Last night someone asked me, "Where were you a year ago?". A year ago I was with some friends in Vancouver at a brewery. I never expected that a year later I would be walking the streets of Seoul on the way to a New Year's Party at a diplomat's residence inside a US. Army Base.
As someone who has Type-A personality characteristics (sense of urgency, planner, doer, etc), I got a wave of nostalgia thinking about all of the things that have happened in the past year that I had no way of foreseeing or planning for:
- Finishing one of the most challenging college semesters ever (student government, thesis, etc)
- Graduating college (~Hurrah, Hurrah Pennsylvania Hurrah for the Red and the Blue~)
- Investing a lot of myself in a very loving, intense relationship with someone
- Spending a summer exploring and working in D.C. & spending my birthday in the Windy City
- Living abroad and by myself for the first time in the "motherland" & meeting, working with, and learning from North Korean defectors
I'm grateful for all these experiences I've had this year. Yet, this year has been a rollercoaster and as of now, I feel a bit lost. Maybe it's the post-college blues + living in a new country. Maybe it's because a big constant in my life of the past ~2 years is no longer playing the same role. Maybe it's because I don't know what I'm going to do after June.
Lost isn't necessarily a bad thing. There are many exciting possibilities. Knowing that the world is your oyster is empowering. But in some moments, it feels lonely and uncertain, and that can be scary.
Sometimes I have moments where I feel like I have a bird's eye view of my life: my past, present, future and all the relationships that intertwine and affect me in a certain way. When I feel that way, I look at how certain things I feel or experiences I go through: the excitement of exploring new places and ways of being, heartache that accompanies a separation with someone you love, or the sense of possibility of the future is so personal yet so universal at the same time. I think there's great beauty in this phenomenon. I think it's this paradox that helps me to be okay with being lost- many people, if not most feel lost in their life at some point or another.
New Year's also means resolutions. Last year, I made a resolution to stop biting my nails. I'm proud to say that I kept my resolution until the very end (and hopefully kicked the habit for good-woohoo!) This year my resolution is to focus on self-care.
What is self-care? One of my best friends says something she does to heal from a painful event is to wake up every morning and say "I'm going to try my best to be happy today". It's about taking things one day at a time. I think this is a good starting point. I feel like the past year I've spent a lot of time thinking and caring about other people. Whether it was student government where I was pulled in a million different directions all the time (constant texts, e-mails, etc) or even my relationship, where I invested a lot of myself into. I learned and grew a lot from these experiences, but I feel like it's been awhile since I've truly focused on self-care and self-growth. Even in many experiences of self-reflection, I feel like I have done so with someone/other people in mind (e.g. "maybe I feel this way because this person has felt this way in this kind of situation before" instead of "I really feel this way even if this person has felt this way in this kind of situation").
I hope this resolution will lead to "healing". "Healing" or 힐링 is what Koreans colloquially say when they talk about healing from an emotional experience. I think it's pretty funny and indicative of the Korean practice of taking certain English words and using it in contexts that the original word was not used in (e.g. "well-being", case by case", etc). Nevertheless, I hope 2016 will lead to self-care and healing. Happy new year/새해 복 많이 받으세요!