Saturday, August 29, 2009


Yes, folks. You knew it was coming. Nobody can move to the other side of the planet alone at 21 years old with no solid plan without hitting that solid wall of depression sooner or later.

I think a big part of it is that I live in a room the size of my mother's walk-in closet, maybe even smaller, with a window to the dark hallway. I share a bathroom and a kitchen with tons of strangers who looks at me like I'm some kind of exotic species, and I can't make much noise lest I disturb my neighbors in their 2 meter x 2 meter cells.

Another big part is that my life is going nowhere and I know it, but I don't know what the hell to do about it.

Another is the pressure from everyone.

Pressure from people in Korea: move closer to the place I usually work, move closer to my boyfriend, don't move. Moving is difficult for many reasons, like money, work, etc. but staying is even more difficult. When am I going back to America? Stay. Don't go. Stay. Stay in Korea.

Pressure from school: I must graduate, I must take certain classes, I must change my major (now it's a Bachelor of Science in International Studies and Psychology), I must get textbooks because classes start next Wednesday- when did it become September?

Pressure from home: I must keep in touch. I should move home. Am I failing in Korea yet? What am I really doing? Why not just go back home and everyone will be happy! Don't stay in Korea. Come home. What am I doing? What is the exciting life of Kristin like? Am I still alive? Helloooooo? Honestly, if I were dead, people would be informed. I do have my passport. Anyway I'm pretty sure Bundang is the safest place I've ever lived and life is actually pretty normal now. I have a daily routine and a social life, and when I feel the urge to spill my revelations onto the internet I do so for all to read. I never talked to anyone when I lived in America, and I haven't changed. I try to keep in touch a little more, chatting via this blog, letting everyone know what's up. Don't you know more about my life now than you have for the past 3 years?? I know I've been a distant daughter, friend, sister. It's just my nature. Only the things and people in front of my face feel real, and there are so many of them that it's difficult to reach out beyond them to the things and people not included in my daily life. I'm sorry, okay? It's just who I am, so please stop pressuring me because it's driving me insane.

Pressure from myself: Where is this amazing epitome I'm looking for? Where is the new start? It feels like the same thing with different scenery and characters. Like Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. I love it here so much, but why haven't I changed? I still forget about my responsibilities too much, I procrastinate, I back out of friendships when I get annoyed, I ignore the people who care about me, I sleep way too much and it affects my life in negative ways, I can't handle being alone, I need other people to admire me in order for me to admire myself. What has changed? Where is the new, stronger, Kristin? Why am I still like this? Didn't displacing myself completely light a fire under my ass to shape up and start acting like a responsible adult? I'm paying bills on time and being a nice person, but that's not enough. When is the magic moment when I don't need my mom to remind me to take care of things anymore? How do I make myself take care of myself? Why do I keep looking for someone to take care of me? Grow up already!!!!!!

Pressure from the lack of.... : I still have nowhere that really feels like home. I love my family but I've never felt like I belong in it. There is no geographical place that I'm attached to. I love my boyfriend but I'm terrified that this relationship could fall apart. Where am I even going with my life? Where will I be this time next year? Even if our relationship is still strong then, will I even be living in the same country? What kind of job will I have? I have a dream of starting a particularly unique business but I know absolutely nothing about business and I don't have the money or Korean citizen status or Korean language fluency necessary to start a business here even if I had the money, so where will I find a partner? Do I have enough passion for it? My future is a complete blank so I completely lack motivation to do anything. What goal am I reaching for? I'm headed in a direction, I know, and I'm working toward something, but it would help if I knew what the hell that something is!

I'm overwhelmed and under-supported. I don't mean that you all aren't supporting me enough. It's just that your support, while helpful, uplifting, and greatly appreciated and comforting, is not really tangible unless I'm sitting in front of my computer reading it. What about the other 23 hours a day? And the support of my friends in Korea is the same. When I'm not looking at their faces or reading their text messages or talking to them online it's not tangible. The support from my boyfriend is the strongest here, but he is only one man and he lives quite far away, so when I've needed him every day this week it's been physically impossible for him to be here for me. I've always been a very physical person, and things and people, as I said before, if they are not in front of me they are easily forgotten. Not in a malevolent way; it's just that I'm not good at remembering five bajillion things at the same time, and because my life is not very focused, there are always enough things going on immediately around me to push thoughts of the more distant things away. And, I'm only good at focusing on one thing at a time. So if I'm working, I'm only working. I am 100% there. And when it's over, it's over until the next time I work. When I'm with a friend, I am 100% with that friend. When I'm with my boyfriend, I'm 200% with him. When I'm not singularly occupied, thoughts explode in my head and I can't sort them all out. If there's too much to do, I do nothing because I'm overwhelmed and I can't make choices like where to start. If there's one thing to do, I will be more focused than most people ever can be. Basically, what I mean by under-supported is that I need so much more support from others than I should need, because I can't be my own supporter. I don't know how. And until I figure that out, I will always have this depression no matter where I run and no matter who I rely on and no matter what I do. To be my own supporter, I have to have more than the pride I hold in my talents. I have to have an outlet for those talents that I can be passionate about, and I have to see myself accomplishing something and constantly improving.

I am improving a lot. My Korean language skills, my patience (which I already had a lot of), my flexibility, my interpersonal skills, my radar for detecting people's intentions (i.e. if a guy wants to be my friend because he likes me, or if it's because he wants inappropriate things), my ability to laugh at myself, my knowledge about the way I think and assess the world, the fourth piano song I've been composing, etc.. I'm even gradually losing weight and gaining self-confidence, although like almost every person on earth, I am still very self-conscious.

But all of these things are a hodgepodge, a mess of random talents, personality traits, and insights. There's no focus, nothing to apply them to. Like the classes I'm taking just for the credits toward graduation. I feel like I'm killing time, that I don't even need school except for the stupid piece of paper that tells the rest of that world that I'm smart. I'm smart without the paper. Any of you who know me personally can attest to the fact that I am a clever, insightful person with academic knowledge equal to that of a person holding a bachelor's degree. I'm a language and music composition genius, and although I often downplay my intelligence in other areas, I'm also great at science, writing (note: I don't edit or plan these blog posts so they're not the best sample of my writing ability), and a very philosophical and intuitive thinker. I'm not very good with numbers or remembering names, but anything that can be thought of as a puzzle, progression, or pattern is simple to me. Well, not Rubiks cubes. But I'm sure if I applied myself to figuring one out without getting bored before finishing like I usually do, I could. I'm also eerily good at figuring out what people are thinking without them having to say it, which helps me a lot as an English as a second language teacher. It's also the reason, coupled with my patience and lack of judgmental answers, that many of my friends come to me with their problems. No, I'm not perfect, but I'm good enough to have that stupid diploma so I can get my life started already. After five years, I am tired of working and going to school at the same time. I want to do one or the other. My grades are suffering because I just don't care anymore. Last year, one of the biggest reasons I almost failed was that I cared more about tutoring English to foreigners than I cared about my classes, interesting as they were.

Last year, I was also devastated over my grandmother's death, and working way too hard and still not making enough to pay the bills which resulted in more stress. I won't even go into the other reasons I've discovered. Basically, I ended up a pretty self-loathing and world-loathing human being and lost all care for anything. I would not like to repeat that. So no, I am not going back to that place where all of those memories are, where it is winter for six months every year, where Detroit is dying and everyone is calmly digging their graves, resigned to slowly dying with it. I prefer my prison cell-like room and all of the complaints I have in this entry to that gloom and the stale air. Yeah, it's fresh and clean air because of its chemical purity thanks to the Great Lakes, but it's suffocating all the same. I realize now that the only reason I always thought of Michigan as my home was that I had nothing to compare it to except my one horrible, maladjusted, friendless year in Florida.

So basically, sorry this is not chipper and humorous, but I am a human, and humans get depressed, so I thought it a valid and very integral part of my journey to include in this journal. I have had more than enough time here to think about it. Funny, though, I still haven't found my answer.

That doesn't mean I won't find it. That just means I haven't yet.

1 comment:

  1. Kristin, Sounds to me like you're doing awesome. You're experiencing the cultural wealth and adventure of Korea. You are finishing your school. You are teaching people English. You are forming friendships. You are learning Korean. You're paying your bills.

    Life's already hard enough on everyone. You shouldn't put additional pressure on yourself by focusing on your perceived shortcomings.

    About procrastinating: decide if you want to just relax and rest, or if you want to be productive. Make that decision and stick to it. Relaxing and resting, contemplating is good. Being productive is good. Procrastination is bad.

    About loneliness: I'm still working on that one. (Of Mice and Men... Of Cats and Expats). HAHA! We send you our love from Canada!