Lola O.
Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” – Jack Kerouac
A few rainy days ago, I got off at my usual bus stop and was walking towards my school. When suddenly, one of the teachers at my school tapped me on my shoulder, and we started walking together towards the school. I was going along the usual road I take to school, when she told me of another way to get there, and took me on it. The road I take is steep, and by the time I get to school I am sweating a bit from the climb. However, it was the only road I knew that would get me to was a guarantee that I wouldn't get lost along the way. The road she showed me was less steep, with lovely scenery along the way. It took the same amount of time to get to school, but it was a much nicer journey towards the same destination. As we walked she said to me there are several ways of getting to the school, but she likes taking this one. In my head I thought to myself, why did I never think/try to find another path to get to school.

That experience, got me thinking/reflecting (as usual) about life and the different roads we take or choose not to take towards some destination. Being my self-reflective self I thought about how I got to the road I am currently on, and the road I was on before this one. I thought about the future I had paved out for myself since I was twelve versus the present road I chose to travel on. The Law School Road vs. The Seoul Road.

I was traveling on a road that I had paved out for myself ever since I was twelve years old and doing mock courts in Social Studies. The plan was to go to college, get a degree in Finance (The College Road), next go to Law School and study corporate law, then practice law for 7 years or so, lastly achieve my 12 year old "dream" of becoming a Judge (The "Dream" Road). I was that kind of kid, the one who spends her days dreaming and planning out her future in every delicate detail. It was my way of being in control of something in my life. I thought to myself that this is something I can do well, this is something that will allow me to take care of my family (mom/siblings) in the future, this is something that will make my mom proud of me...this is something that will make me someone with purpose. I've spent the past 22 years of my life dreaming about how my future would/will be. I was so focused on achieving those things, that I never really got to experience was it means to be a kid. I felt like I had a lot of responsibilities, and didn't have time to play around.

I spent my childhood trying to be an adult, and now I am trying to be a child. Now it is time for me to play, to discover, to fail and pick myself back up again, to just live in the present without agonizing over the future. I've discovered that my future is a road that changes daily with every action or inaction I take, every choice I make or don't make, and all the things I do in the present. The Future Road, is layered with everything that happens in the here and now. I'm doing my best to not worry about the future, and just enjoy the present. That is what living is about. I'm 22 years old, but sometimes it feels like I am a newborn taking my first steps into this world. While at other times, I feel like I am older than I am. Sometimes I feel so naive and oblivious to things, because there is so much I haven't experienced, both good and bad. At the same time, I've experienced a lot of things. So these days I am telling myself to take care of me, discover what makes me happy/unhappy, what I want from myself and others, how do I imagine my life to be. I'm letting myself dream a dream just for me.
Life is about detours...
I'm traveling down The Seoul Road not just because it is a place I've wanted to go to. But because it's an opportunity for me to discover myself a little more. To get a deeper look into the layers that make me who I am and who I am not. I came here, because I knew that the road I was on was getting too bumpy. I needed a chance of pace, I needed time to figure myself out. I need time to be honest with myself about the person I want to be and the kind of future I wanted for myself. I needed time just for me, to hear my voice, and mine alone, and to give myself room to dream, breathe, and explore.

I wanted to stop trying to grow up so fast, and let myself be the 22 year old young woman I am. A young woman who still has a lot to learn, experience, and figure out. I wanted this chance to learn, make mistakes, explore, and learn some more. A chance to discover myself, create myself, and love myself. Coming to Seoul, was/is so much more than going abroad. It's the chapter in my life story that I am most excited to create. Because no matter what, this is the chapter that lets go of the past, and determines the next road I take in my life.

I'm not twelve years old anymore. My dreams have changed and in some ways stayed the same. I don't have the future figured out...I'm still working on the present. I might still end up at the same destination, but I am taking a different road now. I don't know how long I will stay on this one, or what the next road will bring. All I know is that I am traveling towards a constantly changing future on a road I have chosen to go on. I'm searching for, creating ,discovering, and seeking my happiness with every day that I get to be alive. Little by little I am figuring it out.

The past two years of my life have taken me through highs and lows, but I have learned so much about myself. The most important thing is being happy, and doing my best to make others happy. I've learned that I am stronger and weaker than I thought. I've learned that at the end of the day if I helped one person get a little closer to achieving their dreams then I will be fulfilled. I always wondered what my purpose was in this world, why was I created, and what should I do with the time I have here. Those were the kinds of questions running around in my head even when I was a kid. Little by little I am discovering that my meaning my life has is the one I give it. The life I choose to live defines that, and I know that I want to help others find their meaning, dream, and happiness. I'm not sure what that means career wise, but I believe that I am on my way to figuring that out. I don't need to be anything but happy with who I am, and how I am living my life. That's the perspective I am taking into my daily life. So I am going to do things my way, in my own time, and create the life I can be happy with. Not content, or settled, but happy! Really, truly, and beautifully happy with myself inside and out.

This detour that I am taking, is the best decision I ever made for me. This might lead to other detours, or just a new Dream Road to travel on. Or many dream roads to travel on. Why should we/I only have one dream? I'm going to keep dreaming for as long as I live. That's the thing about having a dream, it can change, expand , evolve, split...etc. It's something that changes as you change, grows as you grow. Just as you and I evolve, so do our dreams. That is something I recently realized. Just because I had a dream for my life at twelve, doesn't mean that is the only dream I will have or live by. I have so many questions and few if any
answers, but that is okay. I will figure it out in my own time and way. It feels good just breathing and living my life day by day. I know now what it means to feel happy, be happy with who you are, where you are going, and the life you are living.

For now I am going to be selfish and put myself first. I don't know how long this journey will take, or what places it will take me to. I just know that for now this is the road I need/want to be on. It's the road of self-discovery and creation. It's taken me this long to find it, and I have a feeling it is going to be a long ride...the forever kind. I'm sure there will be many roads along the way, since this is a lifetime kind of journey. I'm excited to travel along these roads of life. To learn, to see, to explore, to create, to fall and fail, to stand up again and triumph, to just be free to get on and off as I please. To live a life I have created just for me...

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. – Henry Miller
I hope when people read my blog, they see that. Yes, I am here to teaching, living, and traveling. But this is a journey that is more internal that external. This is a chapter in my life where I am the only one holding then pen. This blog isn't just about my life here in Seoul. It's about my life, and the discoveries I make as I live. I say all this because I know that there are people in this world like me, searching, wondering, trying to figure out what road to take, and my advice is follow your heart, go towards your happiness the best way you know how. Don't limit your dreams, or let other people choose it for you. This is your story, this is your life, so pick up that pen and start writing...

Be Blessed,
~Lola O.~

I've posted this song before, but I think it really suits this entry. In a way this song changed my life, the way I see things, and helped me to follow my heart...
3 Responses
  1. Mel Says:

    Hi Lola,

    It's me again. Just to let you know that I'm very encouraged by your predicament (can't think of a better word, sorry).

    I faced a similar situation last year as well. I had a full scholarship to UK but turned it down as I didn't see myself being happy down that road, even though it would make a lot of people happy, including my parents. But I decided to leave it and take something else, where I followed my heart to leave.

    I hope you continue to find joy in the path you've chosen, as there are very few of us who know for sure what they want to do in life, and above all, know for sure what God wants them to do for life.

    Keep going Lola! I'm sure Seoul would be great for you :)

  2. I was preparing the bar for public school teacher for 4 years. After graduation of university in 2003, the real word was far beyond my expectation. I made my decision to go to the graduate school of education. The decision was only for me at fisrt. However, as time went by, my goal for becoming a teacher became my family's goal, my boyfriend's goal and the condition for marriage. I was so stressful.
    The more I studied, the more I wanted to go out and stand before students and teach them. Besides becoming public school teacher, I knew there are several ways of becomin "teacher" without the bar. After I failed the exam, everyone around me told me to try again.
    I knew, however, I wouldn't make it. I was/am the person who likes teaching, not being stuck in the library spending my life.
    So I decided to quit studying for myself. Some of my friends who prepared the exam together coudln' t quit because their boyfriend or family wanted them to try it again. I knew that it's wrong. I knew the "teacher" I am doing is not a full-time job. It's temporary which I have to extend my contract every year.(Almost same as yours)
    You know what.. when you make decision by yourself, you never regret. Even if I regret my decision, it's my fault. When I was in the middle of 20s, I was so confused and lost. I felt like I was loser who couldn't find my way.
    I'm happy to read your story. You've found your goal and leading yourself toward it. I'm so proud of you. You are only 22. When I was 22, I was studying hard, really hard but the studying was just studying without sincere considering my future.
    Fortunately now I'm in peace doing my favorite job and trying to be a mother.
    What I realized after such hard time is that there always comes another chances. :)

    I'm glad you are finding yourself in this new world. See you!

  3. Lola O. Says:

    Thanks Mel, I think as long as I follow my heart and do the things that make me feel happy, I will eventually find what I want to spend my life doing daily. Thanks for the encouragement. I hope you also continue to follow your heart.

    Cosmoya: You are right, making this decision for me, by myself is something I will never regret. No matter what happens down the road, I took this risk with my own being and will deal with the good and bad that comes from it. I'm learning to trust myself, and follow my intuition. For my voice to be the deciding voice. Day by day, little by little, I'm finding myself more and more, creating myself more and more. I'm happy!