New life, new land, new me... I have been in South Korea for a total of four weeks now and already I’m noticing some changes in my personality. No longer am I putting on my mask to shield people from my true emotions, No longer am I letting others dictate how I act. Finally, after more than 10 years, I am finally being true to myself and no longer acting fake. I forgot how nice it felt to just be your true self without being judged. So many people say how America is the home of the free, the place where you can truly be yourself; yet, this widespread belief is not the truth. If you act too fruity you are considered gay, regardless if you are or not. If you dislike one African American you become a racist, regardless if there is substantial reason behind your dislike. No one lets you be you, no one lets anyone truly feel or think without being judged for their actions. Is it sad that the one place you feel the safest is in a different country? Where you fit in the best is in that different country where they do not judge as harshly and everyone is less brash? Here you can leave your wallet on a bus and still expect to get it back even after a month. Here people welcome you with open arms for who you are instead of who they think you have to be. I will admit when I first came where I was stereotyped by everyone I met, they thought I would be cursing up a storm, acting like a person from our reality shows. This was because everyone before me acted like the stereotype… the typical American. However once getting to know me they opened up to me with open arms, encouraging me to act like my true self because they liked me better that way.
However I haven’t just changed in regards to opening myself up but I have started to mature. To discover that there is so much out here then we think, and so much different than described in the movies or even news. People always portray South Korea as an undeveloped country that has to deal with the tragedy of being North Koreas neighbors. Americans are even taught to believe that Koreans need Americans help to become stronger, to even stand on their own two feet. Yet, being here for just a short time I have come to relies that everything we were told is bullshit. Koreans have two major world goods, Hyundai and Samsung, They now deal with the North Koreans in a mature way and have discovered the best way to deal with their neighbors is to not blow everything they do out of proportion. Unlike how the Americans make the situation seem the two Koreas are dealing with each other, I’m not saying that nothing is there but that the situation is better than it seems. I have also matured when it comes to how I look at drinking or relationships.
When I go out to drink now I no longer drink to get wasted but to have a bit and enjoy the company with me. I think it also has to do with finally being legal when I go out drinking, it’s no longer an act of rebellion but an act of age or status. Saying that I am old enough to know my limit and not go past it. That I am no longer the type who will be that drunk girl who makes a fool out of herself. Instead I am the one who stays below tipsy and has long conversations with the people next to me. And guess what? I actually am able to remember that conversation and who they are, this has also allowed me to make more friends throughout the city.
My feelings on whether a relationship is truly real has changed as well. I have had my number of relationships but they always end up the same, it just does not feel right and I break up with them because I want them to find a girl who fits with them better. I tell everyone that I don’t believe in love, that it does not exist. But secretly I am waiting for that one guy who will prove me wrong, who will make me want to spend every single day with him. The one guy who shows me that I can be in love without it stopping my life. Every time I meet a guy he either want to just have sex with you or marry you with the intent that you get a boring job close to home so that you can take care of the kids while he gets to live the perfect life. If I ever fall in love I only wish for one thing, that he encourages me to pursue my dreams; that I can go to masters school in Russia, then find a job that lets me travel and still intend to marry me. Who won’t let my dreams die? Who I get along with and can talk to for hours or even sit there saying nothing and still feel like we said everything. I am a hopeless romantic but will never show this side of me to anyone with fear my heart will get broken. Yet while in Korea I have learned its ok to show that side sometimes. A certain man has allowed me to show this side, even though I try an try to shove the feeling deep down in my gut it comes spilling out when I least expect it. Whether it’s when I see his jacket on someone else, get excited, then sad when I realize it’s not him. Or he sends me a simple message and I get that gitty feeling and half crocked smile that maybe he likes me to. Yet just as sudden I am reminded that someone got to him before me, that he has a girlfriend that he likes, maybe even loves. Then it’s back to shoving my feelings deep down. I thinks it’s Karma for dumping all of those guys, that it’s the universes cruel way of saying, “you rejected all of these guys who fell hard for you so now you have to feel the pain with a man who will never have feelings for you.” Then I laugh at myself because deep down I know it’s true, that I don’t deserve this guy because he is happy and has found someone and that I need to let him be with a girl who will actually make him happy. All I’m good at is dumping guys. But through all of this I have learned it’s ok to show emotion once in a while, its ok to fall for a man, he won’t always break your heart. I am thankful to this guy, though he does not know it, for helping me realize this.