The closest comparison I have for choosing to come live and work in Hong Kong for the next 2 months is cliff jumping (which is one of the many things on my bucket list for my time here).

As you begin your hike up the mountain, you are extremely excited. The thought of cliff jumping is exhilarating and you seriously can’t wait to plunge down into the water. The hike is strenuous and takes more time than you’d like, but it all seems worth it at the moment.

But once you have reached the top, it is suddenly not what you expected. The cliff is much higher than you originally thought and the water is actually really far down. You begin to question why you thought this was a good idea in the first place and why you ever felt so excited to do this. You begin to think that it might be better to just turn around and go back home.

An internal battle begins in your mind with one side telling you to jump anyway and the other begging you to turn around and go back home, where everything is comfortable, familiar, and safe. But it seems like such a waste not to jump after you’ve come all this way. You begin to think of the what if’s and the nature of the story afterwards: that you came all this way and couldn’t jump because you were too scared. You know that others have come before you and jumped off this same exact cliff

Even though everything inside of you is telling you not to, you jump anyway. You jump because you can’t live with the possible regret of not jumping; because the most rewarding experiences aren’t meant to be easy; because jumping could change your life, but you’ll never know unless you do it.

. . .

I have officially made the difficult and somewhat scary jump into Hong Kong. It’s a choice to enter into the unknown, which is exciting and thrilling, but also nerve-racking and uncomfortable. The other two times this feeling of entering into the unknown has been most overwhelming was my first day of orientation in college and getting on my flight to study abroad for 4 months in Scotland.

My prior two jumps were filled with lots of tears (from me and my mother) and anxiety about the significant changes I would be forced to live with once I was away from home. Now that I am a little bit older and only leaving for 2 months, I thought leaving would be easier. But Hong Kong is easily the most foreign place I have been and the furthest I have ever been from home, so “easy” is not how I would classify my transition here at all.

As unpleasant as these feelings are, these feelings tell me that I’m in the right place. It’s exactly what stepping outside of your comfort zone should feel like, even if no one tells you that. Going to college and studying abroad have both provided opportunities for growth and development in ways I had not imagined, but I was equally as terrified, if not more, to begin both of those journeys.

So if you are ever having the feelings I just described, take heart in the fact that you are more than likely right where you are supposed to be. Jumping into the unknown may be terrifying but it has always been worth it.


5 thoughts on “a leap of faith

  1. So exciting! i love the pictures. This experience is going to change your life and shape your path. That’s why you are doing it! “Hi” to Annie for me!


  2. Keep jumping. Hi to Vivian and all the HK-America Center comrades. So very sorry I’m not in HK now to welcome you and suggest some new and different neighborhoods, new and different foods, some new and different long-term HK friends. Give my best to all IWU students in HK. Hope to hear more about your experience this fall back at IWU. All best

    Mark Sheldon IWU’70
    Long time resident of HK, at CUHK.


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