If gearing up for this journey has taught me anything it’s that you are as strong and powerful as you allow yourself to be, and that the most difficult part of any endeavor is taking the first step, making the first decision.
So here I am, my decision is made, my bags are (almost) packed, my flight is booked and I’m…I’m…moving to the other side of the planet.
What I’m discovering pre-departure however, is just how much is actually involved and the reality of diving head first into a foreign country…alone…where they speak no English (oh my god). Here’s a peek at what I’m learning and what is changing.
Everything you do, eat, see feels like it’ll be the last time EVER
Snuggling up with my dog, eating deep dish pizza, ordering food in English at a restaurant, going to my favorite yoga studio. I mean, I know I’m not going to war or anything and I plan to eventually return home. But I can’t help but think to myself that pretty soon, I won’t be able to do all of these things for a LONG time. Will I miss them painfully? Or be having so much fun where I don’t even remember that their missing from my life?
You develop a ‘screw it’ type of attitude
This is probably my favorite. If I go out in public and happen to make a fool of myself? Screw it. I’m leaving the country in a few weeks and probably won’t ever see those people again. If I’m late for work? Screw it. I’m quitting anyways. It’s a really fun outlook to have, just not caring. But I don’t condone this behavior unless you are moving to the other side of the world. Show up to work on time.
Everyone wants to be your BEST friend
Let me be clear, I have NO problem catching up with old friends who’ve heard through the grapevine that I’m packing my bags and heading to Korea, of all places. But when people I NEVER talk to, who were mean to me in the past, or just want to know my business to gossip and judge, are coming up to me asking all about my plans, grow up.
No item, article of clothing, possession holds value anymore
My closet was FILLED with Michael Khors this, Dolce and Gabbana that. At one point, I adored and took pride in every last top and skirt and made it clear to people that I had expensive taste and strived to LOOK important. When I realized that wearing these clothes didn’t make me feel anything more than superficial and fake and what little meaning or value they added to my life, I sold them all. It no longer makes sense to me to spend money on THINGS (cars, toys, clothes, shoes, purses, etc.) when I could spend it on seeing the freaking world and growing rich with experiences.
The questions are ENDLESS
“Do you speak Korean?” “How much money will you be making?” “Why do you want to do that?” “When do you leave?” “When do you come back?” “Will you be living in a hut?” I understand that what I’m doing is abnormal and unheard of but that’s the point. I love the people that just straight say to me, “That’s awesome, good for you! I can’t wait to see pictures!”
You get sudden urges of giddiness
Sometimes I’ll be driving or walking somewhere, or even laying in my bed trying to fall asleep at night and I’ll just squeal, jump up and down and smile until my face hurts just thinking about what’s to come for me and how I did all of this BY myself, FOR myself. It’s such a liberating feeling and I fall in love with being alive. I’m doing something so unique and fulfilling that I can’t even handle it.
But you also, freak the f*** out
Sometimes I’ll get anxiety when I find myself doing something other than studying Korean or planning my travels or packing. “WTF are you doing? You’re going to be screwed if you don’t know Korean! Get your ass to the library!” I’ll say to myself. Or I hear other people talk about work promotions, furthering themselves in their careers, and here I am finding an excuse to prolong my fun and adventure when I should be doing the same. I freak out! “Why did you quit your job, you idiot?” “You had it made in Chicago!” I’ll say to myself. And what happens when I’m in Asia?
What if I don’t meet any friends that speak English? What if some Korean mother wants me fired because her kid can’t pronounce the letter “R”? What if I get abducted? Lost? Someone steals all my money? I feel like I can’t erase what I created and I’m so far into this that I no longer have a choice. I’m leaving. But I also cannot wait ;)
Places and people never look more beautiful than in those moments when you’re about to leave
Saying goodbye to Chicago was brutal. My lake house? Even worse. It’s funny how you become so accustomed to a place or a person that they become home and you don’t stop to look around or appreciate them until well, you’re leaving. The only thing you can do is pray that you remember the innocence in your nephew’s laugh or how gorgeous your city skyline looks at dusk and that you won’t forget these things while you’re gone, but cherish that you’ve experienced them and you keep on moving throughout your journey.