2016 – The year we officially limp past 25 into “Holy shit I my age rounds up to 30 and I still don’t have my shit together” territory. And it only gets worse from here.
When New Year’s comes around, most folks gather around the TV with loved ones to watch the perennial gibber jabber of celebrities on Ball-Drop Watch, or, if they’re young and eager to party, getting balls-to-the-wall drunk and French kissing strangers under the lusty spray of fireworks.
Sure, I was lying in front of the TV, hypnotized by the pulsing LED New Year’s ball, but I just…wasn’t feeling it. All those beaming people gleefully shouting down from 10 and cheering in a maelstrom of confetti; it was hard not to feel jealous of such unadulterated joy. Then Auld Lang Syne blared nostalgically through the night, strangers hugged strangers with light in their eyes, and Facebook flooded with sentimental New Year’s blurbs.
“Happy New Years to Mom and Dad, and everyone else…So many good things happened, and so many things to come…”
Blah blah blah.
Here’s what 2015 meant to me:
- Both my cats died.
- I left behind expat life.
- My Brain Twin moved to another continent.
- My boyfriend lives on the other side of the planet.
- I have no job skills and no one wants me.
- I forgot my unopened Vegemite in Korea and now I’ll never get it back because the new teacher moved in.
To sum it all up: I’m really fucking lonely. Oh, and completely depressed.
The last time I posted, I hadn’t left Korea yet, and was worried about “replanting carrots.” Well, I’ve been home 2.5 months now, and it feels less like replanting a carrot and more like the carrot was plucked, skinned, cooked, chewed, subjected to stomach acid, shat out into a firm turd, and then THAT was being replanted. Trying to carrot, but feeling fundamentally changed.
There were some things that were nice, the first month home. I immediately set to work reorganizing my bookshelves, rediscovering all of my old favourites, coursebooks, and collectibles. All the half-finished novels I had put down momentarily, only to pack up and fly off to Korea, leaving them on my nightstand.
Coming back to my room was like a scene from a murder mystery, where the parents have kept every figurine and bedsheet dimple exactly as Little Jenny left it before her disappearance…only it had been 10 years, and hope had given way to more present concerns, like where to store these boxes of receipts and unopened birthday presents.
But dusting it all off, returning a grown woman (“grown woman”) was just the motivation I needed. It was like drinking from the spring of youth. Look at all these cool things I used to love! All the cool thoughts and ideas I used to have! I rearranged my furniture, opened the blinds, and redecorated each wall with a carefully curated collection of memorabilia from around the world.
Now I had it all here in front of me. The past and the present, finally combining together, instead of floating in miserably obscure corners of my mind. The agony I’d had – “I’ve lost who I was. I’ve lost art. I can never be creative again” – had disappeared. And I read a book!! From front to fucking back!
Wowee, my life was awesome on totally on track again. I saw so many friends, including Sam, who I hadn’t seen in 5 years! I was filled with so much glee! So many possibilities!
Then…I couldn’t install a closet door.
It’s stupid, really, to be derailed by such a small thing.
I bought a set of closet doors, and they wouldn’t fit. Difference of 1/2″. An error in the construction of the house that made it literally, physically impossible to do. And it totally ruined me.
I had so many plans for these doors. They’re full mirrors, so I would clear my room and make a tiny studio to practice hooping at home. I’d watch the weight melt off in my newly devoted quest to fitness. I’d organize my closet like a real adult and do my makeup there for job interviews and my room would be perfect like a perfect visualization of my newfound myself and when I came back again from my next very grand adventure in the exotic wild East this room would be beautiful and organized and PERFECT IN EVERY WAY JUST LIKE I AM RIGHT NOW, RIGHT?
RIGHT?!?!??! I screamed internally, trying to jam these doors into a physical space that just. didn’t. fit. And never will.
Maybe it wouldn’t have gotten to me so much if I hadn’t believed that my new bedroom was some metaphorical embodiment of my fresh, amazing self. A living, breathing, testament to my personhood. Now I was left with an unalterable failure that ripped all my progress to shreds.
Then after that were pre-holiday preparations, the holidays themselves (oh joy), then depressing New Years and then…now.
Where am I now?
Well, my room is still a disaster. I have crushing self-doubt about being an Editor, or Writer, or whatever. I don’t want to give up travel, but finding a job that isn’t ESL-related has been soul-crushingly impossible, or doesn’t pay a livable wage. I can’t take it anymore to stay. I’m terrified to leave. When I go I’ll have no plan in place and that scares the shit out of me. Nothing I was once interested in means anything anymore. The things I could continue are a pain to restart. I’m hooping – gotta leave the hoops behind. Fabric printing – goodbye sewing machine. Reading – goodbye library. What was the point in making the perfect room if I’m leaving it all behind anyway? But would I really want to live with my parents more than I am already? What was the point in leaving Korea if I’m just going to go back? Where will I go now? Who would want me, what use am I, how am I going to amount to anything and everything I do is irrelevant and useless and pointless.
I’m leaving in a month and I don’t have any of this shit together.
I hate everything. I don’t want to do anything. I feel pressured by all the things I have to do that are hanging over my head. I feel pressured to “get a real job” and “start a real life” and “make at least 50,000 a year in order to live comfortably” and all that bullshit. I keep hearing:
All that travel stuff is fun, you got your personal development out of it, and now it’s time to put it away and start your REAL career. You’re only in your twenties for 10 years. You’re 25 now. After that it’s too late to start. No one will want to hire someone with no experience and no skills. You need to get qualified and you need to do it now. Stop wasting your time. You will get TRAPPED in a low-wage job, and then you’ll really be struggling. You want to live like that? Paycheck to paycheck?
I’m trying to look for Editor positions in the West – REALLY trying to force this bile down my clenching throat – and finding that I’m already vastly under-qualified for even entry-level jobs…that’s only 2 years out of the job market. If I go back to teaching, how will I fare 3, 4, 5 years out of the loop? I’ll fucking fail. I’ll amount to nothing. But if I stay I will surely die of internal agony.
Maybe I’ll go back to living in Korea. I left because I felt I’d abandoned my “career” in the “real world”…maybe I was happier without it. This is the rat race I ran from in the first place, after all.
But…going back to old ways…