Deciding on the Unknown

For the past few months I’ve been thinking about my next move. What do I want to do with my life? What are my goals? Do I stay one more year and save more money? Do I travel for a while? Do I finally head home and settle in a career I don’t even know what I want to do?

In the beginning I was 60% sure I would just change cities and move to the coast of Southern South Korea. Save a little more money and head back. But in the bottom of my heart I wasn’t convinced this was the answer for me.  Luckily, I had a vacation coming up and I realized that during it I’d probably reach a more concrete decision.

Which within 4 days of being on vacation I realized I was done with Korea. I’m a creature of habit so routine is easy for me even if I really crave change. I’d say Korea has given me the opportunity to meet great friends, travel, save money, and find out more about myself while being outside the reach of others. On the other hand, I’d also admit that despite all the good and in staying longer than I probably needed here I’ve wasted time in a sense. Yet, if I didn’t waste that time I wouldn’t have come to the final conclusion that I did during my most recent vacation.

Of all the things I want to do the biggest shackle to them all has been my student loan debt. I haven’t worked a high paying job since graduating college and despite what people back home might think I’m only making about $23,000 a year. That is a lot less than most people I know back home make and its probably the reason why during the last 10 years since graduating I haven’t moved into a lifestyle others have, though I have been rewarded in other ways. Forsaking a conventional life for what is considered a low paying salary back home (decent salary here) I’ve been able to lower my debt while traveling to new countries. Which to me is a fair tradeoff.

So what happens when the shackle comes off? I’m free to live an unconventional life. In the sense that I’m not ready to be tied down to what seems to be necessary to life. Being debt free means I can travel more while volunteering my time versus panicking that I can’t do any of the above thanks to looming debt. I can forgo huge expenses other people deem necessary (a house, a car) as I’m fortunate enough to have the love and support of a family that will let me crash and enjoy their stability.

Its taken me a long time to come to accept that I’m an oddity among my circle of family, friends, and acquaintances. It also makes me wanting to find a future husband and having kids on my preferred timeline harder( which frequently upsets me). At times as distant and unlikely as the outcome may be or upset me I don’t want to stay put and be unhappy in other areas of my life either. I try to tell myself if I’m where I want to be I’m bound to meet someone eventually, even if it isn’t in the timeframe I want. Most days I’m okay with those words the days I’m not I’m consumed by a comparison bug that asks me what the fuck I am doing and why am I not like everyone else?!

Why don’t you tell me inner demon? Cause its a mystery to us both.

Ultimately I don’t want to regret the chances not taken. Even if it is hard mentally or physically I want to know I at least tried. I might regret how much time I invested, but at least I won’t be filled with regret that I never pursued it. Those types of thoughts I don’t feel like entertaining anymore. I know at the end of the day I have the privilege to move back home and live a conventional life. But until I’m ready to do so I’m probably going to keep stumbling along until I find where I belong.

As for the future, I don’t have too concrete of a plan. I have a vague idea of what I want to do and depending on how much money I have leftover with my severance pay will decide a bit more of my timeline decisions. I gained an idea of what I want to do in the long run, but I don’t have the path to get there.  As with all things there are some steps that are needed to get us a touch closer to where we want to go.  My trip enabled me to realize I had lost sight of my original vision to work with Tibetan communities, whether that be in exile in the USA, India, or Nepal. Or working with Tibetans inside Tibet. In what capacity that can manifest, I’m not too sure. Whether it be NGO work or continuing as an ESL teacher and then  helping in other ways.

So currently, I’ve decided to set a smaller goal for myself. Regardless of what job I’ll be working I need to be able to communicate with others effectively in order do what I want. So I’ve decided to start studying Tibetan on my own, I probably will have to hire a tutor at some point, but it is a start. I also plan to pick up a little Mandarin as well. I don’t expect myself to be fluent anytime soon, but I’m hoping to at least to get some basics down in the next 7 months.  Anyone who has studied either language that can offer help or insight would be appreciated.

So what is the current decision? Before I kill my mother from missing me, I will be spending some time at home. Whether that be one month or three months I don’t know. What I do know is I want to enjoy some time with family and friends before I decide to move on to a new place.

We all need to find what grounds us and makes us happy. Sometimes having a breakdown followed by a change of scenery can bring all the answers hidden deep in your heart to the surface. In the last four years as much as I adore and at times abhor change it is a part of life and is good for us. Life would be a bit boring if we only learned to sail on calm seas. So learn to steer yourself through the storms and set your sights towards the horizon as there is bound to be something amazing ahead waiting to be seen. 

6 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I miss and love you too.. This has been an amazing experience for you. To pay off your student debt in such a short period lifts a tremendous burden off of you. It frees you. We are looking forward to spending time with you as well before you fly away again. … Hopefully closer this time!

  2. What a beautiful picture of you! We are all looking forward to seeing you before you start on your next voyage. Your writing reflects the poetry in your mind.j

    1. I’m glad the writing reflects the poetry in my mind! I didn’t consider myself poetic, haha. Looking forward to seeing you and Grampa too. 🙂

  3. Nina,
    You are one spectacular lady to say the least..The fact that you have your priorities in order, with paying off your student loan being paramount, tells me you got your shit together !!! Ya know Nina, you spoke of not really knowing what , where and how to get there.or where .your next move would be…well, Lady Bug, all I can say is there is no way any of those questions can be answered , even after asking directions as to how to get there if you don’t know where you are ! But ! by the sounds of things, you have figured out your own map, and know exactly where the hell you are… which is wonderful..You are well put together, Ms. .Nina..
    Glad you will be home soon, and I along with Many, Many friend’s and family can’t wait to see your smiling face..Don’t be too much concerned about settling down, cuz’ when you least expect it, Mr. right will be knocking on your heart.!!!
    Enjoy your holiday, and as always I send love and hugs to you on your side of the world, from me on my side ..Please stay well, take care and don’t forget for one second,everyone is so damn proud of you.
    Love, Aunt millie

    1. Thanks so much Aunt Millie! I can’t wait to see you and catch up as well, along with everyone else. I’m glad it sounds like I kind of have my map figured out as it seems a bit blurry to me still! lol. But like you said hopefully someone will come knocking on my heart. xoxo

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