Monday, May 7, 2012

Post-Honeymoon Grumblings

Humans are strange.  Why is it that people experience major life changes in nearly identical stages? Even people who have never moved away from their hometowns were able to predict the phases through which we'd pass during the year in Korea.  First, the honeymoon stage.  Everything was new and exciting for a few months.  We missed home, but we were much more focused on the sparkly newness surrounding us to notice. 

We were distracted by the new job and all its intricacies,
the new living quarters,
the new friends and co-workers,
the new food and culture,
the new lifestyle.

After the dust settles, you start noticing you're not in Kansas anymore.  The loogies in the street that once humored me now revolt me.  Now I find ordering a meal based on a nothing more than a blurry photo frustrating instead of exciting.  Nothing sounds better than a strong, steaming cup of black coffee.  When walking into the grocery store, I wish I could find whole grain bread, oatmeal, and normal cheese, then get the hell out.  I want the simple comforts from home I never even realized were comforts.

It's coming on three months since our arrival, and I've certainly hit a wall.  I'm by no means miserable or even regretful.  I just miss home.  With the newness worn away, conversations now turn to plans for the future (along with a fair amount of pissing and moaning, of course). What do I want out of life?  Where do I want to live? What job can I envision doing day after day? What most influences my overall happiness?

Though it can at times be unnerving, overall I find this stage even more exciting than the honeymoon stage.  These are big decisions. I can do (within reason) whatever I want. Only three months in, and I already feels my eyes opening.  Who knows what ten more will reveal.  I feel more confident in my decision making partly because my first big life decision (coming to Korea) has turned out so well.  It was precisely the right decision made at the right time.  Also, being here on my own, suddenly every decision is up to me.  I can't and shouldn't phone home with every prodding dilemma.

I used to think, "I can do whatever I want in life. I just have to figure out what I want."  I realize now that I never truly believed that.  I have a much better and stronger perspective compared to when I started college.  And that's when I was supposed to choose what to do with my life.  Obviously I wasn't ready then; I kept changing paths until I eventually just stalled. Now, my mind is clear.  No graduate program is left unexplored, and no interest is ignored. I'm contemplating whether some career out there can fulfill a strong majority of my interests, or if rather, I should find a job that gives me freedom to pursue my interests outside of work.  No decisions have been made, but no doors have been closed either.  This will be a more stressful and complicated phase, but a much more monumental one. 

I can't say I'd have this same philosophical experience if I were into my second year working as a nurse or just finishing a graduate program in Education.  Some say I'd be more accomplished, whatever that means, but I just think I'd be less content.  Who knows if I would have encountered this phase at all.  I'm growing up and gaining wisdom, which in turn will lead to the sort of lifestyle I'd call accomplished.

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