Connections and Connecting in Shanghai

“The quality of our lives depend on the quality of our relationships.” -Esther Perel

Lately I have been focusing on the different relationships in my lives including with myself, friends, family, colleagues, students and the new people I meet everyday in Shanghai. Esther Perel is a psychotherapist who is most known for writing about intimate relationships in her best selling novels, TED talk and podcast that I have started listening to. She is so in-tune with relationship dynamics and I continue to listen to her podcast which is groundbreaking in its approach and look into different relationships and the complex elements that life brings.

To say that I had a hectic past few years (lets be real my whole life) would be an understatement. I think that all of us have periods and chapters in life where we feel caught up in a wave of activities and “the next thing.” One would think that my life would be more chaotic moving to another country and starting a new job. However, it’s quite the opposite. I feel like I have time, am able to be more present in my daily activities and am enjoying more moments than I have in the past. This is not to say the past four years of college and my whole childhood weren’t fulfilling and meaningful because they were! I just feel as though I am growing into myself more and more everyday.

I have some incredible relationships here in Shanghai from people who first helped me when I arrived, a friend from Germany I have known for six years, new friends from work and yoga, other foreigners, my fellow teachers…etc. Most people have doubts that I am an introvert given my friendly nature. I can say for certain that I truly am one and consciously choose to invest in quality relationships rather than quantity because people honestly EXHAUST ME! There is nothing I love more than going for walks early in the morning or evening by myself listening to podcasts to recharge from the buzz of daily life in Shanghai.

There was a time in my life where I struggled to let people into my life and was somewhat of a turtle who had a protective shell. The fact is that life is going to break our hearts at some points and what gets us through those moments and amplifies the beautiful times is the people we surround ourselves with. That’s why I love this quote of Esther Perel so much. And the risk with investing in people is that they will disappoint and hurt us. Well you know what, the stock market is disappointing too. Investments are only meaningful because there is a risk. Unlike monetary investments, when you invest in people you don’t go in looking for a return from them; relationships aren’t about an outcome but rather the ebb and flow of give and take…but mostly give. We are all going to be hurt in life; by life itself and sometimes by the people who we trust and love the most. It is once we are hurt where we get to decide to shut down and close people off, or to lean into vulnerability, kindness and compassion and continue to give.

The return happens in the joy you get from other people and are able to give to them. The return is when you are going through the most painful experience of your life and your friend flies across the country to just be with you. The return is when something amazing happens to you and YOUR people are they to celebrate with you. The return is when you fall and your friends are there to pick you up. The return is when you get to the feel the joy from your friend accomplishing something because you know how hard they had to work to get there.

So I am going to keep investing in myself and the people I care about and hope that you continue to do so as well.

And to all my friends and family back home. I miss you all a lot and am excited for as many of you to come visit so I can feed you and show you this beautiful part of the world!

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

-Kaila

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