Surprisingly, there hasn’t been much to write about in the past year. But wait, there were so many long holidays in 2017 – Didn’t you travel? Didn’t you do stuff on the weekend? Well….. not really. There was a memorable (and very impulsive) 3-day trip to Tokyo in May that was actually one of the happiest trips I’ve ever taken in my life despite having no plans whatsoever until I arrived at Narita airport and picked up about 30 pamphlets from the tourist information office and read them on my way in to the city. But besides that small glimpse? Work, work, work.
Burn out is something I’ve been struggling with for years because I work a minimum of 50 hours a week, a standard 60 and, more often than not, it edges up in to 70s/80s and stays there. And while I wholeheartedly think that despite a lot of terrible things happening on a large scale in 2017, on a more personal scale, this was actually a quiet year in comparison to 2015 or 2016. It was hard, but those long holidays gave me some respite – not to do anything fun, mind, but to sleep and pointedly not even look at my overflowing desk.
It’s a wonder that I reached some of my goals in 2017, and I’m cutting myself slack for the ones I couldn’t even graze (this blog being one of them. Ugh!) . I read a lot of novels, I participated in NaNoWrimo (and won!), I stayed in touch with family and friends better than I have in previous years (though not especially well), I taught myself how to crochet simple things, and I even sometimes remembered to take my vitamins. I’m already started calling 2017 my “escapist” year because can you see a trend? All of those new hobbies and goals had one thing in common – checking out from reality and tucking myself away faaar away from most people). It’s perhaps something I needed, but something I acknowledge as not being particularly healthy or something that I can continue doing.
And now, 2018 has arrived with a flash and a bang, and it’s already crowded with new and old loud responsibilities. But I’ve made a promise with myself. I’ll be present in the moment this year and I’ll face those things I’ve been straight up avoiding or shying away from as well as I can. I’ll fail, I’ll lapse back in to my books and social media silence, and I’ll be kind with myself as I pick myself back up and push forward against my fears again. But I’ll keep this promise to myself as best as I can.
So what fears am I addressing?
Language. I’ve lived in South Korea for almost all of my twenties, but holding a comfortable conversation in Korean is still something I struggle with. As I side effect, I avoid places (and people) where I might be pushed in to uncomfortable conversations. That’s not really good or even practical way to life, though, is it? Hiding yourself away with my consequences from your actions than benefits. I’m tackling this problem head-on this year. I’m going to take the Test of Proficiency in Korean (ToPiK) II exam this fall. Since the intermediate and advanced exam are combined, I’ll really have to study hard to get the score I want. Upside? I’m already seeing the benefits – rewatching old movies and understanding more of the dialogue – just two weeks in.
Health. I’ve absolutely been terrible about taking care of my body these past couple of years… and it’s shown. I sleep and eat too little and I work too much. I have very, very little muscle mass. Going to the gym alone was soooooo uncomfortable (read: language problems and being stared at) a few years ago, but I’ll see if I can’t psych myself up enough to get another membership this year. In the meantime, my husband and I will start yoga classes together in February. My husband is really great guy, and I really appreciate that he’s so worried about me and that he’s actively getting me to do something I want to do anyway (but, honestly, haven’t had the balls to go through with). Of course, exercise isn’t every thing. I’m gathering a lot of doable, healthy recipes in my bullet journal and slowly trying them out. There’s been more successes than failures so far, thank goodness.
Keeping a Record. This. Sooo much this. This is my planned guilty pleasure for the year. This is actually something that I hadn’t originally thought of and put in to my plans for this year, but…. as I started jotting down just quick notes about my day and it’s ‘rating’… well, it’s made me aware of how I’m passing the time and how quickly it goes. Life quickly passes and disappears in to the darkness, like the silverly-white breath around you mouth as you jog that last hard mile, everything around you lost as your feet hit the asphalt and you’re only aware of the tightness of your chest and the throbbing of your heartbeat in your ears, and you don’t know what you’ve missed until you’re bent over and breathing hard and your senses only just start to come back to you without you ever realizing they’d left. It’s in the way darkness has suddenly fallen over the skyline when it was just light, or the loud traffic in the distance comes at you like a whisper and then like a hammer, and you wobble a bit, trying to count out your breath, disorientated and trying to acclimate yourself to your own body and senses once more, but the chasm between the In and the Out of body experience lasts just long enough to make you aware of it and to fearfully recognize it the next time it seizes you. It’s been a lot like that for me, there are long stretches of time that I can’t account for – lost to my hectic schedule and all it’s deadlines and small emergencies, and in those moments of reprieve of quiet nights in or dates with husband, last just long enough for me to slow down, remember myself and the webs of my own desires and goals, before everything begins once more, and I resign myself to the Out as it swallows me up once more. It’s hard doing that time and time again. I want to keep track of my time, record those good and bad things that are happening, and…. not have to keep finding myself because I don’t want to lose sight of myself to begin with. And, oddly enough, despite being so incredibly important, that’s something I couldn’t realize until after the fact, and it’s one of those things that I didn’t realize how absolutely needed it was until it’s simple truth was laid out for me in my own handwriting and under my own ink-stained fingertips. Be present. It doesn’t so much matter how you achieve it so long as you do.