May 19th, 2013

visor sneer

생활에 대한 생각

Megan and I had a discussion the other night. I mentioned that I was thinking about staying one more year at my school because they'd probably give me a huge raise/etc. I'm going to paraphrase what she said: "Don't." She also told me that she didn't know why I came back to Korea after I left my old school. I've been thinking a lot about this today.

I had a lot of reasons at the time: I had a relationship, I had a lot of friends, I liked my life here. Almost immediately after I returned my relationship ended and most of my closest friends left. I proceeded to fall into a massive depression. 2012 was not a good year. I didn't give much thought into re-signing with my school for another year; I wanted money and this was a good, reliable way to earn it.

I know I've been dissing my job a lot this year, but my life is quite a bit better these days. Particularly since I started studying Korean again. I've been so bored over the last few years. I would go to work, come home, eat dinner, and read or watch TV until it was time to sleep. Starting private tutoring has impacted my life for the better: I study 5-6 days a week, I started exercising for an hour a day 6 days a week, I've been eating healthier. I've immersed myself in Korean culture (to the best of my ability) and I've found myself gaining a passion for Korean culture, literature, history... all of it. I've even re-gained my interest in sexuality and gender studies.

Starting tutoring was a bit of a whim. I've been hanging out with people who actively study Korean, which played a role in my decision. I'm not a person who functions well without solid goals. That's been my big issue for the last few years. I paid back my loans in April 2011 and since then I've been meandering through life. That's no way to life. I formulated some artificial goals: starting in 2014 I would move to Seoul and intensively study Korean, with the intention of going to graduate school in 2015. The other reason I decided to start taking classes now was because I figured I've wasted a lot of time over the last few years. Why wait to study? Why not do it now?

I don't know if I'll obtain my goals or not. Megan thinks I should move to Russia and call it quits with this Korea thing. My father agrees, although he thinks I should move back to Chicago and live in the basement for the rest of my life. My mother knows that I'll just do whatever strikes me at the time. These are nice goals, with some pleasing end results, but who knows if I'll achieve them?

Here's the truth: I'm going to achieve them because I am lazy. I live in Korea and I have spent a lot of time building a life here and becoming accustomed to the culture. I have it in my mind that I will move to Seoul, so I'll do it. I'll spend 2014 studying Korean at Yonsei or Sogang or a hagwon somewhere, and then I'll attend whichever grad school lets me in for whatever I end up deciding to study. I don't want to start over again somewhere else, not yet. It's taken me a lot of time and effort to get to this point. I don't know if I want to do this again. But these are some good goals and it's good for me to be ambitious. I need a little ambition in my life.

I started writing this post because I was feeling depressed. I'm not fluent in Korean and I've lived here for 3.5 years. I'm single. Just when I make new friends they up and leave Korea. I look at my Facebook feed and yes, I see all of the people who are living the same lives they lived when they were 16, but I also see people with families and careers and children. My best friend from my first year of university graduated from med school yesterday. I edited the essay that got him the scholarship that helped him consider med school an option. Another friend just uploaded photos of him and his boyfriend of 3 years. I knew him when he didn't even consider himself gay. Other friends have kids, they're buying houses. I live in an apartment my school provided. I may have money in the bank, but I don't have a real career. When I stop studying and think about my life I feel stagnant.

I am sometimes concerned that I am going to be one of those people who never settle down. But frankly, I'm nowhere near being able to settle down. I have a lot of life left to live before buying a house and having children is an option. Studying Korean is a bit of a lifeline for me; I am desperately hoping that it will provide opportunities for a better life, although I'm fully aware that it may not. But most of all, studying Korean is my attempt to become a better person. I may not attend grad school or have kids or whatever, but I have goals to pursue so I will not stagnate and continue being a disaffected, misanthropic youth. Studying Korean also makes me happy. I have something to work for. Every new word I learn opens up the pathways to Korean culture. Without these goals, I would continue being everything I hate. These goals make all of the difference.
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