jet-setting in stiletto heels


I have been fortunate in that I had many opportunities to travel to various corners of the world, whether for business purposes or leisure. More blessed, is the fact that I was actually paid to relocate between different cites/countries every 2-3 years as part of my international executive contract. A lot of people thought I was “living the dream”. And god knows how long I was hiding behind my own facade of happiness.

Some people like to travel, I do too, but being a tourist for 7 days in a city is a completely different thing to living in that city for a year or more. Only then do I get to experience the real life and culture. Every city I lived in has shaped me in a way or another. Some good, some bad, some exhilarating, some miserable—its hard to compare cities or say which city do I like best, which is a question I get all the time.



Each city has its friendly aspects and each place has its challenges. Every country has its stories, and more importantly, people. Do I remember every detail from the places I’ve lived in? Not really. But what I do bring with me is the kindred spirits I met along the way and who are dear enough to continue keeping in touch with me, especially during 2010 for obvious reasons. Locals I have met in each city have also flamed alive the culture for me to understand first hand. I would not give this experience up for anything else.

It is quite glamourous you might think: professional team of movers packing up my sofas and stuffed toys for me while I sit and watch them relocate my life in a cargo container, driven around by real estate agents to some of the best properties for rent in the city, and other perks that come with it. And for a while, I maintained that image of a happy, contented me, enjoying my “high life”, being young and free.

But for every benefit there is a cost. And many cannot see the hidden cost.

I didn’t either, and basked in my own superfluous indulgence. What I thought was a thrilling challenge was actually eroding my spirit. I thought I had it good. I thought I was contented. I believed it wholeheartedly and so tried to make the most out of the opportunity. I still wouldn’t give up that experience for anything but how many of us find it a breeze to work in our third or fourth language? Spending effort to make friends and meet new people in a new country each time was taxing. Romantic relationships were hard to come by with the fleeting nature of my postings in each city.

Life takes a toll on us sooner or later.

It did to me 18 months ago. Behind the glamour is undue stress. The perks & benefits from being an international executive makes a vain attempt to smoothen out the wrinkles but accumulated stress cannot be ironed out so simply. 30 days annual leave a year while constantly expected to reply to emails via blackberry cannot make up for the lost sleep.

Stiletto heels get caught in drains and break when too much pressure is exerted.

Yet, it was a price I agreed to pay the moment I signed on the contract. It’s give and take. I’m not complaining nor do I regret my decision. It’s just that I need to see both sides of the coin and acknowledge my little dream bubble. Some people can do this for 30 odd years – I must admit to myself, perhaps I cannot.

Today I’m trying to shed off the vanity of titles, high salary and all the perks with it. Health is, as cliche as it is, my first priority. What more can I do if I have not health. Money is besides the point.

Time to burst the bubble. Be real.

25 Responses

  1. Thanks for a beautiful post Noch. You are a brave woman and it was a real pleasure to share your story here. I agree with you entirely. Our health is worth more than a whole fleet of executive jets or the largest, most generous paycheck.

    Our health makes it possible to enjoy our little moments (and our big moments) in a way that otherwise is not possible. Stay strong.

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Chris, thanks SO much for visiting my blog too, makes me feel very honoured 🙂
      I’m glad you like my writing too. I guess we all blog for different reasons, and I’m happy that when I share my story, it resonates with someone out there. Thanks again for stopping by and connecting on cyberspace. And yes, health first 🙂
      Take care

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  4. delilah says:

    i just burst into tears after reading this post.
    it is so, so true.
    particularly painful is when the people you depend on most and love most buy into the facade too, and seem shocked when things like this dont make you happy.

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Delilah
      How touching! I’m touched at your comment!! Yes, it was a hard reality to face. But i’m glad I did, and I can move on 🙂
      Noch Noch

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about Noch Noch

Enoch Li, (pen name: Noch Noch) was born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. She has also studied / worked / lived in the US, France, UK, Japan, The Netherlands, China, and has travelled to more than 40 countries. She loves travelling and her curiosity in foreign cultures and languages has led her to enjoy her life as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. However, she was forced to take time off work in 2010 due to her illnesses and after spending time in recovery, cooking, practising Chinese calligraphy, reading and writing – in short, learning to take care of herself and letting out the residual work stress, she has transitioned into a Social Entrepreneur and founded BEARAPY to help corporates make workplaces mentally healthy, and support executives to become more resilient.