A couple weeks ago I had my resignation letter printed out and a list of reasons written furiously in my journal of why I was leaving Korea. But Monday came and went and I didn’t do it. Something about it didn’t feel quite right to me. I looked at the faces of my students each day and cringed a little thinking about handing them over to some stranger. I considered what would be next, what it would take to get another good job and all the effort I had put into getting here and felt exhausted just thinking about it. Above all, I kept thinking that if I gave up on this then what did that mean for who I am and who I want to be. I had this sinking feeling that perhaps I would lose the confidence to ever travel again.
I had to do some hard self-reflection and I came to the conclusion that I was waiting for my situation to change and it wasn’t going to. Korea wasn’t going to change. The job wasn’t going to change. So I would have to. I could do better.
So I said my goodbyes to Don Draper and put down the Netflix. I bought scented candles and a colorful cactus plant for my apartment. I splurged on some sweet new Birkenstock sandals and summer dresses (retail therapy, am I right?). I dragged my ass out to the park every night for a run and I took the time and effort to buy real groceries, veggies and all.
Side note- I asked my kindy if they knew what a cactus was the other day: “Yes,” Roy told me confidently, puffing out his chest in an imitation of the superhero, “Cactus America”.
I stopped hating my apartment and vowed to clean it a million times if I had to, I would get it to a place where I could love it. I started learning the Korean alphabet so I can at least read the signs, even if I don’t know what they mean. I finally mastered “Hello” confidently and can stop mumbling whenever I am greeted. “Annyeonghaseyoooo!”
I’m trying to be more conscious about handing things to people with two hands (one hand place on the inside of the elbow). Anything I can do to improve my daily interactions. It’s true Koreans don’t like outsiders, but I know they appreciate a little effort.
Maybe this isn’t some grand travel adventure like the one I had in mind, but I am still here, living on my own in a foreign city. I can do this. I can work towards being the person I want to be. I can adult.
Especially in these new sandals.