Over the last week, I have been living in a whirlwind of emotions. The election last Monday was just the jumping point for it, a job offer from Korea was given to someone who was already living in the country, which led me to look at other agencies for recruitment. My current agency had a new job for me by Thursday, and I had an interview Friday night. The weekend was spent starting to organize my room and then Monday I was offered the job. Needless to say, that was the easy part for my emotions.
It’s pretty easy for me to separate my emotions about leaving for Korea. I had a great time the last contract I had, although I did have a few hiccups along the way, one which included being sporadically violently ill from February to November when I returned home. Now that I have a contract, all the emotions are starting to flood up – will I be happy at the new school, will I get sick again, will I stay longer than my one year contract? Then of course, what has kept me in Canada for so long: how will my family be once I go, my friends, will we keep in touch? It’s this vicious back and forth on personal happiness and the happiness of those I love.
When I first announced I was going, my mom was supportive and said that if it made me happy, it was ok. My dad said that, while it wasn’t what they would prefer, if it made me happy then he’s happy. They both clearly aren’t, but for the sake of my life they put on a brave face. My dad keeps it up pretty well, although when I got my contract I think he had a little cry/emotional moment alone before saying “if you’re happy then I’m happy”.
My mom is a little sneakier. She acts fine, then slips in little digs, like in the middle of a hug “you can’t get hugs in Korea”, or when I get excited about going she just happens to mention how much I was frustrated with the kids there, and how I never remember the bad things. Which I honestly do – the kids were frustrating sometimes but nothing like here. When I bring that up, she gets all defensive and says that I don’t remember, she does (even though she wasn’t there). Then of course she brings up how Kim Jong Un is the new leader of North Korea and he has all these plans to bomb and kill everyone in South Korea, because now that his dad is dead, he is just starting to “spread his wings and prove himself”. I know it is just motherly concern but sometimes it’s a little much.
The thing that gets me the most, is how people are constantly commenting on my goals in life. As if it’s something that their opinion is allowed to dictate. According to my mom, I told her to give me until 25 and then I’d start having kids (which for the record I never did!). Her niece just announced that she is a grandmother, and my mom is now feeling like she is behind on the times since she has no grandchildren from me or my brother. My cousin is only 7 years younger than my mom, so she takes this very personal. However, my cousin never had any children of her own! When she married, I was around 10 I think. Which would have made her in her late 30’s to early 40’s. She married a man who already had two teenage children and they never had any of their own.
My uncle and aunts are forever asking me when I will get married and have children. I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately, and my goals in life have never really involved that aspect. Yes I would LOVE to get married, and have children and that part in my life, but I have also come to accept the fact that I am perfectly happy just as I am. In further reflection, I think that I might not even want biological children. I have a few health issues that have been passed on from both my parents, and I don’t know if I would want to keep passing those along down the line. I would adopt for sure!
I think the pressure on women to conform to this 1950’s ideal is a little ridiculous in 2015. My mother was the last of 6 children and was born in 1957. Her mother had raised all the girls to be “proper housewives”. MY grandmother was born in 1917 so this was ingrained in her her entire life. I understand that, and it takes a few generations to break that cycle. I hate that my life choices are so up for discussion and ridicule by those who are my own family. If I decide never to get married, then I hope that is something that my family will be ok with. If I decide not to have children ever, then more power to me. I am living my life the best way I know how, and I really hate that it is causing my mother embarrassment. I could easily go have random sex with someone and give her that grandchild she so desperately wants, but I want to do things on my terms, not hers.
I sometimes feel like a failure in life, based on the timeline others have set out for me. I’m 28, with no partner, no children, no home of my own. I am reminded at least once a month at how I “should be” living. Yet people forget that I am living the path that God has set out for me. There is nothing more to do than to continue on this path, and live life authentically. Who knows, maybe by the end of this year in Korea my life situation will have changed to check all those boxes that society has decided I need to have completed by now.