Everything is…happiness

Four months and I’m finally falling in love with Korea.

When I first got here, I anxiously counted down the days thinking “Everyday I’m here just means I’m one day closer to going home.” I was like a kid with my calendar full of red Xs counting down to summer vacation.

But then I started thinking about how maybe I should count up the days. Every day I’m here is just one more day of this Korean experience. The more days I spend here the better the experience will get. Perhaps changing my thinking could make the experience more positive. I tried and tried to stop counting down. But I can’t help but think, “Four months down, eight months to go.”

These past months I’ve struggled with knowing whether or not I made the best decision for my life in coming to Korea. It probably doesn’t help that I spend so much time listening to science-y podcasts and blogs that I keep going “OMG! Happiness might just be a matter of what you tell yourself!? No wonder so many people are miserable.” (Also your brain is super-cool.)

It’s not as though I haven’t enjoyed my time here. I have. I’ve met some amazing people and had incredible experiences. I can’t wait to discover more of what Korea has to offer me in the next eight months.

But there’s something in me that’s perpetually worried about the future. What will happen next? What’s going to be the next chapter when those eight months are up? I’m terrible at doing that thing–“living in the moment.” Who does that besides hippies anyway?

I can’t quite bring myself to believe this is my life either. There are moments practically every day where I still catch myself thinking “Holy fuck I’m in Korea!”

Usually when I see a man urinating in a field.

I’m still a little surprised by some of the other everyday things here. Children playing until midnight or later. Strangers going out of their way to help me. Men drunkenly wandering down the streets at 2 p.m. (Like I’m going to leave my house before noon to catch the late night crowd. Psh!).

Yes, I miss my friends and family, but technology is awesome and keeps us close. In fact, I’ve gotten closer to one brother since I’ve been in Chungju than ever before in our relationship.

Each con and pro pair is similarly threaded through with nuances that make me suspect in some ways the decision to come to Korea didn’t really matter. I might not be here, but would I be happier if I were somewhere else?

Since happiness might just be a matter of what I tell myself. I’m going to tell myself this is the best decision I could’ve made at the time and if I knew then what I knew now I wouldn’t change my mind.

I needed this. I needed to learn to be alone and be okay. I needed to know I could go somewhere and take care of myself.

At least that’s what I tell myself.


About kristamaesmith

I'm a writer living with my boyfriend in Salt Lake City, Utah where I cheer for the Jazz, walk my dog, and spend too much money in local restaurants. I work in marketing for higher education and blog about food, travel, television, and whatever shiny moment catches my fancy.
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2 Responses to Everything is…happiness

  1. Uncle Al says:

    Yeah, sometimes I get tired of San Diego where the city’s going broke. Then I have to remind myself that it’s just a short drive to the beach or beautiful Balboa Park. So life sucks in that way: you have to find happiness where you are.

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