Two years ago, my husband, Micah and I ventured off on an unknown adventure to South Korea. We knew no one. All we had was each other. We left the United States with the endless tears of our worrisome parents and siblings. The excitement and encouragement from close friends and the skepticism of associates. We left our small state, Rhode Island, with a desire to follow our dreams and to see the world in a different light. As we get ready to transition back to the United States, I sit with my morning coffee, reflecting on all the lessons, experiences, and revelations I have discovered while living in a foreign land. I come to realize we are ALL pilgrims on a journey. The moment we make a decision, we set out on an unknown path, hoping and praying the result will be rewarding. Sometimes the reward is far greater than we could have ever imagined. And there are other times when the end result is deafening. But as I come to the end of this journey, I wonder if it’s really the end result that matters the most or is it the small intricate details of all the experiences that helped uncover the stages in life and the beautiful treasures residing deep inside of me.
Adventure of A Lifetime
In 2016 when the decision was made to live and work in the Land of the Morning Calm, I viewed it as an adventure of a lifetime. I was curious and excited to be doing something new, out of the box, not mundane or ordinary. Living abroad used to be a dream and my dream was finally being fulfilled. It was no longer something I imagined. It was my reality. I was blown away at my life. Many times I thought I was in a deep coma and at any moment I would be jolted out of my unconscious state. When I first moved to Korea, I had a mixture of emotions. There were times when I thought I didn’t deserve to be here. I felt so small living in a big world with nothing familiar to call home, except my husband. I struggled with the oceans between my closest friends and I. At the beginning of our time here, there was no one for me to call on at any given moment to just hang out. As much as I love my husband, I desperately missed my girlfriends immensely. It took some time for me to step out of my shell and meet new people. But before I could even introduce myself to others, I had to be reintroduced to myself.
I never was in a position where I knew no one. I come from a small state and city; everyone knew everybody. It was here in Korea; I had to ask myself the questions no one really asked me before. ( Such as, who am I? What do I do for fun? Why do I like doing those things? What is Rhode Island like? Why did I move to Korea?) In the states, my friends already knew who I was, what I liked to do, and why I did those things. Rhode Island was nothing exciting for us because we lived there most of our lives. Moving to Korea, was bold and completely left field; but considered courageous. Among other foreigners in Korea, there was a deeper reasoning for moving halfway across the world. It wasn’t about working with international students and traveling. Truth be told anyone could have those skill sets in their home country.
Why leave familiarity?
So, why? — Why Did I move 7,000 miles away from comfort, familiarity, family, and friends? I had to force myself to sit in the truth of my reasoning for being out here instead of there, in the life I already knew. In 2016, I did not realize I was searching. I was desperately in pursuit of discovering me. I knew I had a story worth telling but was taught from a young age to suppress it. I knew I had a voice worth hearing but instead of speaking up, I mumbled. I did not think my words had value. I knew deep down inside I was enough, but I somehow convinced myself otherwise. Moving to Korea was a decision I needed to make to fully uncover my true identity.
The Freedom of Choice
With each new day, I had choices to make. I had to let go of my past. A past I recognized but never dealt with. Each new experience helped me unravel the lies that I was sold over the years. The great adventure of a lifetime I thought I was embarking on when I decided to move to Korea, was me. I had to climb up the steep mountains to peer over the beautiful landscapes I was overlooking. I had to dare myself to raise my voice in triumph, instead of cowering in defeat. I had to accept my process instead of running away from it. It was hard to stand outside of my box and see the state of my life and accept change as a diagnosis. Thinking differently and changing my narrative was a decision I had to make on my own. I could proudly say I recognize and understand where I came from, I know where I am, and I’m prepared to walk into where I’m going.
The Process of Becoming
Many may say, “Did you really have to move halfway across the world to discover these things?” Not necessarily, however, to get to a place where discovery, purpose, and revelation resides within; one must step out of what’s familiar and step into what’s not to find who they are in their process of becoming.
I’ll remember this venture because of my learned experiences. I’ll cherish this time away because of the endless people that left a lasting impression on me. Life has a way of rotating in cycles; past lessons that were not learned rise up in new seasons. Each shift brings a new level of challenge and growth. These past two years have been my growing pains.
As my time in Korea slowly comes to an end, my process of becoming continues and exposes itself to each new day. There is a famous quote from Katharine Hepburn, “It’s not what you start in life, it’s what you finish.” Life was given to me as a gift, the freedom of choice was never silenced but always mine, how I go about exercising and applying my decisions and voice determines my journey. I’m determined to live a life that welcomes discovery, and change. Because at the end of it all, it’s those beautiful treasures that transcend growth in me, my community, and the world at large.