Shanghai Syndrome: Unhappy people

There is a ‘Shanghai Syndrome’, of which some people are aware. This series of writing about Shanghai Syndrome – if it is to become a series – has not been especially pre-planned nor intensely considered, in neither a neural nor literary pattern.

Rather, as per usual in ‘Shanghai’s best website’ (self-titled), I’m going to more or less make it up as I go along.

The potential troubles, depressions, exasperations, insecurities and such are the typical human condition and wherever you are in the World, you may still be susceptible to these.

Yet being in Shanghai can magnify personality flaws.

Being ‘away from home’ always has potential to highlight certain aspects of a person’s character, of which they themselves may have been unaware.

Without the same surroundings, the family groundings, the powerful routine and a specific personal identification constructed by one’s formative years, each person has a possibly unlimited space in which to allow their mentality to augment unchecked, and even corrupt.

That’s one aspect.

The other?

It is also the case that regular failings and standard problems or weaknesses can be more easily lamented when you are living away from your own country.

If you were still in your hometown, then when strife strikes, it may be forgotten or un-attended to, as you continue in your sturdy and safe routine. It could be light-heartedly discussed with your childhood friends (you know … your real friends).

However, this is the other point:

If you have moved to Shanghai, you have already made the decision to break that routine. To escape the possible strife and mundanity of hometown life. You have sub-conscious or conscious expectations now. You expect yourself to be pioneering, exploring, experiencing, learning, and expressing yourself in new ways related to your ‘career’, your sex life, your travel experiences, questioning life and the World and just making it.

However – that’s not really going to always be the case, is it?

If you are the ‘easily pleased expat’, then there is always going to be room for that. Simply drinking in bars, going to Thailand, meeting people from an exotic Eastern-European country, taking a taxi … these easily-achievable tasks can convince some – incessantly – that they are really living the dream and ticking their own boxes of their ‘Life Checklist’.

But for normal, good people, this is not always going to be the case.

Which is the point: when life in a very foreign country becomes mundane, with strife, dis-satisfying … and still leaves your mentality and emotionality with the feeling of a hole that is not being filled —– then what next?

You have already taken the leap of trying somewhere new, but the attractive love of your life is not on your arm, you are not the truly-liked and truly-creative career person, and you have not fully established a totally satisfying 24 hour cycle that fills all of those desires.

(of course, some people do, and good for them. There will be that mix of (1) people who have been fortunate enough to be in a position to independently control their lives and make the right decisions which will lead to satisfaction – no matter that the reality is that this fortunate position almost always comes from getting a leg-up from either wealthy parents or a wealthy benefactor, and (2) the people mentioned above – those who will always be able to egotistically convince themselves that yeah, they are the man (or woman) and are just living a ‘wild’ and ‘crazy’ rockstar life with their wine-tasting and their office-meetings.)

That is one basic premise of Shanghai Syndrome. So what’s the effect?

One example is people who would like a relationship, but have not ‘found’ one.

These such people are many — and they are not always the people you expect. It is not only women who feel this way.

Men who are un-interested in bar girls and insane girls, men who would like to be able to meet a woman that they can click with … someone who gets them.

These men exist by the many, yet may have no avenue of either expressing this desire, nor have a means by which they may find a good woman.

(this is not a personal lament, not a mere moan – but rather an impartial explanation of observed issues which normal people are experiencing)

Again, this can and does happen anywhere in the World. But again, the expectation of ‘Shanghai’ is … ‘more’.

Not only that, but as you know, the ease / frequency / availability of ‘relationships’ of any kind here is … well, let’s just say that it can seem as though everyone is getting it on with everyone else with no problem at all.

So when you want more than just a terrifyingly awkward one-night-stand with a potential freak … you may become just one of a large group of people who are unexpectedly dis-satisfied, with no means of honestly expressing this and then being able to find a solution.

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Categories: Expat Life


Foreigner in Shanghai


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  1. Expat Dad: Reality Check | Developing City - June 10, 2013

    […] to begin to culminate into a point here, what I am writing now is relevant to Shanghai Syndrome, which I mentioned last […]

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