How Far We’ve Come: From Surviving to Thriving in Seoul

What a year this is shaping up to be! Not too many months ago, I would never have expected to be enjoying my life as much as I do here. Busted ankle Christine would have laughed in your face if you told her she’d be strutting around Seoul like a champ these days. I’ve made friends that have become like family and I’ve learned so much about teaching, adult life, friendships, and myself! Here are some thoughts about some of the predominant lessons I’ve learned since moving to Korea.

Balance is essential to sanity. Living through months of uncertainty and upheaval of everything that was comfortable and familiar, it has become so clear to me how important it is to not take life too seriously and to seek balance. Life is the hardest thing anyone ever has to do and it requires consistent work and effort, but I’m realizing that I’m happiest when I’m in a routine that works for me and when I’m working diligently toward the things that matter to me.

Being embarrassed is a waste of time. There were so many times studying abroad that I was so self-conscious about potentially looking stupid or out of place or speaking Italian with imperfect grammar that I stopped myself from living freely. Korea has made me SO much less self-conscious, sometimes I don’t even recognize myself and it’s amazing. It took being so uncomfortable and so out of place for me to adapt in a constructive way. There is still so much that is imperfect and sometimes I still  do embarrassing things—I fall down a set of stairs at least bi-monthly and I have yet to wear white to work and not get red sauce on it by the end of the day—to name a few of the tamer ones. But, I’m confident now in a way I haven’t ever been before.

Don’t overthink it. Myer’s Briggs has me pegged as a big “T” and accurately so; I am a very deep thinker. I think about everything, all at once, all the time. If I have my way, I like to think everything out for an excessive amount of time before I make a decision. I’m constantly weighing risk to reward potential in my brain and playing out hypothetical situations in my head. Thankfully, I’ve been really fortunate to have made some great friends here that have helped teach me that sometimes it’s better to just jump into a situation and take the risk. I’m finding that this tempers me in a delightful way and now instead of only saying, “Now wait a minute, is there a better way to do this?”, I hear myself more often reciting, “You’re overthinking it, just do it”, and for this I am pleased.

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