In Between Stations, Among Other Things

[Announcement] Next station- Causeway Bay, doors will open on the left.

The announcement blasts inside the MTR and I immediately look up to study the map counting how many stations are left before I get to the station of my meeting.

Five stations to go.

I have less than thirty minutes left to make it on time.

“Arrrrgh” I say out loud. I drum my fingernails endlessly on my lap and look out  the window, wishing the train could go faster.

When was I never in a hurry? I honestly can’t remember.

“Do you remember that time when you were six years old and.….”

Papa’s voice trails off and he can’t even finish his story due to his bubbling laughter.

To fill you in, the story he wanted to share was my six-year-old-self scolding a classmate back in primary school. There I was, rushing to color the rainbow in the perfect order—ROYGBIV and I peer to the table next to mine and find my classmate ever so calmly selecting which Crayola to use—with no colored rainbow in sight.

My six-year-old self remembers saying, “You’re so slow!”

What my memory failed to remind me was dragging his bag out of the classroom and telling him to go home due to my annoyance.

When I’m reminded of that story, I’m mortified, wanting to crawl under a rock.

However, at the same time, I attempt to set the thought aside, comfort myself, laugh and reason out, “Well, I’ve always been a go-getter. Always wanting to getting things done the quickest way possible.”

As long as I can remember, I have always been wired in the sense that I always had to think on my feet. When a mistake is made, you don’t linger, you learn from it and move on almost instantly.

Does being wired that way have its advantages? Definitely!

What about its disadvantages?

Hmmm, try to imagine a truck of emotions hitting you, especially when it has reached its peak in your attempt to drown it. Not exactly the prettiest thought.  

When did we first take quickness as a sign of mastery or skill?

When did we start to equate that doing things with less effort meant being good at executing them?

Maybe we could trace it back to when we were much younger and we were in a classroom setting. We would be amazed when a student would first hand in his paper during an exam and some of us would feel pressured to follow soon after. We would exclaim, “Oh no, maybe they found it easy! I’ll just do what I can so I can be next.”

Maybe we could trace it to the next moment in our lives when we witnessed some of our closest friends slowly graduate one by one and as each term passed by and you can’t help but wonder, “What about me?” or “When will it be my turn?”

Maybe we could trace it to the following chapter when it has been months since graduation has passed and yet your schoolmate who literally just graduated from university already has a job waiting for her while you’ve been applying everywhere for months, praying for an interview.

Or maybe we could trace it to the moment when most of us have entered the workforce and now realize we are seen as adults—well, by some, if not all.

There is no person to shield us from the real world and there is an ever-growing feeling of fear creeping up, leaving us terrified to screw things up.

Or maybe we could trace it to this very moment when we discover work is not what we thought it would be. Everything we learned from university has been wiped out. We’re left to be clueless, frustrated even that there is a learning curve to experience. This must be what they call, “Baptism of Fire.”

We sigh and ask, “When will I adjust? When will I get better? Am I ever going to make it?”

Honestly, I have experienced all of this. I have asked the same questions. And I have constantly gotten upset with myself for not getting life right the first time around, which led me to find shortcuts, forcing my way, and sometimes (or most of the time) failing miserably.

Not too long ago I came across on a this survey question on Quora, “If you’re always racing to the next moment, what happens to the one you’re in?”

The question made me pause and think.

The question made me say,

“Oh.”

The question was in a way an answer to everything else.

Why are we such in a hurry to rush to the next moment that we forget to focus on the moment that we are in?

What difference does it make that it takes us just a little bit longer than the others?

We will still get there and I know it. We fail to realize that we are on different paths of growth and discovery. We may not see it now but the experiences we go through are in fact prepping us up for what has yet to come.

The millennial side of us needs to realize that there are certain things that take time and that there are certain processes that we have to go through.

A more focused question that Mark Manson asked in an article that could give us a clearer perspective would be, “What pain do you want to sustain?” (to get to where you what to be?)

Think about it once. Think about it twice. Give it a thought about it again.

[Announcement] Next station – Tai Koo.

I snap out of my train of thought and peer at the map of stations again. Glancing at my watch, I see I have ten minutes left.

Stepping out of the train, I smile.

I’m going to make it to my meeting. Why was I so worried in the first place?

About the Contributor

Betina Libre is a Hong Kong based wedding planner, who is learning the art of storytelling by constantly traveling the world, and documenting her adventures. When she’s staying in one place, you’ll most probably catch her reading and sipping on a cup of coffee at a coffee shop, ready to tell you a story or two (or maybe even taking your photograph). Take a peek into her world by checking out her posts on http://www.instagram.com/betinalibre. For more of her work, visit htttp://www.betinalibre.com

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Photo by Mitch Antonio

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One Thought

  1. eej son says:

    So inspiring..
    Thumbs up!
    More stories and articles.. 😉