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. 

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.

Dose of Inspiration: Growing requires you to get out of your comfort zone.

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You cannot grow and be comfortable at the same time because growing requires you to get out of your comfort zone.
I get a lot of inspiration from my yoga classes. This particular quote was from Erica, one of my favorite yoga instructors in Boston (if you are in Boston and need a dose of inspiration and a kick for your abs, go now)! I heard this quote when I was stressed out about the idea of leaving and going towards what others would see as ‘not normal.’ My heart was telling me that going after what I want to do is the right thing to do while my mind was sending red signals to my brain telling me that it was a crazy idea and that I should just stick to what I know how to do – and to be completely honest, part of me was scared to leave.
The reason I love yoga or any other sports or dance for that matter, is that it teaches you to get out of your comfort zone. I first fell in love with sports when I was 14. I have always been the creative/musical type, loved everything art, played in a jazz band, sang in choirs, etc. Anything that required me to use my non-existant athletic skills, I stayed far away from – until, our basketball coach saw us doing nothing after school one day and made us come try out. To my surprise, I got into the team and since then, I’ve tried any sports I could – not just a hobby but with passion. Basketball, soccer, all types of dances, yoga, kickboxing, the list goes on. The more I challenged myself physically, the more I realized I could get out of my comfort zone and it usually led to better things, made me a better person.
That’s how things are in yoga and in life – at least that’s how I look at it. As I sat at the beginning of class wondering whether the decision I made was crazy and unnecessary, I was just worried about leaving the familiarity and going into the life of unpredictability, something I am not comfortable with at all. But, at the end of the class, I knew that nothing new is comfortable (like my new boots that still kill my feet) and in order for me to go beyond where I am now, I need to get out of my comfort zone.
So, thanks Erica for the awesome inspiration. Check out her class schedule on her Facebook page