I’m currently watching a Korean drama, The Queen of Office, that delves deep into what it means to graduate and struggle to get a job, to get a job and struggle to keep it, to lose a job and struggle to remember the true meaning of work and life when you finally find a new one– even if it’s just at an office.
What I’ve learned:
You might end up with a job instead of a career– with coworkers who aren’t peers, but work in and of itself isn’t what makes us happy and fulfills us. Despite what we’ve been told, it’s the people we work with and the people we work for– be it for ourselves, for our family and friends, or for others, that make us happy and fulfill us.
As one of my best friends, who is also in law school, said:
“Change your perspective instead waiting for something that won’t come. Ultimately, your ‘dream job’ is something you create or work your way up to.”
If you don’t believe that my friend or a Korean drama could ever be so profound, then take it from the words of Mike Rowe from the hit show Dirty Jobs right HERE!
Or, you could just take it from me…
I’m finally graduating from law school in less than two weeks. It’s been a rough and tumble, three-year long ride with many bumps along the way, but I’ve enjoyed getting the chance to make my dream of helping others– no, of helping the undeserved and underrepresented get access to justice come true.
From studying abroad at the Sungkyunkwan School of Law in South Korea to completing a human rights internship in South Korea to completing a legal internship at my school, The University of Texas at Austin, where I helped undergraduate and graduate students instead of North Korean refugees– I’ve found out that the reason I set out on this path is also the reason why I have stayed on it.
Like many others, I had a dream. Mine was simple: To help others. I knew that being a lawyer would help make my dream come true, but there was a difference between the dream that I wanted and the dream that I needed– between the lawyer that I wanted to be and the lawyer that I needed to be.
Yes, being a public service lawyer working in the nonprofit sector is my dream, but it was a dream that I didn’t know I had until I started and almost finished a ride that left me banged up and bruised, severely stressed and often depressed.
It was my family, friends, and a few professors who kept me from jumping out of a fast moving vehicle. They told me to keep my eyes on the road, to look ahead. They helped me remember my dream and to envision a future in which my dream was a reality– if I could just get there, with them.
Along the way I learned more life lessons than I have in my entire life– but of course, not all of them. Most importantly, I learned that dreams, like many things, are often what we want but not what we need.
No, it wasn’t and won’t be easy, but I’m slowly coming to terms with my dream as it meets reality. And, if you don’t want your dream to die, then you have to give it the shape, the structure, and the strength for it to fit into the world. Because, it’s easy to say that you want to be something– that you want to do something, but the world and the people in it don’t care unless you’re capable of being something, of doing something.
In the end, which is really only the beginning, I learned how to articulate my dream, and I just have, but only after it had already come true…
I’m about to accept a job offer– not for my dream job, but for the job that will help me continue to make my dream of helping others come true.
We all have dreams, but until we’re ready to be who we need to be and not who we want to be– until we’re ready to do what we need to do and not what we want to do, then our dreams will stay dreams.
Finally, for my readers who dream of living and working in South Korea…
Working in South Korea is very different from working in North America. In fact, even working with South Koreans– or any other culture of people, in North America is different from working with other Americans.
(Everything is always at the last minute, and once everything is said and done– wait, it never is, then you can finally relax and go out together where you’re definitely bound to eat, and drink… and drink… and drink… and sing…!)
When you can understand South Koreans’ occasional prejudice against and often total misunderstanding of foreigners, their eternal sense of hierarchy and never ending emphasis on social status– be it rich or poor, oppa or dongsaeng, sunbae or hoobae, and their love for life, liquor, and noraebang, then you might be ready to live and work in South Korea.
If you have no idea what I mean, then stay tuned for the long awaited and perhaps forgotten third part of The “Preparing for Life in Korea” Series, Working in Korea. Be sure to click the link to check out parts one and two along with a special post about when I was scouted by OnStyle Korea!
P.S.: Feeding Your KDrama Addiction will be back soon, maybe by tonight if not by tomorrow! I’m sure you’re hungry, but I’ve been too busy feeding my own KDrama addiction…