Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Why I Decided to Run Away

What exactly happened in my life that made me want to leave with no plan to return? This question has a lot of answers, and maybe it doesn't ask everything you need to know. So here are my reasons. The answer to 'why Korea?' is simple: I have the beginnings of a social network there and viable opportunities; also, I am interested in Korean culture and love Korean food, music, history, etc. and I've discovered that Korean people are on average some of the most honest and caring people in the world.

1. There is almost nothing here for me. I'm young so nobody depends on me and I have no career to tie me down yet. Although I have a lot of amazing friends, I barely see them because I'm working all the time. And when I'm not working, I'm in class and/or sleeping. And even with all the work I do, the bills pile up and I find myself coming up short again and again. Right now the tires on my car have dangerously little tread on them but I don't even have enough room on my credit card, which is being used to pay for rent, electricity, my phone, gas, food, and parking, to buy them. I'm not claiming that I'm completely responsible with money; I get parking tickets and I go out for coffee or dinner every once in a while. But those small expenditures are less than most of my peers'. There's some disconnect; some lost time in traveling and transitions between students. Oh yeah, I'm a freelance private English as a second language tutor and also a personal assistant for a man with rare dwarfism. I had seven students for the greater part of the past semester and worked about 20 billable hours per week, which doesn't include half hour travel time between appointments, which tend to be 1-2 hours long. I do this because I haven't been able to find a real job here. At first, I taught piano for two years, but piano students are unreliable and the money isn't worth my time anymore. I love my job but it's really driving me into the ground and I have very little to show for it.

2. My grandmother, one of the most important people in my life, passed away in late May. I have been having a lot of trouble dealing with that. She always wanted nothing more than for everyone she loved to be happy, and I feel like I'm failing her because I can only make those around me happy instead of myself. Also, she loved adventure and travel and spontaneity. So, I feel like she would love this decision and live vicariously through me if she were here. If she's been watching me for the past few months, then I'm sure her tears have been in the rain often because I can see myself going crazy from stress. That would cause her pain.

3. I can't concentrate. I've always been a forgetful person, but recently it went from being quirky to impeding my ability to function in everyday life. I laugh and make jokes about it, but it's a serious issue, and when I say I can't remember anything unless I write it down, it's not an exaggeration anymore. For the first time, I'm failing classes. It's not because I don't understand the material; it's because I can't force myself to do the homework and I can't hear my alarms to make it to class on time, even though my first class this semester was at 12:40pm. Little things add up and even though I absorb languages like a sponge, my Japanese and Korean class grades are suffering. And even though I'm an eloquent writer when called upon, I just haven't written my papers for my classes. I hate myself for it and I sit down prepared to work and nothing happens. Time just disappears and then I'm more exhausted, more ashamed, and more stressed.

4. My relationships with the people around me have become dry. I find myself caring less about everyone around me than I used to. People whose company I once thoroughly enjoyed now mildly annoy me. When someone is talking to me it goes in one ear and out the other more often than not; whereas I used to be an attentive and genuinely caring listener. I am becoming listless and cold, which is not a person I want to be or enjoy being. I'm losing hope in life, so I'm losing interest as well.

5. For years, the glass has not been half empty nor half full. It is completely full: half full of whatever you put in there and half full of whatever was in there before (i.e. air). This extreme optimism comes in part from the good experiences I have, but mostly from my hope that the future will be better and the determination to make it so. At the end of every bad day, I go to sleep thinking "it's okay because tomorrow will be amazing." At the end of every bad semester, I think, "it's okay because it's over now and next semester I'll work harder, my teachers will be great, and I'll have a lot of great experiences with great people." But I was thinking about next semester, next year, until I graduate; and, for the first time, I thought, "who am I kidding? It's going to get a lot worse before it gets better." I was planning to move to Japan or Korea after graduation in 2010, and that was the earliest point I could imagine getting better. If I have to live like this for another semester, much less three or four, you'll see me in a mental hospital for sure. I'll crack like an egg. Ironically, 달걀 (dahl gyal), which means 'egg' in Korean, is my nickname from my roommate. It means I'm white on the outside (Caucasian) and yellow on the inside (Asian). But this 달걀 would like to stay out of the frying pan, thank you very much.

6. I've moved quite a bit in my life. Therefore, I have a mild case of wanderlust. What better way to quench such a thirst for change of scenery than by hopping on a plane to the other side of the world?

7. HOPE. I know I mentioned this somewhere up there, but it is the most important reason. I'm not happy with my life right now, and I have no hope that it will get better. So, instead of being miserable, I am making a new start for myself. I'll get a real job and a degree, and I'll do it all without my past mistakes, hardships, and pain hanging over my head as constant reminders of the cruelty of life. I am cleaning the slate of my existence and starting with bright, innocent eyes. But don't worry; I'm not stupid. The last 20 years have not been easy and I know the next 20 aren't going to get simpler. All I want is to work hard and go home without being afraid to check my bank account balance or finding a bill in the mailbox. I want to wake up with a smile instead of wanting to cry just because I have to get out of bed. I want to be satisfied. I want to be happy. I want to feel accomplished instead of useless. I want to be me, just living a life that suits me better than this one. I have hope that I'll find that in Korea.


  1. I'm glad to see you so optimistic. Don't lose that.

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