I’ve been writing, I just haven’t been posting. After my rough November things got to the point where I needed to take several steps back, re-evaluate, and come up with a real plan to take care of myself. This included stopping the posting of my writing because sharing my experiences was actually contributing to my problems.
I suffer from anxiety and my time in Korea has helped me realize that I have struggled with this disease for a very, very long time. I don’t want to get too into this right now, I feel like anxiety is trending in Hollywood and everywhere you turn. In a way it’s good because people are becoming aware and the stigma might be going away (slightly). In a way it’s bad because of the possibility of people being desensitized and not taking it seriously. The details about my anxiety is not the focus of this post but I needed to preface with the fact so that the rest of the post makes sense.
On my last week at my job teaching at a public elementary school in Daegu South Korea, I went to a work dinner. It was a welcome dinner for new teachers and a goodbye dinner for me. My contract ended one month into the new school year in late March. I was asked to give a speech about my experience teaching at the school and my time in Korea. I kept is short. I lied and said I had an amazing year. I did not. It was actually an incredibly challenging year coping with my anxiety and coming to terms with the decision I had made to walk away from my career in television production. In the society we live in, we are defined by what we do for a living. When you take the title away, you are faced with who you really are and how you want to define yourself. I ended my speech by saying that the school had amazing children and that I would miss them very much. This was not a lie. I had grown very attached to a lot of the kids and they, without knowing, helped me get through the year. At that moment, I choked. It all hit me at once. I had made it through the year even though I had so many moments where I thought I just wasn’t going to make it.
My anxiety kept me away from making friends and building substantial relationships in Korea. While in Daegu, I stayed away from people on purpose because I knew I wasn’t fully myself. And I feel like it was what I needed to do to get better. Long story short, I was able to get professional help for the first time in my life, and I am SOOO much better now.
I had decided that I would not be renewing my contract at my school in Daegu some time during my terrible November. There was no way I would continue working with ‘Sir Teach Alone.’ What I didn’t know was that I would be teaching with with 2 new co-teachers for my last month at the school. My cool co-teacher had become a homeroom teacher and my nightmare guy co-teacher had left the school to work elsewhere. My main co-teacher and I had become sort of friends and I was still teaching with her. The two new co-teachers were super cool. It actually bothered me that they weren’t around during my difficult year. I think we could have not only been co-workers but good friends. Anyway, here is a picture of us on my last week when they took me out to dinner.
Here’s me with some of my kids on my last day of school and some of the cards they made me for my send off.
So, where am I now? Believe it or not I decided to stay in Korea. I surprised myself with that decision too. Only this time I would stay on my own terms. I moved to a city called Suwon, closer to my boyfriend, closer to Seoul and a considerably less conservative city than Daegu. I chose my own living situation and found a very small private academy with amazing flexible working hours and great coworkers. At the moment, I love my new city, I love my new job and I absolutely love my new apartment. I was talking to a friend the other day and I caught myself, in the most natural way, without any thought or hesitation saying, ‘I’m happy.’ I still have a lot of work to do to reach my new goals but, I’m finally in a place where I can move forward rather than the circle that I had been stuck in for so many years.