Repatriate has allowed me to post this letter from him sent to me before, as an introduction to him and his background. It was very eloquent, touching, and insightful, so I added it to the Great Letters section of the site as well (http://www.happierabroad.com/Great_Letters.htm).
Subject: Winston, you are 100% correct
Hey there Winston,
You probably don't remember me at all but I had a really long series of e-mail conversations with you a few years back. I don't think I used the same e-mail address though or I used an anonymous nickname at the time. I don't remember the exact year but it was probably around 2002 or 2003 when your website was a chronicle about all the problems you were encountering in Russia . I believe my initial responses to you were kind of critical in regards to your adventures in Russia and your motivations. Well, like you I am an Asian-American and I made the decision to live abroad in 2005. I haven't regretted it one bit and it has been a life changing (and saving) experience. Itâ€™s interesting and sort of funny to me that it seems you decided to live abroad roughly around the same time as I did. I always considered this option and deep down inside itâ€™s what I was planning for in my life. I was far from being a â€œloserâ€� in the U.S. , I was hired by a police dept and was going to work in law enforcement as a career. I fit the â€œtype Aâ€� personality attributes pretty well because Iâ€™m fit, decent looking if not handsome, confident, outspoken, and I have managed my personal life well. However, I spent a couple weeks in the academy and realized that I could never become a cop. It wasnâ€™t because I lacked the ability or the interest in police work itâ€™s just that the motivation wasnâ€™t there to â€œprotect and serveâ€� communities in the U.S. I had absolutely no interest in building a life in America and the people I was surrounded with just put all that into perspective.
After I quit the academy I felt fairly depressed because it was the first time I quit something major in my life. I felt like a failure for a couple years because I didnâ€™t buckle down and go through with it despite my reservations. I even tried a couple more times to enter into law enforcement. This was done more to convince myself to fit into American society professionally rather than doing what I really wanted to do in my heart. It was only after I decided to put everything on hold for awhile and do some soul searching that I figured out what was really bothering me. It wasnâ€™t me at all it WAS the society I was living in. I am just not materialistic or infatuated with conforming to the American ideal of what an American male should be or what constitutes the fabled â€œAmerican ethic.â€� The whole idea repulses me and I feel a deep seeded disgust and aversion towards what many Americans stand for. Itâ€™s too bad I didnâ€™t figure this out for myself until much later.. all told I wasted a good 4-5 years from 2001 until 2005 with indecisions about my life. Those should have been the prime years of my life spent partying, socializing, laying down a career path, and just enjoying my youth but I am still young (29) and have been happily living abroad the past couple years.
Let's face it America is good for some things like making money, developing stable businesses, and enjoying the natural landscape however the standard of living is highly overrated and downright poor in many respects. People in America are stressed, sexless, annoyed, and angry most of the time. You can see it in mainstream American culture, the macho bullshit posturing, the elitism, and the feminist nonsense. I know some people will deny this and call us "pathetic" for our choices but I know too many American expats from all walks of life who are happily living abroad to discount this as mere coincidence. The english speaking western world has really pigeonholed itself as a moralistic, productive, and order based society but I feel the more you order and categorize people's lives the less happy they are. Iâ€™m not even going to get into all the racial discrimination, social politics, and other nonsense that pervades every aspect of American life either. Letâ€™s just say that Iâ€™m sure you know about as much as I do how bad it can be as an asian minority in the U.S. Actually, itâ€™s not even a race thing these days. I find a lot of my friends from ALL racial backgrounds to express how sick and tired they are of the bullshit they face in daily American life. However, the vast majority of these guys will never leave. They just donâ€™t have the options on the table because they set down responsibilities and roots that will not allow them that mobility. I feel for them, if only they knew..
Once you go abroad itâ€™s difficult to go back. My first extended experience living overseas opened my eyes in a variety of ways. People will always be people but I believe that culture is the single biggest influence on people. There is definitely something wrong with America in this respect. America may be a lot of good things..productive, prosperous, and relatively free but the socialization of its citizens is much less advanced than other (much more economically poorer) countries Iâ€™ve been in. The way I look at it quality of life isnâ€™t just all about money. Itâ€™s about what you can do with yourself in that society and how comfortable you feel around others. In America I was never truly â€œcomfortableâ€� but always felt tense or slightly agitated at the people around me. Thereâ€™s definitely a hostility and tenseness to social interaction there that I donâ€™t feel anywhere else. Thatâ€™s a lot of negativity to deal with daily so itâ€™s not surprising that out of all industrialized first world countries Americans generally have the least healthy lifestyles and shortest overall life spans.
Anyways, this e-mail ended up being a lot longer and more personal than I anticipated. Feel free to quote from this if you would like to. There are a lot of other observations Iâ€™d like to make including various countries Iâ€™ve traveled to in the past couple years but Iâ€™ll save that for another e-mail.
Also, Winston keep up the good work. I really feel you are one of the more intelligent and insightful individuals out there on the internet. Iâ€™m sure there are lots of American men of all backgrounds who agree with your articles. Ignore the naysayers and bitter Americans out there who want to bring you down to their level. Be yourself and be happy with life. Life is short and sometimes thatâ€™s all we can do is just be.