Leavin’ on a Jet Plane

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If you’re not a friend of mine on Facebook (and why aren’t you!?) you may not be aware that I today decided not to pursue a new position here in Korea once my current one ends in a few weeks time. My love for Korea certainly hasn’t diminished and it will be hard to leave behind the good friends – both old and new – that I have on this tiny little peninsula.

For a while now I have been unhappy. Not in the ‘Oh my, life is not awesome’ sense – but in a fundamental sense that I’ve come to find is the norm. Waking up in the morning is harder than it should be, I’ve lost interest in most all of my hobbies (as evidenced by the lack of writing here), and I find that I bounce too often between being happy with things and being either teary eyed or feeling urutterly devoid of hope. For too long I’ve sought to ‘solve’ this problem of being unhappy with a girl, and it’s not fair to the girls or to me that I keep seeking answers in a place I won’t find them. A relationship isn’t a patch you put on something that’s broken, and I need to break that habit.

It’s not just relationships or being unhappy that motivate my decision. I am passionate about writing and yet I continue to go to drastic lengths to avoid really doing it. Despite wanting nothing more than to be a writer – I’ve never submitted a novel to a publisher. I’ve never entered a writing competition or even attempted to find work in the field I am interested in. I take dead end jobs or I jet off around the world, and that’s a lot of fun, but it’s getting me no closer to being the person I want to be. For my whole life I’ve opted to take the easiest possible option, and it’s time that I tried something hard.

Some of my favorite kids at Storia. 2009.
Farewelling Gwangju in 2008. No surprise that I'm still friends with a lot of these fine people.

Over the next week I’m going to put up a blog a day about the seven things that I thing make Korea such a great place to be. I’ve touched on similar topics before. I am not leaving because I hate Korea or because my heart is broken or because I’m sick of working. I love teaching and I love so much about this country. I’m sure within a month or two of being home I’ll be itching to come back. But I’ll fight that urge. I need to figure out exactly who I am and what it is I want from life. And if that does prove to be teaching abroad, then I’ll be both physically, mentally, and emotionally healthier when I get back to it.

Right before I came to Korea back in 2007, I found a weird Christmas decoration with the Korean flag on it. I took it as some sign that I was on the right course, and I kept it amongst my belongings over the next two years.

When I came back this year I didn’t have it with me and, to be honest, I am pretty sure it’s long lost. And maybe that’s a sign too. Korea was the place for me at one point in my life, and as easy as it would be if it was always the place, maybe that’s just not the case anymore.

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  • Anonymous

    Hi Chris,
    I’m sorry to hear you’ve had such a difficult time this time around. I think, however, that you’re being very rational in your thought process, and you’re paying attention to the signs around you. I particularly like the idea that Korea may have been good for you at one point in your life, but might not be so right now. When I moved back to Toronto, I felt like I needed to go back as well… and I have a few friends who did go back. However, I truly wonder if I would have as good of an experience if I go back.

    We find ourselves in places and situations in our lives sometimes for a reason. And at points, when we lose focus or feel utterly lost, we tend to gravitate to the last happy memory, or experience that brought us joy. Thing is, what brought us happiness in the past, could very well hurt us in the present… you know? And I think you’re realizing that.

    I’m glad you’re back to writing again. I enjoy your work, and do wish you the very best in your endeavours. 🙂

    Cheers!

  • Anonymous

    You were quite possibly the laziest, most inept teacher I’ve ever come across – someone who lived up to all of the negative stereotypes that Koreans have about foreign teachers (well, apart from serial fornication with Korean women and rampant drug use.) Why you would actually want to continue working in that field is beyond me, a charade that would cheat both yourself and any future employers unlucky enough to hire you.

    That being said, you are a damn good writer. One of my guilty pleasures is reading this blog because I enjoy reading your stories and insights about this country. It’s rare to find someone with real writing talent, and you have that in spades. So get the hell out of Korea, stop making excuses and pretending to be an English teacher, and start doing what it is you have the desire and talent to do. Life is waiting for you.

    • Anonymous

      Come across? That would imply we have met before. Possibly worked together.
      Who is this?

  • Tiffany

    I always find it interesting that people must go home to find themselves; I’ve found that in order to do that, that one must not be home. What kind of growth can there be in a place of utter familiarity,where you will always be what and who you were in the past, both to yourself and to others? On the other hand, maybe you have gathered what you needed in other places and faces, and now you are ready to be where you always belonged. 
    In any event, I think it is wonderful that you are making a deliberate choice to finally pursue your writing and perhaps cultivate happiness through that journey. You are right, you cannot find happiness in a person or place since you follow you whomever you are with and wherever you may be. I hope you find what you are looking for and are brave enough to face it and embrace it when you find it. 

  • Marion

     Chris, it really does take courage to go back home again. I’m so proud of you for analyzing honestly what’s been going on with you in Korea and having the courage to go home and figure out what it is you’re looking for. I can relate and have to say that I felt very much the same way when I left, having realized that maybe the second time around might not have been the best choice. Being home will centre you and help you gain strength from the people who are rocks for you at home. Good luck with the journey!

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