Fighting Fear

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Pre-Departure Butterflies

As I buried my head between my legs, with the knife-edges of my elbows driving into my knees, anxiousness pulsated throughout my body. The sound of my heartbeat was deafening, and I slipped into a trance of negative thoughts. “What if Hong Kong does not live up to my romanticized expectations? What if I make no friends? What if I hate my abroad experience?”

It was a quarter past nine when I received a notification that my friends were ready to deliver me to the airport. I entered the car and attempted to find a comfortable position in the backseat. Instead, the cushions consumed me, and the seatbelt locked me into place. I lacked the motivation to change my predicament, as I expended much of my mental capacity fixating on my concerns. Once we arrived at Logan Airport, I said my bittersweet goodbyes and dragged my legs toward the appropriate terminal. Over the course of the next seventeen hours, my anxiety wilted away like leaves in the middle of autumn.

I have lived with anxiety for the majority of my life. It dwells beneath the surface but becomes apparent during moments of stress. The idea of living in Hong Kong for four months frightened me. Because of this fear, I was plagued with irrational thoughts of withdrawing my acceptance from HKU. However, I desperately yearned to continue my personal journey of self-growth and maturation. This desire was more ardent than my lingering doubts. Hence, I knew I could not turn back once I boarded my flight.


Reflection on My New Setting

My first two weeks have been a delightful blur. I wake up every morning in disbelief that I live in another country. The freedom and independence have been intoxicating, but time management remains a complex task. One of my goals is to live like a local. I want to find restaurants not listed on Trip Advisor. I want to explore back alleys and neighborhoods that do not resemble Times Square. Thus far, I have visited tourist traps, like the Lady’s Market and Causeway Bay. These experiences thrill me, but I wish to gain a deeper understanding of the local community.

In two weeks’ time, I have realized the fallacies of my pre-departure anxiety. My negative thoughts and worries were not rooted in anything tangible. Rather, the vague fear of change triggered a state of irrationality. Now that I am settled, Hong Kong no longer terrifies me. On the contrary, it has been more than I expected and it continues to surprise me on a daily basis. In such a brief period of time, I have become infatuated with the city. Each day is bound to offer me a new experience. It is unfathomable to believe I wanted to sabotage my opportunity at a life-changing moment for the sake of “comfort.” I am ecstatic I did not rescind my acceptance, as it would have been a regretful decision. I have found that my only regrets stem from inaction and complacency.