My New Chapter

Many things have happened since the last time I updated you on my life. Last thing you probably remember is me announcing that I am quitting my job, leaving, and traveling for a while. And then I went silent… The past few months (9 months to be exact) has been eventful and a lot happened – not just physically but also emotionally. I’m hoping to tell you all those things when I’m ready to put them into words. For now, I just wanted to tell you the state I’m currently in.

Through my travels, I had a lot of time and opportunity to think about myself, my situation and my future. I got the chance to realize and rediscover what it is that I want to do and what makes me truly happy. I weighted those thoughts with what I think is best for me and my plans changed… immensely.

If you follow me on my Facebook page, you’ll know that I am currently in Korea, a place I call one of my ‘homes’ but have a hard time connecting myself to. I was also here few months ago. There are a few reasons why I’m back here but one of my main reasons is that I decided to give Korea a chance and stay here for a while.

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Deciding to live in Korea:

As you may have read, I am Korean but I left Korea when I was 7 years old. Ever since then, I visited a few times but never really had the time to connect with this place – a place where I understand the language, love the food and look like everyone else but a place, where its many cultural aspects were puzzling and frustrating to me.

When I came to Korea couple of months ago, things started to change. I thought ‘maybe, I should give it a chance… If not now, when will I ever have the opportunity to come back and live here? If I really hate it, I can always leave.”

That was exactly what I thought and decided to do – but when I went to Cambodia, my thoughts started to change again.. ‘I’m not ready to settle, work and live the conventional life I left… I’d rather spend this time exploring and living in other places and doing projects that are worthwhile. I want a free life.’

But, I’m back. I’m in Korea. I have mixed feelings about it still but right now, I’m pretty certain about it. I’m going to give it a chance – be it a month, year, 2 years or more. After all, I am a Korean. If I don’t try living here now, I’ll never know. It’s unfair for me to not be here because of my prejudice and expectations.  And I seem to have found the right type of people who stop me from doing anything conventional. What will I be doing here? I’m going to be learning new things I’ve always wanted to learn, be it dance, sports, a language, etc. I’m going to try jobs that I’ve always wanted to try – be a bartender, barista, freelancer, teacher, yoga instructor etc. I’m not going to pressure myself to be a certain type of person.

I’m pretty confident. I’m pretty excited. I think it’s time for me to let go of all expectations and give this new chapter a try. 

Embracing all emotions, including the negative ones.

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As humans, we experience a variety of emotions. Somedays we are happy, somedays we are sad. Sometimes we feel two or more emotions at the same time. Society tells us that negative emotions are bad and that they destroy us. Eventually, we learn to avoid those emotions. We suppress them, hide them, ignore them and run away from them as far and fast as possible. I remember thinking that it’s not normal to be sad and that being stressed out all the time meant that there was something wrong with you and you should go see a doctor. Then, you are diagnosed with depression and people start pressuring you to be happy again.

One sunny day, I was feeling super lonely and I hated it. I tried to ignore it and keep myself busy by meeting up with friends, going out and trying to have fun. But that feeling never went away and it came back every moment it could when I was left alone. Then, I decided to let myself be lonely. I accepted the fact that running away from it and hiding it wouldn’t make it go away – so I decided to embrace it. I stayed by myself, reading, walking around, people watching and just being lonely – eventually I realized that this ‘lonely’ feeling came because I didn’t know how to be alone. Then I realized how beautiful that feeling actually is -this is the feeling you get when you are  by yourself and how much that feeling differs from when you are constantly surrounded by others. You start listening to your inner needs and learn to be comfortable with the emotion. And now, I have no problem with spending time alone. Sometimes, I need to be alone.

The fact that we feel all these emotions, positive or negative, is a beautiful thing we are granted as humans. The infinite types of emotions simply means that we are alive and that we are capable of feeling them. And embracing them instead of suppressing them is the strongest thing a human can do. Today, I feel nostalgic and melancholy for no reason and instead of finding ways to avoid it, I have allowed myself to feel this way actually makes me content and happy.

It’s natural to have negative emotions – it’s unnatural to be always happy. And in order for you to be happy, you need to learn that sometimes, it’s ok not to be. There are reasons behind every emotions and our goal is to be happier by embracing them, not eliminate them.

The only way to see where you are or where you are going is by stopping.

Map and Compass

Couple of years ago, I was going through a very confusing transition. I was trying to figure out what it is that I really wanted to do in the midst of my thoughts on what I thought I should be doing with my life. Everyone goes through a confusing period like this in life and instead of focusing on solving the problem by thinking it through, I kept myself occupied with a very busy schedule trying as many different things as possible hoping that down the road, something will pop up. Instead of getting answers, I just got even more frustrated and was on the verge of crashing, losing all motivation.

And then time stopped and I was given a chance to think. I had gone on a ten-day trip to Laos thinking I’d get a mini holiday sightseeing and exploring the country but I was wrong. Arriving in Vientiane, I was shocked at how calm and quiet the city was compared to any other cities I have been in. It was almost if time had slowed down in Laos. Initially I hated how bored I was but things changed after a couple of days.

My ten days in Laos consisted of not only walking around, reading books, sightseeing and sitting at a cafe observing my surroundings but more importantly, learning to appreciate doing nothing and in return having the chance to focus on me and only me.

I was able to stop, let go of everything and turn full attention to myself (having barely any internet connection helped me disconnect with the outside world as well). I was learning to be more attentive about my needs and desires, and to reflect on my past, present and future. And everything changed since that moment. I started seeing things in a different perspective which consequently made me happier and more grateful towards life. When others ask me how Laos is, I say it’s beautiful but boring – and that’s why it’s one of my favorite destinations. Laos teaches you how to do nothing but the most important thing everyone needs to learn how to do – stop and reflect.

The only way to figure out where you are going is to stop and look at your surroundings. Sometimes you need to stop, take a break and just focus on nothing else but you.