It’s happened. I’ve turned 27 and for the first time in years, I actually feel older. I think a lot of how I feel has to do with the fact that I know that this coming school year in Korea will be my final year (contract ends in Feb. 2019). My time in Korea has been so awesome! I’ve had some highs and low for sure, but in general this experience has and is continuing to teach me a lot about myself and others. I came to Korea with an overseeing goal of wanting to be more independent. I’ve definitely found that independency (still working on them finances though 🙈😂) and it’s great to know that I can actually handle a lot more than I initially thought. Living on your own isn’t easy…especially when you’re all the way across the world from the family and friends that you love and care about. I’m the type of person that genuinely enjoys his alone time and even for me at times it would be tough to not be able to run over to my friend’s house for a weekend sleepover, or annoy my sister and force her to watch Buffy with me, or play with my nephews, and so many other things. The holidays can be pretty tough because of this.
This year I’ve been so insanely busy that I didn’t even notice when a holiday had arrived. On Halloween, a student greeted me by saying, “Happy Hello-ween!” and I was thinking, “Oh yeah! It IS Halloween!” Just this week I was asking my co-teacher what lesson I needed to prepare for Monday’s classes and she was like “Don’t come to school…it’s Christmas”. And I’m like…
But what does my time in Korea have to do with me feeling older? I knew from the beginning what kind of sacrifices it would take to move here. As I mentioned a little bit earlier, I’m not able to see my friends or family outside of social media, texts, FaceTime, etc. I’ve had a friend come out to visit and we had such an awesome time, but not everyone can afford to do that. So realistically when I left, I had to tell myself that I wouldn’t be seeing those I love for a good two…maybe even three years. I don’t know if a lot of foreign English teachers experience this in Korea, but in many ways I feel like my personal life was put on hold and has been since 2015 when I left…which in turn means that it won’t resume until 2019 when I go back to the states. The fact that this time is being taken out of the second half of my 20s scares me to death actually. Thankfully once I do get back to America I’ll be “freshly” 28 so that gives me about two years to figure things out before I turn 30. I know it’s possible and I’m very likely overthinking all of this, but this is just how I honestly feel. So because half of me is thinking so deeply about 2019 and the other half of me is living in the present, I already feel like I’m 28 and it’s just going to be a looooooong year. 🤣
Jobs is another aspect I think about as well. I want to get into the film/TV industry so that’s another reason why I worry about my age. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret for a second my decision in coming to Korea and I would do it all over again if given the choice. (I’d probably save more early on but yeah, LOL). We all know “Hollywood” has the ageist thing going on so a part of me definitely worries if I’ve already missed the mark. I’m not trying to be in front of the camera (except on YouTube) so maybe that’s a good thing, but I feel like the younger you are in the industry the higher the probability of getting hired. I still plan to go for it and try, but the worry is definitely there.
The last thing I’ll touch on a little bit (why is this sounding like an essay now) is love. During lunch one day, I asked my co-teacher how people in Korea see LGBT people. She told me, “It’s a taboo subject” and that was it. We both went back to slurping our soups in silence. Being half Korean I already had an idea of what the answer would be, but I think I was hoping to hear something a little more encouraging. Needless to say, I haven’t come out to any Korean people in Korea. Since I arrived I’ve been very careful about what I say (especially because in Korea, very personal questions are asked all the time) so it’s important that I let people get to know me for me outside of being gay because I think if it was the other way around, I worry people wouldn’t want to give me a chance. In a worse case scenario, I could see me not being allowed to teach the kids because maybe some parents wouldn’t feel comfortable with it and whatnot. It would completely destroy me if I was fired from my job simply for being gay. As much as I love my job and despite the few times I’ve actually wanted to share my story with others here, I’ve always stopped myself because I think about how it could put my job in jeopardy if it was received in a negative way. And in Korea…news spreads fast. So keeping all of this in mind, I haven’t been dating in Korea. Even if I felt safe enough to do that, I kind of see it as a pointless thing since I know I won’t be living here forever. The first co-teacher I had told me that I shouldn’t be surprised if I meet a girl and get married and live here for a rest of my life. I told her, “You know me so well. 😂” But she was right about one thing…I did end up staying longer than the two years I initially said I would. So yeah…dating. That’s another reason why I feel like time is going by but nothing is happening in my personal life. I’m working, helping my kids grow (or at least trying to), but I’m not progressing in building a family that I hope to one day have and because I’m frozen in time I get a bit antsy thinking about what life would be like right now had I been living in the states these last two years.
At the end of the day, even though 27 will come and go, one thing that gives me hope is the fight that I have for my future. Even though I’ll be coming back with less time left in my 20s than I was anticipating, I want that to be a motivator for me to try my best in everything that I do: getting a job, going for new opportunities, expanding on my YouTube dreams, finding love, and more. I’m sure I will get to a point some time in this coming year where I’ll accept the future for what it will be and then I’ll be able to take the time to appreciate the last moments I have with my kids, co-workers, friends, and family here so that once I do leave, I’m not leaving behind anything left unsaid or undone that I wish I had. That’s want I want for my 27th year. One of my best friends said, “27 will be a good year, I feel it” so I’m hoping to see that to be true. I’m thankful for all of the blessings, accomplishments, and even the difficulties that came during 26. I look forward to the life lessons 27 has to offer. And so with that, I want to say thank you for all of the birthday wishes I’ve received! I love you guys! ❤️