Saturday, May 19, 2012

Making and Breaking Plans, Left and Right

Before we moved to South Korea, I wanted to do the Peace Corps. I had to wait because I wanted to go with my then boyfriend (now husband), and only married couples can serve together in the Peace Corps. Then I found out we would have to wait even longer because it's Peace Corps policy that couples must be married for at least a year before their departure date. That changed everything.

I was stuck in a paper pushing, cubicle job and hated it so much that I would sometimes go cry in the bathroom by myself. I was getting nowhere fast and hating 40 hours a week of my life but I was making big plans to make travel and the expat lifestyle central in my life.

I did tons of research at work. I explored so many options. I read travel blogs, and I searched for overseas job opportunities. I gushed about all the choices and opportunities we had to Spencer after work every night and we made a plan.

At this time last year, the plan was to get married, teach English in South Korea for a year, apply for the Peace Corps, and hope the timing worked out so that our year long contract in Korea was over before our departure date. It would have worked since applying for the Peace Corps is a long process, especially when they are trying to place two people in the same place.

This is not what happened. As we got to South Korea and started dealing with living in another country, we forgot about the plan. We pushed it aside. There are so many other opportunities in the world! We want to do a work/holiday visa in Australia but you have to be under 30 so we only have a few years left to do that. We want to travel SE Asia. We want to spend a year living in Europe. We want to eventually have kids. We have to make sure we have enough savings or make enough money for our expensive student loan payments every month.

All I keep thinking is: how are we ever going to accomplish everything? We don't have enough time! Life it too short! We must get out there now!

We need to stay in South Korea because we can save a lot of money here and we need the money for those aforementioned student loans but I can't help but feel like we are wasting time. We are only going to be under 30 for so long. After that my baby maker clock will be ticking. It's scary to think I only have four and a half years left until I'm 30. I don't really feel like I'm a real adult yet and honestly, I don't ever want to feel that way. 

Maybe I'm planning too much but that's what I do. I'm a planner. I like having a five year plan, even if that plan changes every 3 months...or weeks (which it often does!). I like knowing that I am headed in some kind of direction and what that direction is.

Unfortunately, I think my planning tendencies have backed me into a corner with Spencer. He wants to follow the plans we made previously, but I want to change them. I don't want to stay in Korea through November.

I've been reading a lot about development recently through books and blogs and I've discovered, for the second time, my desire to help people through aid work. I want to do the Peace Corps but first I want to have some kind of experience and knowledge that I can use to actually help people. If I don't have any valuable skills or knowledge to teach people, what would I be doing there? Nothing. I want to help people but I want it to be meaningful and real. Good intentions are nothing without something substantial to back them up.

I want to move to India to do volunteer work or move to Australia to get experience working on organic farms. I want to begin my on the ground training to be an international aid worker and I want to start NOW. (I've never been very good at being patient.)

So, these are the thoughts floating around in my brain right now. I'm not sure what will happen next. It seems like a lot rides on being able to pay our student loan payments, which is disheartening. Spencer wanting to follow our plan to stay in Korea is based on that sad fact. If we stay, we will be financially secure and able to sustain our semi-nomadic lifestyle longer. If we leave, we can start our adventures a few months earlier but might be hard strapped for cash sooner.

I know Spencer is right. It makes the most sense to stay and I have to remember that a few months is not really that long. I think the payoff will be worth it in the end but it's so hard to wait while there's so much to learn and do in this world! People always say, "good things come to those who wait." I sure hope they're right.


  1. November seems far away but doesnt Japan seem like just yesterday? ..and you only have to wait about that same amount of time to pass before you'll be off and away again! :) You can do it!!! As much as I am enjoying Korea, December 1st 2012 will be a fantastic day of freedom and adventure for me as well.

    1. I can't wait until December! Just about six more months now...