On Hoffman Estates, Illinois

I miss Asia almost every day. There are triggers all the time – evil ex-coworkers tagging me in food photos around Asia, fluid Cantonese spoken in local Chinese restaurants, media photos of F3 reunited in Bali to attend a wedding. There have been so many things, since coming back to the States, that cause a little pang of nostalgia, of missing those two years I lived back in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

I was worried about moving back home to Hoffman Estates after I quit my job in New York this past July. After all, New York City was probably the most similar setting I could have to the urban metropolises that I’d lived in abroad; I worried that I’d find the suburbs too quiet, too limiting, and quite honestly too boring – especially after my grandparents left to return to China mid-August.

But I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that this Chicago suburb I grew up in has been more than ideal for my transition back to the States after two years abroad. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I’ve found those words to be true more than ever. And while there are multiple reasons why being in Hoffman Estates has been awesome, the greatest reason by far has been the people.

After my grandparents left in mid-August, I started to spend a lot of time catching up with different people, from childhood friends, to high school teachers, to college classmates, even to new friends I’d made in New York and in Asia. After every single meet-up, I have the exact same thought: “I am so incredibly thankful to be friends with people who I admire and respect so much.”

I’ve been repeatedly blown away by how my friendships haven’t changed despite years apart; by how career success or new life chapters haven’t diminished the strong, down-to-earth characters of my favorite people. And there was absolutely no need for me to worry about my newly found confidence declining, because I have been surrounded by the support and encouragement of people who believe in me more than I believe in myself.

It’s said that unemployment and job-seeking can often be depressing and lonely, and that insecurity increases while confidence plummets. But being back home in Hoffman Estates has prevented me from really feeling any of that negativity – and I realize how incredibly fortunate I am. Each hangout with a friend leaves me feeling warm, happy, confident, and thankful. Each visit to downtown Chicago leaves me satisfied with how close I still am to a myriad of opportunities and (more importantly) restaurants. And each night spent at home, cooking with my parents, leaves me feeling like I’ve made the right decision in quitting and taking a break to come home after eight years away from Hoffman Estates, Illinois.

It’s so good to be home.

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