Saturday, January 17, 2015

Happy Ending

I am not an ESL teacher this year. I quit my last ESL teaching job (hopefully) ever in December. This year, I am starting by getting married. As you have come to expect from me, my wedding will not be a normal one. The ceremony itself will be in my fiance's hometown in India at the end of this month. We leave from the San Francisco Airport next Friday. After we get back, we will have a reception here in California for friends and family who can't or won't make the trip to India. After the reception, I am going into real estate. There is a man in my Toastmasters club who is a real estate broker, and he is excited to get me set up with his firm. I just need to take three classes and a test. Unless I'm the worst real estate agent ever, I will never have to teach English again!

If you've been reading my blog just recently and feel that this is a huge and very fast life change, take a look at the dates on my previous posts. I only posted once last year. The reason for this is that my life is not interesting anymore. I'm back in my home country, so there aren't many cultural differences to blog about. I'm not one to put the mundane details of my life like grocery shopping and failed parties and getting fat and content with my boyfriend on the internet for people whose lives are no different to read. The original purpose of this blog was to let my family and friends know how I was doing and why I ran away in the first place so that they wouldn't each email or Facebook message me individually with the dreaded three words: "How are you?" or the other three words: "How is Korea?" As I kept blogging, I realized I had fans all over the world. Not tons of them, but more than I ever expected. So I tried to make it more interesting.

Since I got back, my life has not been interesting. I have failed to get a job in marketing, which was the field I was trying so hard to enter in Korea. I have failed to get a job as a secretary, administrative assistant, HR assistant, or recruiter. I interviewed at the same nonprofit for a secretary job, a case worker job, and as a volunteer salsa dancing instructor, but was hired as a part-time ESL teacher. If you learn anything from my silent period post-Korea, it's that you shouldn't go overseas and expect the professional experience you get there to mean anything.

It's really quite awful in some ways. I made it harder on myself socially by moving to California instead of Michigan, because almost my whole life before Korea was in Michigan. On the other hand, there are very few people back there I'd actually like to hang out with, and the ones I didn't want to see but who wanted to see me would be problematic. So I guess a clean slate is good in that way. Nobody knew me here. Without a job and without going back to school, I didn't have any real opportunities to meet anyone, either. So now, after more that two years, I still have very few friends. I've always been a bit bad at making and keeping friends in the first place, and it's much harder now that I have no reason to get out of the house.

But the clean slate is nice. I changed so much in the last 6 years that people who knew me before I ran away to Korea don't really know me now. That's to be expected, right? These days I think about my life in Korea less and less, but when I do look back on it I can't believe that was really me. Was I so brave? Was I so insane? Was I so outgoing? Was I so lonely? Was I so desperate to be someone? I feel like I lived an entire lifetime in those four years. Now that I can see what a mess I made of everything, I can start over and get it right this time. And I wasn't just making a mess of everything in Korea; I was making a mess of everything long before that, and I ran away to forge a completely different path because there was no more track in the direction I was going. I would have been a train derailed in the snow. Instead, I had a good ride and derailed in the concrete of Seoul.

I have no regrets. The choices I made were terrible in terms of building a viable career. But every step I took led me to where I am now, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm not happy every day, singing with birds and summoning rainbows. But for the first time in my life, I don't have the constant feeling in the pit of my stomach that I need professional help. I don't. I did when I was confused and stressed and lonely and scared and ashamed of myself. But I'm not those things anymore. I'm still moody, but not clinically moody. I'm still a bit of an insomniac, but I don't start projects at 3am. I'm still unsure of my professional future, but I'm not scared of it anymore. I'm still a bit lonely because I don't have enough friends, but I have my mother and brother in the area and a great fiance. And I'm still ashamed of some things I've done, but not of who I am.

For anyone who is thinking of selling everything and going to live in a country you've never even visited before, think of the impact it will have on the people in your life. If nobody depends on you and you have a safety net in case you crash and burn like I did, go for it. It will be hard, and if and when you ever return it will be even harder, but if you're looking to run away do it now before anyone depends on you. If you have children or sick family members, wait. Running away was the most selfish thing I've ever done, and I hurt my parents a lot. The experience has caused me to grow up so much that I have been working to be a better daughter. I think my relationship with my parents now is the best it's ever been. If you're desperate to go somewhere else, make sure everyone knows it's to find yourself, not to get away from them. You might not think you need those bridges you're burning, but you probably will.

Like I said, my life is not interesting anymore. I like it that way. The extreme highs and lows of life in Korea kept me on edge and I went crazy. Here in California, the weather is consistent. My mother's presence is consistent. My brother's presence is as consistent as he gets. My fiance's love for me is consistent. Surprisingly, my love for him is consistent. My Toastmasters club is consistent. These things keep me grounded. But there is so much variety here that I don't get bored. It's a perfect balance. I had to be dangerously unbalanced to finally appreciate the value of balance.

This could be my last post. Probably not, but maybe. I always posted when I was antsy, depressed, bored and lonely, desperate for the approval of strangers on the internet, etc. I was always alone when I posted. But I'm getting married in two weeks, and unlike my failed experiment in Korea, I understand what that means and I want it. I'm not going to be alone and emotional in the middle of the night, when I do my best writing. You can see from this post that my writing is getting bland from lack of insanity. Consider this my happy ending. It's at least a happy beginning. See, I was always hanging on by a thread of hope that tomorrow wouldn't be as bad as today. For the first time in a long time, I'm not hanging on. I'm standing comfortably in today. And I'm not hoping tomorrow won't be as bad as today. I'm expecting it to be more or less the same, possibly even better. And that, my friends, is happiness to me.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations, and my very best wishes to you Kristin. I have enjoyed peeking into your life, thank you for sharing your adventures. I'm sure your life will still be interesting, though maybe not in such a dramatic way. You will experience all the joys and challenges that your multi-cultural marriage and family will bring! I bet you'll have some notworthy things to say in the future, and I hope you feel willing to share them with the world.