Anyone who knows me on a personal level knows that I have an absurd love for Beijing. I love the bustle of this city. The smells, though not always pleasant I find unique. I am easily perplexed by locals and stare at people on the subway as much as they stare at me; and when my temperament is good, I can laugh off almost any haphazard encounter.
Yet, as exciting as this experience is for most of us, things can build up. Couple this stimulating city with frustrations at work, dealing with new people and their personalities, trying to maintain your financial goals plus numerous other factors; living in Beijing can certainly feel painful to bear.
So how do you deal with these moments?
Admittedly, looking back at my first year in Beijing, I drank and went out a lot as a means of connecting and dealing with stress and I certainly wasn’t the only one using this coping mechanism. The problem with talking about a problem over drinks with friends in Beijing is how easily it can spiral into a negative night of complaining and it wasn’t tackling any of my problems head-on.
Later in the year when I reached out to two of my former mentors at home about some of my issues I realized that mentorship was the way forward for me. Through email, I was able to communicate the challenges I was personally facing without setting off a complaint session. In turn, I received level headed advice from an older person who advised from a host of experiences and with forward thinking in mind.
As it turns out though, I’m not the only one using mentorships as a means of dealing with Beijing.
Noticing a need for mentorship in Beijing, Andre Berry, an older American expat recently decided to use social media to create a space for a select group of like minded men to connect, chat, and share their struggles. A communicator at heart, Andre has been able to facilitate meaningful discourse on issues such as race, career, and relationships in Beijing.
Dre’s initiative actually came out of his personal observation that much of Beijing’s social scene revolves around its infamous drinking culture. Whether coupled or single, he noticed many men in particular, due to social stigmas around talking about their problems get sucked into a cycle of socializing exclusively with the aid of liquid courage. Seeing that this way of socializing was taking a negative toll on his friends, Andre decided to foster more meaningful relationships in an alternative way. While the Wechat group is online, the men also meet offline to blow off steam through sports, watching a game or dinner.
Recognizing the privilege he holds as someone with a stable job in Beijing and as a married man and a father, Andre goes out of his way to offer his support to expats who often face precarious working conditions in Beijing; and to mentor men in developing communication skills necessary for building healthy romantic relationships.
In fostering a non-judgmental and inclusive environment for men, Dre has created a space conducive to personal growth which his group members apply to a variety of areas in their lives.
How do you deal with stress in Beijing? Is mentorship important to you?
To join Andre’s mentorship group email: email@example.com
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