What Did 2013 Teach Me?

It’s January, 1st – finally. To think, one year ago today, I woke up in the Hilton Hotel after having the worst date ever. The next day, I had a job interview – that I got and am currently working at now and then I took a plane to Jeju Island, where I worked at a winter camp and met a man that I was semi infatuated with, yet later would learn, would be a big source of anguish, pain and anger (not necessarily in a romantic way).

This is the first New Years Eve in about eight years, I stayed at home and did not drink. In fact, I feel asleep before 12, waking up at 11:45pm. I did not think the clock striking 12 would be so emotional for me, but I cried. I spent the last 15 minutes of 2013 thinking about all the shit I was leaving behind in that year and I felt good. I wanted that horrible mess to be thoughts of that year and not of the new one. When it went 12, I was in bed. I could hear a few cheers and a few moments later, some fireworks – that I wish I could of seen, too. I was happy to say “I am going HOME this year” – after not being in South Africa for 2 years now. I can finally say, my work contract will end NEXT month and soon, I’ll be taking my deserved holiday in Thailand and then hopping on a 24 hour flight, home.

I’m glad I am not hungover. I am starting off the year right. But, before closing off the regrets of 2013 – I wanted to note the things that I did learn.

I learnt to let go of a relationship that was toxic for me. Having spent a lot of time and energy on one person, I find it hard to let go. I did. And that is one more thing that I have overcome.

I learnt to be comfortable with a man, as a friend.

I learnt the meaning of hard work. Yes, I worked hard in my first year in Korea – 35 hour teaching lessons a week and a boss that was less than accommodating – but this year, i truly stretched my  knowledge as a teacher, or rather, an ESL teacher (hopefully that will transcend when I am teaching back home). I learnt to work with a difficult boss, yet at the end of the day, she only made me a better teacher – even though I feel her motives were not to make me better, but rather train me to do the work that she did not want to do herself.

I learnt that I now value the peace and serenity of a quiet town. Moving from a small town to the city, living down town, I feel anxiety and I feel claustrophobic.

I learnt to be conscientious about the way that I look. I no longer live with the wool covering my eyes, oblivious to food choices thinking that it will not make a difference to my quality of life. I have been hard on myself, but I would rather live this way, than wafting through life, barely living, doing things that were bad for me and not feeling remorse for them.

So, I still stand by my choice saying that 2013 was not a good year, I am walking away with some new skills and knowledge that will hopefully following me into this new year, as well as many more to come. I hope to grow more as a person, become more proud and happy with myself thus leading to me make good and healthy decisions.

Happy New Year.

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Korea, Love and Longing

South African with a passion for writing, photography... and nothing much else. I travel the world in order to find the country I like the best. Four years in South Korea makes me a winning survivor of Google translate and charades. Currently, living in Spain. - Love

7 thoughts on “What Did 2013 Teach Me?”

  1. Hey

    I just found your blog yesterday and have read all of your posts. I know how hard it is to be considered “fat” by most people and I continuously struggle with my weight. Eventually I learnt when to tell people to just fuck themselves.

    I’m usually hovering between 80 and 90 kilos and I am a big built girl. I don’t know how to say no to take out and chips. You are a strong person even if you don’t think you are. Take it from a fellow South African, we as women need to grow up strong.

    Even when you feel like the world is going to collapse around you and you can’t take it anymore and even when you fall, don’t let yourself stay down. You have picked yourself back up several times before and don’t change that about yourself. Like a wise man once said it doesn’t matter how many times you fall, all that matters is that you pick yourself back up then fuck up other people’s shit if they mess with you.

    I’ve been thinking about teaching in Korea for a while now and I am also an English and psychology major. To be honest I am just drifting and trying to find my place. Mom didn’t want me to travel to a new place without any family, but my dad has been supportive enough to let me go.

    I can’t empathize on many things that you face, because I’ve never had to deal with the emotional turmoil that you have. But I can wish you luck on your future endeavors, I hope you find what you seek and that you have the success in everything that you do.

    Though I do have one question, do you regret going to Korea?
    Should I give the place a chance and try to make my way, or will I be disappointed and regretful in my journey? The last thing I need is more my mother to say “I told you so” so some advice from you would be most appreciated.

    1. Awesome comment. Thank you so much for taking the time to read through my posts and to write such a lovely reply. So much appreciated.

      You’ve made me realise something. At most, I had lost 16 kg and felt great about myself and my body, about life and even wanted full length photos (shock, horror!) although, even at that weight, I was definitely over weight. Your words “Eventually I learnt when to tell people to just fuck themselves.” – so right! I never have wanted to be the ideal, thin woman, I think chubby or slightly over weight is a good look – however, I think I should get the notion out of my head that I have massive mountains to climb here. If I was happy at -16kg then, that should be my goal. Thank you for that.

      In terms of Korea – oh my gosh, no way have I regretted it. I am the youngest child and have always been handed things – University paid for, no job during Uni, and just kind of being treated like I couldn’t do anything, so I didn’t. Coming here, I have grown so much, I learnt to do everything by myself, in this crazy non-English speaking country, my perspective of the world has changed immensely, I’ve gained independance and also overcome a lot of my fears about love and men that, to be honest, I don’t know I could of done at home (or rather, when), I learnt the meaning of hard work, under sometimes not so easy circumstances. I really do recommend it, especially if you’re looking to spread your wings and learn about the world and probably about yourself. I have had bad days, weeks, months here – but that could of just as well been home.

      So pleased you found my blog. Please message me if you have more questions or anything!

    2. I just wanted to add again – your comment means more to me than you know. You’ve inspired me to do some writing now, that which I don’t do as often anymore and share my thoughts. Writing this blog has mainly been about me letting go of anxiety – but the comments, wow, there really are some amazing human beings out there who care. Thank you again.

  2. Always willing to lend a listening ear if you ever need it…well more like eyes since I can’t literally hear you. Haha

    I’ve been getting into a lot of fights with my parents recently about my decision to finish up my degree and to go to Korea for a while, it’s more the need to be independent more than anything. It’s not like I don’t know how to budget, in my first year in uni (2012) I used to do the shopping, I’ve learnt to cook and clean since I was 12. When my parents left for a month abroad I was the one that was running the house and my grandmother was a mere formality for the care of my sister and myself.

    I get an allowance of R1500 a month of which I barely spend because I need to keep enough for petrol. My family thinks I’m a stooge, but when the money was needed for an emergency operation on my dog that costs R8000, I was the person that put in R3000 of that money or I could’ve put her down. It’s because my dog meant so much to me that I rushed to the nearest ATM and didn’t care about the cost. (Let’s see them call me a stooge again.)

    Most of my cousins and I don’t get along because my decisions made me look much better in the eyes of their parents. It’s not my fault they messed up their lives to the point where others can only shake their heads and say “If only…” Now that I am in Uni they want to mind my business but I shut them off asap because of the useless slander.

    My parents are more worried about me being blown up by the North than anything else. It is a reasonable thought but the North is not really interested in messing things up for themselves. It’s not like I want to stay in Korea forever or run off with a Korean man into the mountains and never come home. (You know you’re parents are doubting you when they question as to whether or not to get you a chastity belt, which is rather sad.)

    I feel like I’m being hindered from becoming the individual I could be. I want to be able to grow and see places. I sometimes feel claustrophobic in the house that I live in, but there is nothing in it that I can say means something in some capacity to me. I didn’t tell anyone else but my family about wanting to work in Korea because like all other families I would get the “Why can’t you find a job in this country? Why do you want to be so far away?” All I want to say is that it’s because I have more drive and ambition than their daughters who got married at 21 and divorced at 22. That I don’t need a man to feel good about myself and that my choices are for my own betterment.

    Since I was a kid I could almost feel the emotions rolling off of people. Which also lead me to making the choice of having and english and psychology degree rather than optometry like my father was pushing for. I want to help kids be the individuals they were meant to be no matter what society they are from. Being from a conservative Indian society I am sheltered, not to say no but I know what it’s like to be rejected several times. I became a loner because of it. I only have four people in my life that really do care and I’ve known them since high school.

    I don’t want for you to feel alone in your struggles. I don’t want for you to not get back up. If you need an arm to pull you back up don’t feel shy to say so.

    I do have one question for you though. Would you go back to Korea in the future? I mean would you be open to the idea of going back voluntarily just because you could?

    Have to go, my patriarchal father is nagging about girls needing to clean the house again for the third time today.

    Sincerely
    Ray

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