Posts Tagged With: living abroad

Habits: An Unfortunate Truth

The moment I wrote that 501st word on the final day of my first-ever writing challenge, a wave of excitement flushed through me. By the time I had finished my post and published it, I was on cloud nine.

Had I really done it? Was it really possible that I had written 15,000+ words over the past month? I didn’t know how I’d done it, but I was amazed. As the numbers sunk in, I thought Wow. This is something I can really be proud of. 

Just a month earlier, I had repeatedly sat in my apartment, wondering why I had wasted so much time not writing. I had done everything but write. I had been living in Korea (for the second time) for over nine months at that point, and had barely written anything at all in that time – and not for lack of subject matter. There were a ton of things I could have written about – my travels, day trips around Korea, my job teaching English, or what my daily life in Busan is like as an expat, to name a few.

But I didn’t. I just let day after day slip away, without a trace. No words or stories to remember them by. No evidence that they even occurred. There I was, in a great position to write some original and unique content, wasting this incredible opportunity I had. The voice in the back of my head (everyone has one, right!?) certainly didn’t approve. As each day passed, I could hear it growing more and more agitated with my general lack of motivation and productivity. You’re not always going to be living abroad, with unlimited experiences to write about, it would tell me. Stop wasting this adventure and get cracking!

Thankfully, my routine of avoiding that voice eventually stopped – with the start of the writing challenge.

But somehow, a week has already passed since I successfully completed it. So now, it’s truth time.

Have I written since then?

The short/truthful answer: hardly.

The answer I’m tempted to give: hardly, but…it’s because ___________ (insert every excuse I can think of here).

Sure, being busy or tired or lazy are all reasons why I couldn’t write every day this week, but are they good ones?

No.

So far, I’ve only written two days this week, and I can tell you that after writing for 31 days straight, it feels weird. It feels like I’m shirking a responsibility; like I’m getting away with something I shouldn’t be.

This week hasn’t been completely useless, though – it’s taught me a little about habits. In order for something to truly become a habit, there has to be doing involved. There needs to be some sort of action. Simply thinking about doing something doesn’t cut it. Since finishing the writing challenge, I still think about writing every day. When I wake up every morning, the intention to write is always there, but the follow-through, sometimes, is not. And that’s the most important part.

People say all it takes to build a habit is to do something repeatedly for a certain number of days. Sounds pretty reasonable, right? Maybe even easy. But I think there’s a lot more to it than that. Habits are not just going to sustain themselves, because you dedicated X number of days to them initially. They’re not going to reward you for your good behaviour – unless you put the work in to deserve the reward.

Just because I built up a writing habit during the last month doesn’t mean that the work is going to do itself from now on.

Without effort and dedication, habits can disappear just as quickly as they appeared in the first place.

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Categories: My 500 Words, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Korean Christmas, Round Two

It’s the Sunday afternoon before Christmas.

In my head, I’m curled up in a blanket by the fire, sipping hot chocolate while I watch a marathon of Christmas movies with my family. It’s gently snowing outside, and the Christmas tree lights are sparkling, dancing across my living room.

In reality, I’m sitting in a coffee shop, sipping on a beautifully-designed latte, while Avril Lavigne plays in the background. There are so many people out and about today that it’s obvious Christmas is just around the corner. It’s December 21st. There are decorated Christmas trees in every coffee shop and in many of the stores that line the busy streets. English Christmas music blasts from those same stores, Mariah Carey declaring to the world that all she wants for Christmas is YOU!!

This is hands-down one of my favourite Christmas songs ever. When it comes on the radio when I’m driving home from an afternoon of Christmas shopping back in Canada, I can’t help but screech out with excitement and start singing and dancing just like Mariah Carey herself. Sometimes, I get so into it that I almost forget that I am, in fact, not Mariah Carey. When the song ends, and I’m forced to come back to reality, this fact dawns on me. My moment of glory is always short-lived, but no less enjoyable.

Today, though, hearing it is only another reminder that I’m not home. I’m here, in Korea, thousands of miles from home. Across the world, in fact. It would be hard to get much further away at this point.

This is one of the things I dislike most about living abroad. Outside of Canada, I’ve only ever lived for an extended period of time in Korea, but this will be the second Christmas season I’ve spent away from home. I have a feeling that it probably wouldn’t really matter where I was, though, because wherever it was, it just wouldn’t be home.

This sounds silly in many ways. I actually feel guilty saying it out loud sometimes. Maybe that’s why I’m sitting here writing it instead. It’s hard to have this conversation with people who don’t feel the same way about this holiday. Those kind of conversations tend to go something like this:

Me: “I really miss my family. I wish I was going home for Christmas.” Waaaaaaaaaaa.

Them: “Meh. Christmas is just a day anyway. It’s overrated.”

Or sometimes, like this:

Them: “Sorry………..” (with looks of sympathy).

Or, better yet:

Me: “I’m so sad I’ll be missing Christmas this year. I really wish I could be home to see everyone.”

Them: “Are you serious? You get to travel! You’re so lucky! What are you whining about!?”

I have to admit that these people have a good point. I agree that I am extremely lucky to be able to live abroad, to travel, and to gain new experiences. I know how fortunate I am to be here. There’s no question about whether or not I’m grateful for this opportunity.

In my experience, however, knowing this doesn’t seem to make the holidays away from home any easier. Having lived away from home for two years now, I’ve realized two things about myself; that I’m very much a family-oriented person, and that Christmas is an important time of year for me. I can tell myself a hundred times (and have!) to make the best of it, but it never seems to be that easy.

Of course, Christmas, and all the hype that goes along with it, isn’t for everyone. For some, Christmas means little more than a day off work. (Great! Finally a day to relax!) For me though, it means so much more.

I can listen to Mariah Carey’s Christmas CD on repeat (and if I’m being honest, I probably will!) but it won’t change the fact that the most important part of Christmas, for me, is still missing.

Categories: My 500 Words, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Hardest Things About Living Abroad

The Hardest Things About Living Abroad

With adventure, comes sacrifice.

Blog #9 of my series for Verge is all about balance, and the realities of a life overseas.

Categories: South Korea, Travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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