I had a phone interview with a school in Korea tonight, and I was… what’s the word… excited? Nervous? Anxious? Unsure? A combination of all, no doubt. I am excited and nervous about the whole interview process with schools because if I accept this particular job I’ll be there by the end of September. That’s pretty quick. I mean, is that even enough time to fill out all the correct paperwork and have it all submitted and cleared? All of a sudden everything seems to be moving really fast. Or will start to move really fast really soon. This is a school outside of Seoul, which I’m not sure how I really feel about. I was kind of expecting to just be in Seoul… live in that big city vibe. But maybe a smaller town will be a good transition into a major world city eventually. I don’t know. All of a sudden I have all of these unsure feelings! My attitude is generally nonchalant and airy, and with a wave of my hand I know that everything will work out and I’ll end up where I’m supposed to (yea, my brain really does work that way).
But then I have these moments: when it kind of comes down to it… what if I make a mistake?
What if I should be in Seoul, but I jumped at the first offer that I got instead and missed out on something huge? And what if it sucks? What if my culture shock gets really bad and I’m horribly depressed for weeks, or even months? At first I pictured myself in Seoul surrounded by tons and tons of expats, all cool and like-minded/natured as myself. Does that exist outside of Seoul? Of course it does. But my fear or is that I’ll be one of like five expats in an entire community, and getting to Seoul will take a while and will cost a ton of money and the whole thing will be a big hassle, so I won’t end up doing it and I’ll be by myself and virtually friendless for a year.
These are my fears in a nutshell.
However, when I’m done panicking and I take a deep breath and come back to myself I know that I will end up exactly where I’m supposed to. I believe this to my core. I will be lead in the right direction and will end up exactly where I’m supposed to. And I do love the thought of being somewhere smaller and having this great alone time, but I don’t want to be in a completely remote location. The one thing I loved most about my time in Arizona was how secluded I was from everyone and everything. That was the HUGE appeal – the reason I went. Be nowhere and be no one. To give myself silence and space and to let me get my bearings. I had gone through a lot, especially those last few months, and it all kind of happened in a blur. Eventually I was left standing in front of the mirror, unsure of the person looking back at me. I knew that I wasn’t the same person as I was a few years ago, but I didn’t have the brain power, energy or time to sort any of it out. I needed time to think and to feel so that I could take it all and let it become a true part of me. So that was Arizona, and it was exactly what I needed. But now I don’t want to be so secluded from everyone and everything. But a little seclusion wouldn’t really be so bad really. It’s not like I’m huge on going out every night anyway. At all. And the likelihood of me being the only expat for hundreds of miles isn’t really realistic. And it would give me more space to just sit and write and read and experience a calmer culture. Maybe I could get a bicycle and ride that around the town. That would be fun.
Now, here’s another thing that’s hitting me – not for the first time or anything – but it’s all becoming more real. I’ll be leaving the U.S. for a long time. It’s not like I’ll never come back, obviously, but I don’t have plans to come home every year – because that would get horribly expensive. So here’s this weird crossroads of wanting to come home and see everyone, even feeling some sort of obligation to come home, but also wanting to continue on my travels and not spend a ton of money on flights to and from the U.S. each year. However, the great side to all of this is that my friends and family are ALWAYS welcome wherever I am. You want a sweet cultural vacation? Come visit me wherever I happen to be. You have a freak-out and need a huge change in your life? I’m there for you. I expect you all to take me up on this when you need it. I can’t be the only one world traveling, and I would love nothing more than to show you my life in that country. Show you why I love it and why I feel that this is where I need to be, and to show you why it’s worth being loved so much.
A lifestyle like this should only be led by those who can’t imagine living any other way. A lot of people say how much they would just like to pick up and go with only a backpack and the world at their finger tips – but this takes commitment! It has its own hardships, like leaving all familiarity behind, and even though you think you’re as prepared as you can be, there will always be times where you have to wing it and let the chips fall as they may. You don’t get to have a car, you have to put up with weird bathrooms, completely different food, not being able to communicate with everyone, not being able to read simple shop or road signs, not being able to easily find deodorant… these are things that you must be prepared to give up. However, despite all of this, the thought of settling down for more than a year, or even a few years, in one place feels like someone has suddenly taken all the breath out of your lungs. The thought conjures up an image of a noose around your neck, or the picture of you trying to claw your way out of an iron cage.
Yeah, the feeling really is that strong, dramatic as it seems.
Needing to move around so much isn’t for the purpose of fleeing from anything, and it’s not necessarily like you’re searching for anything either (however, if a psychologist were to have one of us under a microscope I’m sure he would say a traveler is always searching for a place to truly call home), but the thought of staying in and experiencing one place for years and years seems… restraining. I know that it’s a natural and normal thing to go to school, get a job, get married, raise kids, move a small handful of times, and then finally retire to someplace warm near water. This is the usual, normal path in life, no? But that life seems more unfamiliar and unnatural to me than it is to live out of a suitcase and to continuously face culture shock. Not saying that leading this “normal” life is bad – in fact, I envy it a little. You get to settle in one place with loved ones and have a nice, daily routine. You get a house and you get to decorate and keep all of your furnishings, not worrying that it won’t fit into a suitcase for your next move. You get to form deep, meaningful friendships and, here’s the key, you actually get to stick around for them. Do you know how much I would love to see my best friends whenever I wanted? But then I remember that if I stuck around forever I would eventually be miserable and no one would enjoy being around me anyway.
Although I am getting jitters about the big move, I know that it’s what I’m supposed to be doing. Whether I take this job or another one, it’ll be the right place. So, with that bottom line, I wave my hand nonchalantly in the air and have faith that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.