Here’s why progress– not perfection, is the secret to success, happiness and fulfillment.
On The Path Less Traveled
I remember when my wreckage finally floated to the surface, a ship that had capsized from the weight of dead-end job after dead-end job– and dead-end relationship after dead-end relationship.
I was sitting on the couch at my best friend’s apartment in November of last year, wondering if I was really about to make the biggest mistake of my entire life by moving to Dallas with my emotionally abusive boyfriend of seven months.
(The only person he ever hurt was himself.)
On the wreckage were numbers– dates, that I could see clearly. My relationship was expiring, and it was time to break up. My lease was expiring, and it was time to move out. My life in Austin, Texas was expiring, and it was time to move on.
Stubbornly– stupidly, I told myself everything would be fine.
A few days later, I was watching an interview with one of my favorite Korean actors when I finally saw my wreckage for what it was: damage I had done to myself by pretending everything would be fine.
Lee Joon Gi (Lee Jun Ki) moved to Seoul to pursue his dream– acting, but instead he started to live paycheck to paycheck, working part-time job after part-time job. It was when he started waiting tables that he settled down, finally able to afford a room in an attic that he shared with dozens and dozens of cockroaches.
Pretty-faced, polite and fast on his feet, he was one of the best waiters in town. Content with where he was and what he was doing, he even considered learning how to cook from the chefs at the restaurant where he worked– content with becoming a chef, too.
But one day he happened to look up at the TV playing a Korean drama or a Korean movie, and he saw the actors and the actresses on screen. Suddenly– finally, he realized that he wasn’t where he belonged.
He belonged on screen– on set, not in a restaurant. His dream was to become an actor– not a chef, and he felt betrayed; because, he hadn’t stayed true to himself.
He had come to a fork in the road, one that pointed to “Chef” on the left and “Actor” on the right.
Forks in the road are not just in fairy tales and folk tales– in stories, but in our lives, too. It’s true: One day you’ll come to a fork in the road, and choosing left or right will matter more than any other decision you’ve ever made in your entire life.
Robert Frost (1874–1963). Mountain Interval. 1920.
1. The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I came to a fork in the road, and I took the path less traveled– the one I knew was just for me. But, enough poetry; although, I can never get enough Lee Joon Gi!
In three weeks I turned my depression into determination. I made to-do lists and check-me-off lists. I even prayed for the first time in 10 years. I was finally honest with myself, my friends and even my family.
Suddenly, it was time to say goodbye, and I had everything I needed: A a plane ticket, a well-packed suitcase complete with a carry-on, a place to stay, a job-seeking visa and even a job interview. I was still depressed, but I was also desperate– determined.
When November finally ended and December began, I was on a plane to Seoul, South Korea; but, I don’t know how to put the past seven months into words. I didn’t just survive these past seven months– I thrived.
Working 9 to 7 (plus overtime) used to kill me, but now I’m learning how to find my work-life balance. Sometimes, I even know what I’m doing as I juggle project after project and try to get along with my eccentric boss and dwindling number of coworkers; because, they can’t seem to get along with her.
I’ve become fast friends with girls and women from all over the world– I was lucky enough to meet many of them through my blog, and now we’re navigating through the ups and downs of life (and love) in Seoul, together.
My best friend is making her second trip to see me in September– her first one was in December of last year, and I’ve kept in better touch with my friends and family than I ever have before– all while learning how to be independent.
Without the shelter of my family and friends, I’m learning how strong I am– both with and without them. However, I’m also learning just how sheltered I’ve been, especially when it comes to dating and relationships!
It’s still hard for me to believe that I’m here in Seoul, South Korea doing exactly what I want to do (most of the time), and even meeting exactly who I want to meet (most of the time). If the second half of 2016 is anything like the first, then I better hang on tight, because it’s going to be a wild ride.
When I first moved to Seoul I was lost, lonely.
I made a lot of mistakes, but I never gave up on my dreams or myself. My life isn’t perfect, but I’m making progress. And, that’s all that matters.
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