Life in Korea: when the dark side sucks you in

January was a unmitigated disaster. Let’s just get that out of the way from the start.

No question about it, living a life that is 50% isolation and 50% drinking away your money in a bar is not good for the mind, body or soul. I’ve seen myself go from a happy and fulfilled person to someone who is apparently hell-bent on self-destruction. There have even been warnings from concerned friends, but I largely ignored them, continuing to make The Local my entire social life, drinking far too much, getting horrible crushes on men who are either not interested or entirely wrong for me (or both), and dragging myself miserably through the working week with the sole aim of making it to the weekend and doing it all again.

It was only during the latest of many recent all-nighters, when the sun had already been up for several hours and I was still sitting in the bar with the usual suspects, unwilling as ever to go home, that I realised this was really, truly not the direction my life should be going. Things were as messy and undignified as you might expect when a group of 6 people have been sitting in a bar all night and day. For the first time I stepped outside of my blinkered, defiant, “I’m having FUNNNNNNN!” mentality and saw how pathetic the scene was. It’s not me. Maybe once in a blue moon, sure, but not every moment of my free time. It started being unhealthy the second I stopped wanting to do anything else.

I have noticed that the ESL teacher life in Korea does this to quite a lot of people. For some reason, partying becomes a lifestyle, not something you do every now and then for fun. I never really understood it before, having had quite a balanced life of work, play, study, and quiet time, but somewhere around the departure of my friend/colleague, the increasing loneliness at work, and the discovery that the companionship and familiarity I sought could be found in abundance at The Local… well, it happened to me, too.

Maybe it’s a mid(-ish!)-life crisis as I try to figure out where I’m going and what I’m doing. But it occurs to me that I’m probably not going to figure any of it out any quicker by letting this slump become my life, so… I quit.

February will be 100% alcohol-free in order to clear my mind and regain control, and this hopeless floundering will stop.

I am going to spend the month cleaning and organising in all areas of my life (starting, this week, with the disaster zones that are my apartment and classroom).

I’m going to learn to love my own company again instead of being reluctant to go home.

I’m going to sign up for more of the French lessons I stopped several months ago, and I’m going to spend a portion of time each evening doing something for my brain – studying, writing, reading.

I’m going to start cooking proper meals for myself again instead of just pouring water in a bowl of dried ramen or toasting a slice of bread.

I’m going to exercise and get enough sleep.

And above all, I’m going to think long and hard about what I want… and about how to get it. I’m going to figure out what my goals are, and stop this aimless drifting. I’m going to continue to see the therapist I met with last week for the first time, who is – I hope – going to help me with the figuring out process. I know an awful lot of people who’ve benefitted from counselling or therapy in the past and speak positively of their experiences. I think it may be my turn. ;)

Of course, I’ll still go to The Local. I’ll go out for Italian Friend’s birthday next weekend. I’ll go watch the Six Nations rugby matches (unfortunately being shown in the middle of the night here) – just not all of them. But I will not be treating that bar like it’s my home any more, and I will be drinking juice, acting my age, and leaving when it’s time to leave.

This was a hard post for me to write. No one likes to admit they’ve messed up or taken wrong turns, made poor decisions, behaved in a way they’re ashamed of. But I needed to get it out and write it down, and that’s why I started this blog in the first place, I suppose. It’s always had its cathartic moments!

Yes, it’s time to grow up just a little bit, methinks. January was, indeed, a disaster.

February will be better.


3 thoughts on “Life in Korea: when the dark side sucks you in

  1. If there was a category for Most Honest Blog then you would be up there Hayley. How do I know? I just know.

    Good luck with the getting back on track. I’m behind you all the way.

    And. Isn’t it time you were planning your next move?

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