S: Hello. I’m Shrink.
M: I’m Mandy.
S: What brings you here today?
M: I’d just like to talk a few things out. I’ve been a little overwhelmed recently, and while I definitely feel better, it would be nice to get it out in the open.
S: I understand you wrote an ambiguous Facebook post about feeling like a failure. You know ambiguous Facebook statuses are a failure in and of themselves, right?
M: Are you allowed to call me a failure? What kind of shrink are you? Where did you go to school?
S: University of Texas A&M University. Psychology was my minor. I got my Masters in Googling and my Doctorate in Advanced Judgmental Behavior.
M: You’re not supposed to judge. You’re supposed to listen and guide me by asking questions.
S: How does it make you feel that I’m judging you right now?
M: I want to get up and leave. I don’t need your judgment. But leaving you is difficult since we’re the same person.
S: We are, and that sucks for me, since you’re feeling overwhelmed. Tell me why.
M: I have a lot going on right now – a lot of responsibilities. Normally it would be okay, but since my time in Taiwan is limited, everything seems more pressing.
S: Your time is limited?
M: Yes. You know that. In August I’m moving, probably back to the US.
M: Well, yeah. If I get a job in Canada or Europe, I wouldn’t be in the US.
S: That won’t happen. You’re not a stellar enough candidate for them to choose you over a citizen. So, you’re going back to the US. Why?
M: Because it’s time.
M: I want to leave Taiwan and miss it, not feel like I overstayed. I don’t want to feel trapped like I did in College Station.
M: Why do I want to leave now or why would I feel trapped?
M: …how much am I paying you?
S: Nothing. It would be weird if you paid yourself for shrinking yourself. It’s odd enough that you’re shrinking yourself. You’re an overthinking shrinking piece of work.
M: …All I heard was, “Nothing.” Can we move on, please?
S: Fine. So, you’re going back to the US. Why?
M: You know, everyone asks me that. What are you going to do? What’s next? Why are you moving? Where to? I don’t know the answers. I’m just doing it. I’m going with what my heart is telling me to do.
S: Do you listen to your heart often?
M: I try to.
S: Does your heart speak with an English accent?
M: …You know it’s not actually talking to me, right? That’s why I don’t have clear answers. I’m going with how I feel, and what I think I would regret least, as strange as that sounds.
S: Compared to most of this conversation, that’s the least strange of half the stuff you’ve said.
M: You’re judging me again?
S: Of course I am. How does that make you feel?
M: I judge myself enough. I don’t need your input.
S: How do you judge yourself? Not that I need pointers – you’re an easy target.
M: Excuse me?
S: I said we need to target your self-loathing and point out the easy ways you can stop judging yourself so much.
M: There’s no self-loathing. I like myself. I just expect a lot from myself. I don’t like feeling like I’ve let people down. I don’t like feeling like I could’ve done more.
S: You can always do more.
M: But I’m only one person. Like Christy told me the other night: “It’s enough.” What I’m doing is enough.
S: Who is Christy?
M: A friend here in Hsinchu.
S: Is she invisible?
M: No. I actually have friends, you know. Just because I don’t go out drinking a lot doesn’t mean I don’t have friends and don’t do stuff.
S: You sound boring.
M: Sometimes I feel boring, but just because I don’t think I’ve done anything WHOAMAJOR in my life. At least, I don’t feel like I have.
S: Those are a lot of capital letters. That’s not a real word.
M: “Whoa” and “major”. You really couldn’t read that?
S: Of course not. You like making up words. It’s one of your more irritating traits.
M: You’re calling me irritating? Pot, kettle.
S: Don’t get defensive. You moved to Taiwan. That was major.
M: It doesn’t feel like it. I do a lot with my life, but none of it feels epic or super exciting. It just seems… I dunno. Not that interesting.
S: You’re on the other side of the planet from everything you’ve known. You’ve become involved in a completely different culture.
M: I know. But what have I really done, you know? What difference have I made?
S: You think you’re going to make a difference if you move?
M: I dunno. But it feels like the right decision.
S: You keep saying, “I dunno.” What do you dunno?
M: I don’t have a plan. I don’t know what’s next. I have no idea where I’m going to be, what I’m going to be doing, or what my life is going to look like in three months. And that’s terrifying.
M: Of course it is. Didn’t you hear me on the phone with Mom and Dad the other night? I don’t ugly-cry to win Oscars. I do it because this is real life, and it’s hard and confusing.
S: So what you’re saying is that you want to be an actress.
M: What? No. Is this really that complicated?
S: You made it complicated all by yourself. Do you thrive on complicating things?
M: No. Of course not. I mean… I dunno. No. I like things straightforward.
S: Then why are you so hard on yourself?
M: I’m afraid to make mistakes.
M: Because some mistakes are irrevocable.
S: I don’t believe in mistakes.
M: Neither do I… normally.
M: No. I tell other people all the time that as long as they don’t hurt themselves or others, they can’t make mistakes. They just make decisions.
S: Then you can’t make mistakes, either. You can only decide which way your life is going to go. The only mistake is not living your life.
M: Where’d you get that – a fortune cookie?
S: No. Don’t be rude.
M: You know, they don’t have fortune cookies in Taiwan.
S: I’m well aware. That one was on the house.