what makes me feel adult(ish)

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Definitely an adult. Look at me ordering coffee all cool like.

Things I do that make me think I’m an adult;

  • Wear slippers
  • Drink black coffee
  • Buy my own toilet paper
  • Make small talk with cashiers
  • Read more non-fiction than fiction
  • Buy wine, dark chocolate, and kale
  • Buy art print posters instead of nerd posters
  • Have a bunch of friends my age getting engaged/married/pregnant
  • Think ramen is not a decent meal

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Definitely not an adult. Look at me being the one to make the kids keep playing tag.

Things I do that make me sure I’m not an adult;

  • Name my car (Sakamoto-san)
  • Have a giant pink pony plushie friend
  • Hate making phone calls/opening my door
  • Have nerd posters alongside my art posters
  • Never wear clothes at home (I seriously dig pajamas, yo)
  • Not know how to cook steak or fish
  • Think ramen is a decent meal

But all those rules are silly anyway. All that, “adults don’t (insert thing here).” Well, maybe adults don’t. Adults don’t hold grudges. But people do. And people are all ages. So maybe being an adult is like wisdom; it’s not an age, it’s an achievement. Or maybe I just say that to make myself feel adult. Is kidding yourself adultish?

otter.

NB – It’s finals week. Thank goodness I get these things written ahead of time. Booooofinalsssssssss.

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a life of waiting

I recently read a book called ‘The In-Between’ by Jeff Goins. It’s an anecdotal book for the most part, full of memories and small stories that illustrate his major point; that we spend most of our time waiting. Seriously. In fact as well as in our heads. We spend more time than we think in lines, on hold, in our cars traveling; always waiting for something. We also spend an inordinate amount of time waiting in our heads and hearts – waiting for the next thing to happen to us. For graduation, marriage, kids, retirement, death…and everything in between. We spend so much time waiting for the next day or next whatever that we rarely find time to live in the moment. Sure, living in the moment has some bad connotations, like being flighty and irresponsible and never having a plan for the future, but most of us aren’t like that. We may occasionally let ourselves go in the moment when we’re having fun with friends or doing something we love, but those moments are like bright stars in the dark sky – small and minor compared to the vastness of life.

In Goins’ book, he talks about learning to appreciate the small things. Trite advice, you think. Perhaps. But true nevertheless. Look back at the past week or so and think about when you were happiest. Was it a grand moment full of importance and splendor? Or was it a small thing that simply made you very happy? If I do this, I think of being with some new friends. I’ve been anxious to make friends at school, and I’m finally starting to. At the club meeting, Tuesday evening in a bus on the way to a lab – I was merely talking to people, but I was supremely happy. Oh, and discovering that my library is huge and has an extensive selection of books in Korean, Chinese, and Japanese…

All these are small things, but it’s these that I remember. Passing my exams is great, but it’s more relief that I feel, not joy.

I’ve spent my entire life in the purgatory of waiting. I felt like my life wouldn’t begin until college, and now that I’m in college, I’m feeling like it won’t start until I get married or move to Korea, whichever comes first. But it’s not true. Life is not a goal, it’s a state of being. I am alive now. I’m living, no matter what I’m doing. Waiting to live doesn’t even make sense. Neither does regretting something. I’ve regretted a few things. I always feel guilty that I’m not already done with school, that I’m not already married, that I haven’t already gotten an amazing job or traveled more. But looking back, every single experience I’ve had has made me grow in a way that wouldn’t have happened in any other circumstance. I’ve needed all those waiting bits and periods in order to become what I am now, and all the waiting bits ahead will be necessary to get me further. I’m not the person I want to be, so I need a lot more waiting. I now appreciate the waiting, as time to reflect and grow. For, as Goins says, it’s frequently in those waiting moments that we do grow. We think, we reason, we imagine and learn within ourselves, often in a split-second.

I think we tend to hate the waiting and feel it’s useless because we often escape into books or movies, worlds in which no one ever waits for long and things happen consecutively. Action is frequent, speech is parsed down and simplified to exclude the nonessentials. We want life to happen like that, but it won’t. Imagine a book that actually followed, moment by moment, real life. It would be unutterably dull.

So we need to stop and consciously observe the waiting time, and learn to grow in it. Reflect more, learn more, think more, appreciate more, and be grateful for the small things. We all live in-between the big things, and that’s where most of life happens.

otter.

apartment living

I realized recently that I haven’t talked about apartment life at all. Sheesh. It’s like it’s not even a big deal (it’s not). Well I won’t go into too much detail (I will). I moved in with my brother about three weeks ago, and have been slowly settling in.

Now, adjusting has been hard. I just about feel at home now, but it was really weird the first few days especially. Originally, I didn’t like living so close to other people. I mean, people could be there when I walk out my front door. People could be at my mailbox. People could be near my car. People is everywhere!!! My deep-seated introversion meant this kept me inside as much as possible. Until school started, I don’t think I went out unless it was absolutely imperative.

Well, three weeks later and I’ve gotten over that. I even kind of enjoy it now. Funny, isn’t it? How something that was so alien and unsettling could become something you look forward to? I really do. I like waving to my neighbors, and I like walking to my mailbox and seeing the kids playing basketball. I even like seeing people walk under my window as I type this. I feel sort of urban, and this could be a taste of what life in Seoul might be like if I ever move there.

Otherwise, I super heart my locale!!! There’s literally EVERYTHING around us. Every fast food, every chain of grocery store, a comic book store like just around the corner, the library and post office also around the corner, a gajillion churches, and town festivals! I love living in a town that, while large, has banners stretching across main street announcing town events. How quaint is that? But seriously, I can drive ten minutes and get anything I need. Huzzah town living!

On another, related note, I am thoroughly enjoying living on my own. Well, with a brother, granted, but I’m in charge of food and stuff. I like it. Sure, it’s hard with school to cook as often as I should, and we still get junk food on occasion and pig out – but all in all, I’m doing better than I thought I would (I made a roast chicken and squash and kale side – YUM). I hate grocery shopping, but that’s good cause it means I won’t spend time getting food not on my list. I am cooking much more than I ever have, and pretty healthily too.

Of course, I’m still far short of where I want to be. I have a great evening routine that I stick to, and my morning routine is consistent if not quite what I had envisioned. I just can’t seem to eat a big breakfast or exercise. That’s the worst – the exercise. I don’t have that much time in the mornings, and after school I’m tired out and need to cook…*sigh

But, that will come. I haven’t even lived here a month. Perspective, girl, perspective. You’ll get there. *nods head to mirror looking determined* Anyone have any tips for making yourself exercise? I don’t like going anywhere to work out, but I’m wondering if that’s what it would take to get me doing it. Maybe take a class? Taekwondo…yoga…windsurfing…

otter.

Also, I’ll be taking picture soon, so you can see what my awesome *cough* pad looks like, man!

am I an adult yet?

I just – finally – moved into the new apartment. It’s been weird and awesome and weird. I know it will be a while before this feels like home, but right now I’m wondering if it ever will. And all this moving out and junk has brought up the question; am I an adult now?

This question has been plaguing me for years. Well, a few years. I’m early twenties. I can drink, smoke, join the army, whatever. I can get a house, get married, hold a job, move to Antarctica, join a rally, write a book, become a nun, or learn kung fu. I can do anything. So, does that make me an adult? Is it an age thing? A character thing? A status thing? An accomplishment thing?

Is it having a mortgage on a nice house? Being married with kids? Having a nine-to-five? Having health insurance and a 401k? Having a degree? Not living with your parents?

What makes an adult, an adult? From when I was 18 until about now, I’ve had different feelings. When I worked retail and was an assistant manager, I felt like an adult in my job. I was in charge most of the time, with people younger than me taking my orders. But I still felt like a kid at school, where all my professors were older and wiser, and at home, where my parents were still in charge and knew a heck of a lot more about things like finances and life-living than I did.

When I moved to Taiwan, I was on my own and independent. I definitely felt like an adult when I compared myself to my team-mates, also adults, and our students. My position was clear. But not so much when it came to my co-workers, the Taiwanese teachers. Most of them were older than me, and since we were noob foreigners living in their country, they had the upper-hand the majority of the time, and had to help us with rudimentary things like banking and transportation. The status was less clear in that respect.

Maybe it all depends on relationship. I will never feel older and wiser than my parents, because I never will be; and I look at other people my age and some things I do and still feel a bit fledgling. Is there an objective moment when someone becomes an adult, and if so, have I reached it? I just moved out, I’ll be going to school, making my own decisions – in my opinion, I should be an adult. Does the world think so?

otter.

my next adventure…

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For those few friends who will get this joke – “I don’t want to leave Asia. I just cry the whole time.” Yeah, cry an ocean of tears. Inside.

One of my readers recently asked me what my next adventure will be. Well, friends, and not friends, and the general public…it’s college. I say it with mixed feelings. Let me break it down for you.

I do not believe that it is at all necessary to get a degree in order to have a great life. So many people succeed beyond their wildest dreams without one that it’s simply foolish to link success to education (at least of the public variety). HOWEVER…there are some jobs that can’t be had without a degree. A lot of companies require it, or at least, mad experience equivalent to it, which is hard to get in some cases.

For me then, why a degree? Well, because I want to live in Korea. A degree is not necessary for that, you say. True enough. But in order to make a living, I’d need to be able to support myself fully without a job in the country (part time places don’t hire non-Koreans), so I’d need an independent income from a free-lance or small business, and that’s not going to happen in a couple of years. I could work towards that goal so I don’t ever have to work for anyone else, but it takes years to build up a successful enough business that you don’t need another source of income. Usually. There are stellar cases where people make a million overnight, but those are the exceptions. I don’t want to expect that.

So, I could either spend the next few years pursuing a job that might make me enough money to move to Korea, or I could spend the next few years getting a degree so I could definitely get a job in Korea. I want to be a translator, at least for right now, and so I need to learn the language. Easiest to learn it while in the country. Easiest to get in the country teaching ESL. Need a degree for teaching ESL. Get it? Makes sense, right? There is no program that hires full-time teachers without a degree. If you know of one, please tell me.

Anyway, details and long stories aside, I’m going to college. A degree may not be needed but it can be useful.

I was pretty bummed about this for a long time. I didn’t want to go to college. I don’t like most classes, I hate the propaganda most colleges spout nonstop, and I didn’t want to be surrounded by partying college punks. Ahem. (I know, some of you guys are nice.) So I was dragging my feet and dreading the next two or three years until I could get back to Asia and start my ‘real life.’ Never mind that most people consider teaching abroad a break from ‘real life.’

I was getting so bummed I had to stop and evaluate my reasons for being so put out. What was it I was so upset about? The time, mostly. Two years or more of my life down the drain, so I saw it. But that’s not fair. I can do a lot while I’m there; a lot of really useful, productive things. And it doesn’t mean I won’t get to Asia again until I graduate. There are quite a few study abroad programs at my University. Or I could take another, shorter break and teach again. There’s no real hurry except my impatience. It’s not like I’m old and need to get a move on. Sheesh.

I’ll be moving out soon too. My brother and I are getting an apartment together, so that’s another adventure right there. Sure, I’ve lived away from home this year, but it was with roommates, without housing or utility bills, and at the school. A bit different.

I made a list of things I could do while I was in college. It made me actually excited. Things like; learning how to manage money, learning how to cook organically and naturally, developing an exercise routine, getting fit, learning something like singing or Taekwondo, studying Chinese and Korean, making close, like-minded friends, and getting involved with or starting a ministry at church I can continue in Korea. When I look at it that way, two years seems like a short time! I think of all the things I want to know about, and it’s incredible how two years will fly by.

I’m still a little hesitant, because this is new. I’ve been to college before, but I’ll be moving out this time and taking upper level courses. This will be a big deal. I can’t just skate by.

My blog will change too, of course. I don’t know what my focus will be, but I’ll be continuing to talk about Asia for sure. How Taiwan changed me, what reverse culture shock is like, my plans for Korea, and so on. I’m not sure how much I can write about college. Would be kind of mundane, I think. I’ll probably start up the natural health thing again. How to cook well on a budget and so on. My experiments with natural deodorant or toothpaste or whatever. We’ll see.

I wish I could say my next adventure was another country, getting to know awesome people and eat awesome food, but it’s not. It’s college – one of those steps towards becoming an adult, don’t you know. (Am I not one now?)

otter.