2018: A Year in Review


Over the course of 2018, I traveled a lot, DJed a lot, socialized a lot, skated a lot, made a lot of new friends, kept up with a lot of old friends, pushed myself outside of my comfort zone a lot (almost constantly), and basically just lived life a lot.

This was the first photo of 2018 that I took, it was on my walk home on New Year’s morning after a pretty wild night out.

This was the first photo of 2018 that I took, it was on my walk home on New Year’s morning after a pretty wild night out.

I’ve written an annual life recap post every year for the past few years, but this year felt different. Initially, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue the tradition. It didn’t feel like there was enough updates, accomplishments and stories to share, but I convinced myself I should do it anyway because I think it’s a good practice in self-reflection. Also, why not let the internet see your vulnerabilities and inner-workings every once and a while? After a bit of introspection, I realized this actually might have been one of the most exciting years of my life. It’s possible I was just too caught up in all of the excitement to acknowledge everything that has happened to me this year, which would explain why I didn’t think I had anything to write about to begin with.

Around this time last year I was just getting acclimated to Hong Kong, considering I arrived here mid-November, 2017. I had one friend outside of work and I had yet to play any DJ gigs anywhere here. I didn’t know my way around very well at all and overall I was still just basically a longterm tourist at that point. However, I was super determined to create some opportunities for myself. I mean, I moved all the way across the world for an adventure, so I might as well make the most of it, right?

During the first half of the year, I took a few trips to places I wanted to see in Asia, namely Jakarta, Taipei and Tokyo. I went back to the states in April to visit the homies in Chicago and to meet up with my family that was on vacation in Florida. In an act of slight desperation, I ended up DJing regularly at a pretty terrible dive bar because I was getting the itch to play out in public and nothing else was really coming through at the time. Actually, throughout the first half of the year, I played quite a few awful gigs. Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do in hopes it will lead to some better opportunities.

The beginning part of the year was super fun in terms of experiences and travel, but very lackluster in the context of accomplishing certain goals I had set for myself. However, that all changed during the latter half of the year. July 14th is the exact date when the year started to change up. On that day, a lot of my hard work started to pay off and all the dots started to seemingly connect. I had been in touch with some rappers and club promoters about helping them throw hip hop events and that date was when I was finally able to get involved with one of their events.

They agreed to let me play the opening DJ set at a hip hop show they planned for July 14th. I shut shit down during my set that night and the rest was history. I ended up becoming the resident DJ for all of their hip hop events. Throughout the second half of the year I DJed several events with this crew as well as some nights on my own. I traveled to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with a group of rappers to perform at an event there and later to Bali, Indonesia to DJ for a huge halloween festival. I do intend to remain humble, but realistically, I feel like after the past few months I have really solidified my place as one of the more consistent and relevant hip hop DJs in the whole city. Or at least that’s the goal right now. Aside from that, I also started doing monthly mixes for an independent online radio station based in Hong Kong. These mixes have challenged me to find new music consistently and it has been a really great thing that I realized I really enjoy doing.

Music has really become a major aspect of my life, and as busy as I may seem with DJing and skating, I still have a day job that I take rather serious. On that front, I have learned so much about cross-cultural communication and how to deal with people that have very different perspectives of work and etiquette and just culture in general throughout the past year. I’ve gotten in countless arguments, some of them admittedly very petty, over what comes down to cultural differences. I have been here for over a year, but sometimes when you are wired a certain way your brain is a bit too stubborn to just move past certain things. At the same time it is something I am very self-aware of, and I think acknowledging that and being conscious of it is maybe the first step. Anyway, dealing with different types of people without getting caught up on pettiness, taking things too personal or getting too emotional has been a major goal of mine recently. Coincidentally, while typing this I got a text from a Hong Konger I know that I thought was incredibly rude, so let’s see if I can cool out and handle the situation better.

I really struggle at times with some aspects of Hong Kong, but I knew moving here this wasn’t going to be just a walk in the park. With that being said, it definitely frustrates me when people disregard the challenges I’ve faced, and even more so when people tell me I’m “lucky”. I understand people don’t see behind the scenes so they don’t fully understand. They don’t see the long nights and early mornings, they don’t see me on the verge of a mental breakdown like seriously every other fucking day. They see me through the eyes of what I make public on the internet, they see me partying, skating and traveling and don’t realize the amount I work I put in to live the life I want to live. A lot of friends back home reach out to me and tell me they are happy for me because I’m out in the world living my best life and I appreciate the acknowledgement, but please don’t look at my life in Hong Kong and tell me I’m lucky. None of this shit happened because of luck, trust me. If you wanna talk about privilege and how I have benefitted from being a straight male born into a middle class white family in the middle of the US, we can have that discussion too, but I think it would be dismissive to say I am where I am out of sheer luck.

Even with all of the difficulties I experience here, I think moving to Hong Kong was one of the best decisions of my life, undoubtedly one of the most life-changing ones. I have faced so many unique challenges and learned so much about the world and about myself. Additionally, I’ve given myself so many more new opportunities and experiences I never would have had if I didn’t move here. I guess I’m getting older, we all are, and I see a lot of people my age “settling down” and starting families and going that route. And believe me, I’m super happy for my friends that see that as the best decision for themselves. People love to tell me that I will soon be on that same path, but I doubt it. I am so content with where my life is and the alternative choices I’ve made that I don’t see myself just suddenly deciding to revert back to a more traditional lifestyle anytime soon.

I have made a lot of big moves this past year and plan on making even more. New Year’s resolutions really aren’t my thing, so I won’t make any, but I do plan to continue doing everything I’ve been doing and to work towards some short-term and long-term goals I have. I always say that If someone told me a few months before I left to Hong Kong that all of this was going to happen the way it did I would have thought they were crazy. Basically, what I’m saying is I had no idea the past year or so would play out the way it did, so I’m more than open to any other adventure life decides to throw at me at this point. I guess all I can do is keep grinding and wait and see what happens next.

Josh DubmanComment