If you know me personally you know that I have been struggling for the last couple months with the decision about whether or not to stay in Korea. Something that I haven't shared with most people is the renewed struggle to best my personal demons and lead the ever elusive "happy" life. Moving to Korea has given me a lot of time to think and reflect, which is good in that I finally have the time to consider myself fully and honestly, but considering yourself honestly can be a blessing and a curse. I don't think I've met a single person who likes everything they see every single time they hold up that mirror and ask the question: Who am I, really?
A few weeks ago, I had an interesting and truly though-provoking conversation with my cousin. She recounted a recent experience, which she described as something akin to reaching Nirvana. I was totally enthralled. This conversation was exactly what I needed to hear at exactly the right time.
We talked about how we as humans are the architects of our own personalities: we build our concept of self in reaction to life events. Everyone has those defining moments - the ones that stay with you as a seemingly indelible imprint on your psyche. From these mental Polaroids we derive, and then construct who we think we are - We tell ourselves stories about who we are to make sense of the moments and to make sense of the madness that is life. For years, my story has been that of the victim - this person did that to me, and now I am this way. This type of storytelling is valid and logical, in that when the words come out of my mouth they are in the correct order and the narrative is comprehensible. However, validity is not truth, and therein lies the real problem.
The truth about these stories? They are bullshit. Made up. Fiction. Not real.
I will say it again, just to be sure you got my point.
I made those stories up.
(And you probably did too.)
The thing is, everyone is in the same boat. We exist on this earth for an infinitesimal amount of time, our lives our smaller than the smallest drop in the cosmic bucket, and then we are gone. Everyone is running around lost and confused - scared about what might be around the corner and preoccupied with what happened in moments that have passed. What this means is that the things people do aren't personal. People don't mistreat you because there is something wrong with you: they do it because they are confused, angry, and afraid.
For too long, I allowed myself to tell the story of my life as one in which the actions of my friends, family, and boyfriends made me the way I am. According to my narrative, their actions made me constantly suspicious, cynical about romantic relationships, and emotionally guarded to the point that I either feel nothing at all, or everything at once.
This is me calling bullshit.
I am the way I am because of me, and people's actions are a reflection of one thing only: themselves. As that applies to them, it also applies to me and to you. I created the walls that surround me, because I told myself my life would easier and less painful if I did. This is not something that I am proud of, but it did happen. This is me taking responsibility for my actions.
Am I saying that one conversation has permanently fixed every single personal hang-up? No, of course not. However, I am saying that it changed my perspective significantly, and in the few weeks since then I have felt lighter, happier, and more ready to face an uncertain future. It snapped me out of the emotional bog I had been slogging through for the past couple months. Again, it was exactly what I needed to hear at exactly the right time.
Talking about myself in this way makes me nervous - it's personal, and I'm not usually one to put myself 'out there' (wherever that is). But, if what I'm saying here prompts even one person to consider their life differently, and maybe see it in a better and brighter light, then I will call this a success.
So, call your own bullshit. Do tell stories, but make sure to tell the right ones. Tell the stories where your life is your own, where you don't take the actions of others personally, where you choose a narrative of happiness over a narrative of sadness, self-doubt, and shame. Do it because life is short and it's only real meaning is the one you give it - you can either be a sad cosmic droplet or a happy one - but no matter what you choose the end result is the same. More practically, and perhaps more importantly... Do it because you can
Enjoy the beautiful view!