My Story – A Beijing-Based Queer Woman’s Meditation

Written by Olive Evans

Someone asked me what my story was. Half-thinking I responded, “Oh, it was nothing really. I just had an annoying day at work.” I didn’t realize that he wasn’t asking about my weird mood at the time, rather, he wanted to know about what I was made of. That stuff we can’t define that makes all of us ourselves, what made me, “me”. For someone who is usually fast on her feet with responses, I will say that I was stumped, and had to take a moment to think. Were it not for the fact that I work with kids and a big part of my day is spent repeating seemingly meaningless phrases over and over again, it would have been very weird if someone had found me asking myself, “What is your story, Olive?”

My pondering inevitably led to a downward spiral. Why couldn’t I think of my story, or even connect to it?

In the Beginning….

“This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Was my life so underwhelming that I didn’t even have a story to tell? What if I was just some weirdo that was basically living her life like the often pathetic sidekick in someone else’s movie? My career is not as rewarding as I wish it was. I taught for 4 years and now I manage the academic team at a training center. While this is a job and career path that I respect and love, I find myself thinking, at times, that nothing I do directly changes people’s lives.

And here is another shocker. I have never, in 31 years of living, been in a relationship. I can count the number of real crushes I’ve had on one hand, and the number of dates I have had would neatly fit the other hand. It’s terrifying to think that not having had these experiences might mean that I am broken in some way. Do I not connect with people romantically? And if I don’t, then, why not? What am I doing wrong?

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…And they lived…

“You’re wishin’ too much, baby. You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughtta be.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Friends always say it’s just not my time or the right person hasn’t come along yet. But people have romantic relationships with the wrong person all the time. Yes, I am aware that sounds strange, but what I mean to say is, people, meet, and attempt relationships with different people all the time. Yet, even these feeble attempts haven’t been part of my experience. The closest I’ve come to being in a relationship was with a person that was a friend first. I found them attractive and fun. Someone I could be myself with.

After a drunken night out clubbing, we finally took it to the next level. Due to a series of events, including my inability to be comfortable in expressing my feelings, along with my premature assumption that it was time for me to move back home, what was a chance at a relationship ultimately blew up in my face. The aftermath was deeply emotional for me and made me really consider whether or not I really was the one that was emotionally and romantically broken. It had also been my first time being with a woman, which led to another series of questions I asked myself.

Just the Beginning

“To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

I’ve been attracted to women before and never really questioned it. Hotness translates universally, right? We all see attractive people and know they are attractive, no matter their assumed or presumed gender. This is what I always told myself, anyway. Now that I’ve been with a woman, does that mean I need to start identifying as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, or since it’s only been one woman, am I somehow claiming a space to which I have no right?

Honestly, though, I know I ask myself too many questions. Maybe that’s the reason why I can’t figure out what my story really is. I sit around questioning everything I feel and do as opposed to just living in the moment, even though we know the concept of ‘live in the moment’. it is far more difficult to put into practice. Maybe it’s the real reason why my love life is less than stellar and I’m not super proud of myself at work.

Maybe I just need to start accepting my life for what it is: not glamorous, but still really good. I have amazing friends that are all over China and the world. I’m fortunate to have a family that I actually like, and not just love because I am obliged . There are also days when I really like myself. I wish I could convince myself to have more days like that but that’s not how the cookie crumbles. So, yes, I’m still figuring out my story. Well, maybe I’m just still living my story. That’s okay, too.

Photos: Unsplash

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