Already, three weeks have passed. At the time of writing this, it’s Christmas Evening. The surreal feeling hit me that I am spending Christmas here in Korea. For the first time, I am spending my airplane day (gotcha day, adoption anniversary), Christmas, and my parents’ anniversary away from home, family, and friends.
This is not saying that I don’t feel that I belong or am at peace here in Korea. The last 21 days have proven to be full of exploration, rest, growth, and healing. A couple weeks ago, I was bedridden and completely incapacitated in my Harry Potter closet goshiwon. A lot has happened in a few weeks. After getting accustomed to my class schedule, building relationships and making friends through school and church, and meeting the rhythm of the city, I am finally feeling a confidence that I haven’t felt in a long time.
The most significant theme this week was finding friends and building relationships. It is always difficult to find a healthy community wherever you go. Many of my peers and transient young people have talked about it taking about a year to feel that they really adjust to new people and a new place enough to call it ‘home’. For me, days 15 through 21 have meant reprioritizing and slowing down.
The best blessings for me this week have been connecting with a church via a very close friend and mentor (Thanks Sarah!!!), and being invited into a life group that meets several times a week. Glen, the group leader and I have become pretty close. We geek out about baking and cooking, are both artists, and have similar themes in our upbringing. He has been extremely inclusive, welcoming, and… well, friendly since my time here. Our group goes to different cafes and restaurants every Sunday after church, and occasionally meet up on weeknights to have dinner after work/class. In a huge and bustling place, it’s nice to have people and time to just hang.
On a deeper note, it has been a long while since I have felt spiritually open and present. I had almost forgotten how important the act of worship is to me and my identity. Being in a completely new place with entirely different people has given me space to reflect on my spiritual and creative growth, which are very much so intertwined. There is something about a “clean slate” or “new soil” that provides room for reaching roots to find something to hold on to. As well as clean and uncluttered air for a trunk to grow and stretch it’s arm-branches.
Upon stepping away from a lot of things at home, I have had some space to breathe a bit. I struggle with valuing myself based on the level of productivity that I’m operating at, as well whether or not my passions and dreams are practical enough to pursue. There’s this image of busy-ness and the romantic/glorious “hustle” and “grind” that I fell into, thinking that in order to be good enough I had to juggle all these different projects and initiatives. Don’t get me wrong, the things I am passionate about are very worth pursuing, but it started to feel like running in a hamster wheel, needing a break, and stepping out to find myself on another hamster wheel. I put an enormous amount of pressure on myself to stand out, set a standard, and be more than myself.
After a mental and emotional reset in week 2, my priorities have become 1. Be a student, 2. Eat all of the food, and 3. Just go with the flow. Following this, I have entered in a season of some really great creative, emotional, and spiritual clarity that has lead to some much needed healing and rest. More on this next week! To finish, here’s a poem I wrote out of a place of newly found connections, peace, and fulfillment.
2 thoughts on “Korea Notes : Week 3”
Karl, it’s so good to read about your venture, your seeking and finding. I feel a sense of excitement and energy with everything I’m reading. So glad to have this blog to be on the journey with you. ☮️
Hi Paul. I’ve thought about my conversation with you and Gary after your farewell party a good handful of times. Thanks so much for your encouragement.