A while ago, I wrote a thing on corruption in Hawaii, then I wrote another thing on how the high cost of living and low amount of job opportunities make it extremely difficult to live comfortably or save money on these beautiful islands.
The first article got a lot more attention than I anticipated and was flooded with supportive comments from local residents that mostly amounted to “Yep, that’s how things are.” I got invited onto an AM radio show to talk about my views which I was not prepared for at all. Most importantly, I pissed off my employer who let me go because the article got way more popular than I had intended. I enjoyed writing my blog for my friends to laugh at, I never thought it would get this much scrutiny.
Despite being let go, I stand by what I said in both articles. I did my research, I backed my points, and I was fair. But I wrote both of those articles from a place of bitterness and anger. I needed to leave Hawaii to be able to reflect on it with a clear head. I was in the midst of the struggle and upset that the place I had come to love so much couldn’t provide me with the opportunities I wanted. But that’s not Hawaii’s responsibility, it’s up to me to create my own.
Now that I’m gone, I’ve calmed down a bit. I can see the bigger picture and stop acting like a scorned ex-girlfriend. Hawaii, you should improve in a lot of ways, but if you don’t, that’s OK. Your flaws are what make you unique. There are insurmountable obstacles that come with being an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. And your way of doing business is antiquated but it reflects the local culture.
I was mad at Hawaii for not being what I wanted instead of accepting it for what it is.
It Is What It Is
Hawaii literally changed my life. Without moving here, I’m still thinking about being a writer but doing nothing about it and justifying my inactivity by filling all of my time with terrible job after terrible job.
The islands taught me a lot about humility. Everything here shows you the power of nature and how powerless you are in comparison. The first time you go surfing and almost drown or the first time you hike along a ridge you realize how small and insignificant you are. In a good way. The Aloha spirit and local culture taught me to be humble. And the local people taught me to be generally nicer and more welcoming to everybody.
After the first year, I knew I was right where I needed to be. This was going to be my home forever. Honolulu would keep leading me to bigger and better things.
I was being unrealistic, and when I finally hit my ceiling out here I was pissed. I blamed the island for my misfortunes instead of looking inward.
I should have probably realized that embarking on a marketing career in a state that does all of it’s business face to face isn’t the smartest move. If you want to live in Hawaii you have to accept it for what it is. You’re most likely overworked, underpaid, but surrounded by the most beautiful atmosphere and people on Earth.
I wanted Hawaii to be something it’s not. Obviously, it can be better, but it’s never going to be the land of prosperity where you go to further your career. Nor is the culture going to change just because I want it to. I adapted to the local culture but I didn’t ever truly accept it, faults and all.
The real estate crisis could be solved be building 30 skyscrapers across the island. And if you gave Hilton or Marriott a significant portion of real estate, there would be jobs and tax income aplenty. But that would ruin the beauty that makes Hawaii so appealing.
If you asked local people if they would trade some of the island’s beauty or friendly culture for better jobs or more affordable real estate I can almost guarantee they would not. It’s hard living in Hawaii and getting harder, but it’s still worth it.
I was pessimistic that Hawaii would never fix it’s glaring flaws but I was wrong. Change will happen, but like everything on this island, it will happen slowly.
Keep Hawaii, Hawaii
After the Kealohas were actually found guilty, and Katherine was forced to remain in prison until her sentencing, I saw something I didn’t see before. Hope. The situation wasn’t as dire as I had once imagined. I wrote my previous piece from a place of “WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON? WHY DOES NOBODY CARE ABOUT THIS? HAWAII WILL NEVER CHANGE!” There was so little being done to stop these leeches and scumbags. Now there’s a chance to learn from the collective mistakes and change the culture to hold people accountable when they abuse the system.
Hawaii, you do you. Don’t listen to outsiders like me that want to come in and make you into California. Sure you have a lot of fixable problems, I would recommend you kick out ALL of your elected officials, not just the Kealohas, get some competent people to work at HART, and can you please fix the god damn potholes? I’m sure you eventually will.
I used to complain constantly about the speed of things, how disorganized everything was, and the insular culture that values relationships over performance. But that’s how things have always been done in Hawaii. When it becomes untenable Hawaii will start to change. I can see that now, and my pessimism has turned to optimism.
It’s easy to focus on the handful of assholes that try to ruin things for everybody and ignore the 99% of people who are genial, welcoming, happy and exactly what makes Hawaii so great.
Less than a month after I left, I got a writing job with heavy.com. Once I committed to a new direction in life instead of bitching, things started falling into place. I actually enjoy what I’m doing now and I’m not subject to the whims of a company that changed my job responsibilities on a monthly basis.
Communicating my experiences, good, bad or indifferent, to everybody and connecting with human beings on a deeper level is what I love. I’ve accepted that my mental state will never be perfect but, like Hawaii, that’s what makes me unique. As long as I’m honest with myself, and everybody else, I can improve little by little and not succumb to my worst impulses.
I accept Hawaii for what it is, I don’t hate it for what it’s not. I understand that in order for me to grow I can’t keep relying on Hawaii to offer me the perfect opportunity, it’s done more than enough for me. I learned that forging my your own path and becoming who you want to be isn’t that hard once you set your mind to it.
Hawaii was perfect for the old me and it made me a better person. Now I’m searching for a place that fits the new me.
Hawaii, I love you, and I wish you nothing but the best.