Tuesday, March 13, 2012

i know you mean well (i think)

I'm on a search for a new city to live in. I've been at my parents' house for a week and a half now, and after my vacation to visit Lauren in San Francisco, I have to figure out what comes next. I know I'm not going back to Seoul, but that only rules out one out of a few hundred thousand in the world. After living in Korea's capital, I really miss my big city, so I pulled up wikipedia's list of the biggest cities in the US. I scratched off a few I'm not interested in and called the rest my potential homes.

The thing is, the more I talk to people here, the more discouraged I get. Every time someone tells me that I need to "just get this out of my system" or that I should "do this while I'm young so I can settle down soon," a part of me curls up inside and hides away. I don't think that my desire to travel, my desire to make friends all over the world, my desire to see cultures other than my own and learn the way the world is so intricately knit together is a virus my immune system is working to get out of my body. I don't think this is some kind of inferior state, a mistake where I'll recognize my folly and come to my senses and have a "normal life." What if this is just me? What if these passions are part of my DNA, what if this is only the beginning of a life that seeks to know the world in a way you can't simply by reading about it?

I know people mean well when they tell me that they want me to live close by. I know deep down that they are just trying to find a way to say, "We miss you when you're not around. Please stay." But when I throw out a city I'd like to explore and it's met with a "eh, how about Columbus?", I feel like they're telling me I'm a failure. I'm not saying that everyone who chooses to live in Columbus is a failure by any means. What I'm trying to articulate is that when people tell me I shouldn't live in San Francisco or Chicago or Bangkok, I hear that I can't. I know they're just trying to keep me close to home so they don't have to drive as far to visit, but what I hear is completely different. I hear that I'm not clever enough, not strong enough, not brave enough, not capable enough, not something enough to handle living the life I dream of. And all it makes me want to do is prove them wrong.

Honestly, I probably wouldn't mind living in Columbus, but I want to move there because God tells me it's the next step on my journey, not because I "can't handle" living anywhere else. I want to know I chose my next city on my own terms, not because I was afraid of disappointing everyone who refuses to drive more than an hour to get to me. When things get hard (as life inevitably does), I want to stand firmly on the conviction that I'm living exactly where God told me to be and not have to wonder if I'm somehow in the belly of a whale.

I went to the doctor the other day, and the woman who checked my weight and blood pressure and such asked me if I was excited to be home. I told her I'm excited to start a new adventure, and she said she hopes I get this out of my system before I have kids. With the most polite smile I could muster, I informed her that when I have kids, they'll just have to come with me.


  1. love the last sentence! haha!!

  2. I admire you SO much, Oldest Cousin. So much so that whenever Korea comes up (as it does quite a lot, actually, working with the international side of an engineering firm), I always proudly say "My cousin used to live there!" And when India comes up (as it often does, again working with international type ppl), I always say "My cousin lived there for a bit too!"

    You amaze me, and I am so proud to be your second youngest cousin. And you just keep on keeping on, because your story is far from over.

    PS Salt Lake City is a fun city too. Not exactly "big" in terms of metropolises, but if you want to experience another culture/religion Up Close and Personal (Hello, Mormonism), we have a spare room. And a cat. But he'll share the spare room.