February 15, 2011 1 Comment
A fond Hello to all my friends and family and random people that have come upon this simple internet blog. Here I will attempt, as frequently as possible to transcribe and record my experiences on this grand new adventure that awaits before me. However, before I begin I must first set down some ground rules.
1. My name is Echo – No, obviously this is not my real name. But on the off chance that I post something I’m not supposed to or make a simple honest to god mistake, I’d rather rely on simple internet anonymity. (So Mom and Dad don’t use my real name if you post up here.)
2. This is a Public Blog – I purposely made this blog public to help others (friends and family included) who plan on traveling to South Korea to teach. This is an exceptionally scary process but it is do-able. Conversely I hope to inspire other to take chances and risks on new and interesting opportunities.
3. I mean no harm – I realize I am an exceptionally blunt and occasionally judgmental person with a list of biases a mile long, but I like people (…I really do). If I offend anyone here leave a comment and I’ll take your complaint into consideration.
4. I do not censor – I will not censor myself or moderate my thought. There are many things I chose consciously not to say when I speak, but my flow of consciousness when I write is completely different. I will always say a lot and it might not always be positive or edited correctly. (however I will refrain from the use of expletives)
5. This is for me as much as for you – Writing Journals/blogs has always kept me sane and focused. Although what I write may be long and drawn out I need to say it even if it doesn’t need to be heard. That being said if I link you to this blog I think highly enough of you to respect my thoughts and feelings.
As stated above my name is Echo and I am leaving everything I have ever known to fly to South Korea and teach English for a year.
“Why…what ever would poses you to do such a thing?” you might ask. Thats a good question considering before making this decision I held a job that paid $10,000 more per year, owned a car, and lived within travelling distance of the nation’s capital, where my best friend stays a 10 minute drive away, and stay with my parents who pay for practically everything I need. ( The keyword there being “need”.) Its even more compelling considering that this was one of the huge issues that caused me to break up with my girlfriend of three years. Why would I leave all of this to take a job in a country where I can’t speak the language, or get around without help, or have a car, or know anyone that could possibly help me?
The answer is simple, because I believe it will make me happy.
What follows below is a long drawn out emotional explanation you do not have to read.
When I had my $30,000 a year job as an outside salesman, the head office was right beneath the BWI airport. All of my co-workers were mothers working to provide their husbands with secondary income sources. Needless to say, we had little to nothing in common so I left the office every chance I got. I watched the planes fly overhead every five to ten minutes and wondered as I carried my packed lunch, “Where were they were going?” and “What were those people were doing with their lives?” At the time, “Up in the Air” was among one of my favorite movies, so I imagined rows full of George Clooney look-a-likes flying around the world on assignments in far away places I would never visit.
I was so obsessed that I would often walk to a car rental facility down the street and have my lunch there. Although it was little more than a glorified parking garage, it resembled an airport terminal and I indulged in this fantasy very often. I watched as people in dark blue business suits strode quickly past, dragging their carry-on luggage and talking in a joking yet professional manner on their cell phones. I saw families scamper past with bright eyed children in tow laughing and giggling in anticipation of meeting family and friends long thought forgotten. I would see men and women lounging in the leather waiting chairs with magazines in hand, and although they seemed bored with idly waiting, you could tell they masked a smile of anticipation for well earned vacations. I usually wore a suit which allowed me to blend in with the crowd, and I pretended I was one of them waiting for some first class flight to a country where I could fluently speak three different languages and four native dialects. It was difficult sometimes getting back to work.
I remember one day I got back from lunch and my boss called me into her office to scold me. As a salesman, it was my job to be instantly like-able in order to make sales. However, that month (and every month before it) my sales were practically nonexistent and the fact that I didn’t get along with anyone in the office made it obvious that I wasn’t what I advertised during my job interview. In order to test my aptitude, she forced me to interact with someone in the office. Fearing for my job and fighting panic attacks I talked to the youngest woman in the office, Jennifer.
Jen, was only two years older than me and had even graduated from college too. Slowly I started to warm up to her. It turned out that she majored in communications (a field I had always taken an interest in) and lived with her parents as well. But things changed when she had her son last year. I asked her what being a parent was like, and although I can’t recount exactly what she said, she relayed to me the idea that her sole purpose for being was her son. She said she would have loved to go back and work in television and radio, but she needed money to feed and clothe her child and the job market (in any industry, let alone entertainment) is horrendously bad. Jen might not have been happy but she was content. She had a son, a firefighting husband and a stable job, what more could she ask for?
But for some reason her smile scared me. I think I couldn’t comprehend why someone would be happy to live such a life. I told her, “Hey maybe you can still do it! There are plenty of routes for film and television. I’m citing this job on my resume as writing and advertising experience while applying to studios in the area. ” At the time I don’t know if I was trying to convince her or myself, but we both knew such hopes were inconsequential. The conversation soon faded and we got back to work, filling out forms, typing in spreadsheets and cold calling business owners who pretended they couldn’t speak English. I remember once that my mom and dad told me no one likes their job. I looked at their expereiences and those of practically everyone I knew and I couldn’t find anything to suggest the contrary. I just figured I was lazy, or unable to accept the truth, because everyone else was fine, maybe no happy, but fine.
That was until I became the exception to the rule. On Monday, October 11th I took a part-time job with paramount pictures working as a Production Assistant for a major motion picture. I still had to work my day job from about 9-5pm then leave and work on set from about 5pm – 5am, but I loved it. I would get no more than three or so hours sleep but I didn’t care. Every day I went to work I was worn out, slow and groggy, but every night I went onset I was excited and energetic to do even the most menial of tasks and go and above the call of duty. Every day I was shy to talk to customers and attempted to avoid them all together, but every night I had to move and interact with crowds of screaming fans and they loved following my directions as much as I loved repeating them until my throat was sore. It came as no surprise to my friends, my family, my girl, my boss, my co-workers and I when I was finally canned from outside sales after a sudden drastic drop in enthusiasm.
I was happy to be free, but it wouldn’t last long. By the time I lost my sales job time my temporary employment as a P.A. had come to an end and the production crew flew back to California. I decided I wanted to go back to school to refocus myself to my passion, but another hurtle appeared in my way. I was still in debt from my practically worthless undergraduate degree, and most of the good film schools with masters degrees required a sample screenplay and three years of life experience after undergraduate graduation, which I obviously lacked. When I considered having to find another job meant only harder work for less pay I fell into a deep state of depression. I knew I wouldn’t save a penny and after working 40+ hours a week in a soul draining job it would be easier to eat the sun than write a complete eye catching screenplay. Since graduating I had lived as a guest in three different homes (including most recently my parent’s), held about five part time jobs (none of which lasted more than three months) and wrote a grand total of 0 pages of a usable screenplay. I remember my dad calling me a coward because I confided in him that I considered suicide more than a few times. I wanted to stay here with my girlfriend and my family and my friends …but after two years of floundering about I knew in my heart nothing would become of this routine.
I remember thinking about Korea back then. I had begun the application process almost two years prior and even held several copies of my transcripts, background checks, apostled degrees and my passport, but I was unsure of weather to finish the process and apply or not. Korea was an escape at first. When I was employed as a salesman I filled out the application almost as a secret “Screw You!” to my company. It was my way of reminding myself that I had other options, that I was still valuable, that I was still useful, that I was still needed in this world. When I lost the job I continued the application, convincing myself that I had no other option, but I didn’t believe for a second I would actually get the job.
When my job matching company called me to tell me the teaching job was confirmed I was shocked. It was nice, thinking that soon I’d have enough income to pay off my school loans, a private place of my own again, time to finish a screenplay and apply for my masters. All of my friends who are in college and/or working much more lucrative jobs are jealous of me, believing that I’ve found the golden ticket away from the monotony of a draining nine to five. They believe I’ve found the free ride to explore eastern Asia like only the natives can. And maybe so some extent they’re right, but I have to sacrifice so much to get there: my car, my money, my comfort in being a place I recognize, the ability to see my friends and family and so much more. The worse part is that after the year is up its possible I’ll have nothing to show for it but the memories in my head.
Yet still I continue. I do so only because its what I need to do. Maybe it’s not better, maybe it’s not worse, but it’s different. I see now that I am not getting what I need to grow and flourish here. I feel stifled and I don’t have the true freedom to express myself or grow. I am not reaching my true potential, and until I do I won’t be happy, I won’t be satisfied. I’ll never settle for this. Korea might not make me happy or help me to reach my true potential but I’ll keep trying different things until I find some place, some time, something that does.
End of long Explanation
I know this post was exceptionally long. But considering no one will read it I’ll promise to make the next one far more interesting, useful and insightful.