I live in Korea, South Korea obviously, although you’d be surprised how many people routinely ask me if I’m living in North Korea. Nevermind the fact that they are asking me over Facebook chat and North Korea has been known to have little to no electricity. C’est la vie, I can’t fault them, Asia is far away and Korea is pretty much off everyone’s radar as a place to visit, let alone live. Which is why on days like these when it sinks in that I live in South Korea, I wonder how I got here. What series of tiny adventures pushed my fate so far east?
I’ve been a Californian for practically all my life, with the exception of the two years of my early childhood spent in Guam, the summer I lived in Switzerland, the semester I spent living on a ship traveling around the globe, and of course the three summers spent in God’s great country of Leakey, Texas (perhaps my greatest adventure of them all). So yes, I have gotten around, but the reason it’s so shocking to me is because up until 18, I spent practically my whole existence in the same five-mile radius wondering if I was ever going to exist anywhere besides Escondido, California.
I spent more than my fair share of nights following my dad around the house pestering him with the rantings of my existential crisis. “I’m never going to have any adventures. I feel like I live in a bubble. I have no idea what I want to do with my life. I’m never going to be famous” (at this juncture in my existence all I wanted was to be a Disney Channel star, part of me still wants this a little too much). Life felt pretty unremarkable. The highlight of my high school years were spent racing my friends to Chipotle on Tuesdays when the Seniors got to leave campus for lunch, working my first real job at Hot Dog on a Stick, and attending an embarrassing number of Aly & AJ concerts (six, it was six).
And then all at once high school was over, the days and years that felt like they’d never end were fast becoming a giant mush of memories that sat in the back of my brain, like old leftovers you’ve forgotten in the trunk of your car. Then college came and my little bubble burst, letting in a rush of fresh air that I’d never fully felt before. It took me a while to realize the feeling was opportunity. This was the first time I got to decide who I wanted to be. Armed with a closet full of Old Navy tank tops in every color, a fresh new bedspread and a dorm room packed to the brim, I set about doing things I’d never thought I’d do. I talked to boys, drank alcohol, drank too much alcohol, joined a sorority, did stand-up comedy, and made the best friends of my life. Everything felt so new, and so full of possibility that I never wanted it to end.
Strangely it’s been two full years since my senior year of college started, and the panic of real life looming just over the horizon started to settle in. And just like with high school, college is starting to become a collage of memories, inside jokes, clever facebook photo albums titles, and endless pages of class notes all jumbled together in a file in my mind labeled BEST TIME EVER.
I wish I could go back now to the high school me sitting at our round glass dining room table next to my dad, anxiously chattering away about how my life would end up boring and uneventful. Or the college freshman me, patiently parked outside Pepperdine’s cafeteria at 7am (also next to my dad) waiting for check-in to start, wondering if I’d make any friends, if I’d like college, or if I’d be back at my house next weekend crying to my parents that I’d made the wrong choice. Even the freshly graduated me, once again crying to my parents on the same green couch we’ve had since I was in second grade, wondering if I was ever going to find a job, let alone an exciting one.
No matter where we are or how far we’ve come, it’s hard to imagine that the future is going to turn out alright. We all have a version of ourselves sitting in the forefront of our wildest dreams patiently waiting to come to fruition, and our deepest fear is that they’ll never get their chance to exist. But what I’ve found, even in my short twenty-three years of life, is that often times the us we become is far better than the one we imagined. God is good in immeasurable quantities and has never ceased to surpass my own expectations. which looking back were so small to begin with. I am currently living in South Korea, thousands of miles away from Escondido, CA. Madness, right? But then again maybe it’s not, maybe life is just a series of tiny adventures blowing us steadily towards the us we were supposed to become all along.