Hello those of you who still care to follow. When I once wrote in this blog while I was in Korea… it helped me connect my experiences to everyone at home and across the world. I remember now what a comfort it was to use this blog as a bridge between my two identities, the Nicole that grew in Korea, and the Nicole left behind in California with waiting family members and pending friendships.
Now here I am again, and I’m slowly starting to truly feel what happens to the self when a part of you is put on pause. Far away on the Asian continent for one year I experienced so much… Am I still the same Nicole? More or less I’m guessing. Depends on how you look at it. I feel stronger spiritually but at times I still feel out of place in normal everyday situations. Sometimes I fail to express how I’m feeling verbally to my friends. Mostly I just feel different… but time and time again I’m reminded of who I once was and how I thought about life before I went away. I’m still making sense of how I feel about my life now and how I want to fit back in.
Yes, I’ll admit, much of my time in Korea was carefree play time in an expat playground. But there were also so many powerful moments. Moments connecting with my students despite language barriers, moments realizing new cultural universals, moments feeling new emotions in new places. There were moments where my mind expanded, heart opened up, and I learned to let go of so many things I’d held onto for so long.
Expectations. Frustrations. Fears. My energy levels shifted and it felt like for the first time I gave myself the space to redefine myself. It was such an empowering feeling.
But now, I feel like I’m back at square one. This troubling economy and the lack of teaching positions in California is not very encouraging. However, I still have to turn off the pause mode and push play. I wish I could just push the fast forward button to my next adventure. But instead, I feel stagnant. To be honest, I’m anxious. The process is humbling, although I must say I do embrace it. Slowly I’m calculating the next phase of my life. And luckily, I’m blessed to have friends and family who love and support me through my transition.
I think the difficult part of this transition is remembering while looking forward. I want to remember all the lessons I gained during my journeys and take it with me, and to always hold onto that feeling of pride and relief that I felt when I boarded that plane homeward bound to American soil. That I did it. And that I will do more.
The reality is, I’m not really stagnant. I know it’s all my self perceived reality. So what am I doing these days? Despite this feeling that I’m not doing anything, I’m keeping pretty busy. I occasionally substitute teach. I regularly tutor a high school Korean student with his English language skills. I work part time as a recruiter, helping get other quality teachers placed with quality schools out there to Korea. But I do want more, and I’m working toward the next career opportunity here in California to continue my development as an educator. I’m crossing my fingers and looking forward with each job application I turn in.
And my backup plan, going back to Asia is ALWAYS an option. Sometimes, I still hear it calling my name :)