Goodbye 2013, Thank You 2013

For the purpose of this post, see: Two Sides of a Same Coin
For the ‘other side”s take on this topic, see: 2013 wasn’t so bad

(The December post has been delayed… like… a lot… due to… erm… busy schedule, not laziness)

As I wave goodbye to 2013, I feel like I have to take a moment to look back at those past 365 days and assess what kind of year this has been. And since I’m usually critical and cynical about things in general, I thought this was a good opportunity to shake off that sarcasm of mine for a while and be, actually, thankful. And thank God, 2013 has given me a couple of things to be thankful for.

thankful4

I am thankful for the people; the new ones, the old ones. I am thankful for the new people I’ve met, for teaching me that it’s never too late to make friends, that once the initial awkwardness and dread of ‘mingling’ is over, it will all be worth it. There is something particularly enchanting and heart-warming when a ‘new friend’ picks up a jewelry you’ve been eyeing for some time, turns around, and says “This is so you”. I am more than thankful for the ‘old’ people I had to leave, for they are the only reasons I miss Korea like I never thought I would, for giving me memories to miss and to long for. And both have made me realize that no matter where you are, it’s the people you are with that matters. Boston wouldn’t be such a charming city if it weren’t for my sister (who, suddenly, when I finally join her in Boston, has field work and conferences all over the world but Boston…hmm…) or for the new friends I’ve met. I wouldn’t miss Seoul if it weren’t for the lunches, dessert, drinks and laughs I had with my dear old friends. And I often imagine, how much lovelier and more awesome Boston would be if I had my old friends here with me.

I am thankful for being here, on so many levels. Being in Boston doesn’t only mean I finally got to live outside of Korea, on my own, after I was old enough to make the decision and to go through the petty little things, as well as the big major steps, to make it happen. It means that I finally got back to all the sister-things I used to do – watching movies at the cinema, binge-watching TV shows at home, bursting out in hysterical laughs, having coffee. Maybe this shouldn’t be the first thing that comes to mind at my age and at this stage in my life. But well, what can I say, it is.

On a more serious note however, being in Boston also means I finally got to open and step in the door that I think is my goal in life, for now. While waiting to come here, I often wondered whether this was not simply a fleeting infatuation of mine, like so many I’ve had. What if I had the wrong idea about what studying more meant? What if after a semester I realized that staying at school was the most excruciating thing ever? What if I ended up disappointed, disillusioned, and lonely? True, not all my classes were mind-blowing and not every single hour felt like a blessing. But overall, I wouldn’t exchange the few moments of excitement and eagerness I had during this semester for anything. I still have only a faint idea of what my main research subject will be in the future, but for once, the unknown is not so scary or daunting. I’m thankful to have the confirmation that I was not living in a bubble and to know that maybe, I’m not wasting my time doing this.

I’ve always loved JD’s last comments on Scrubs on endings. I thought about them when a close friend of mine graduated from grad school, and also when I myself graduated from GSIS. And although his words are about endings, I think they could just as well apply to new beginnings.

“Endings are never easy. I always build them up so much in my head they can’t possibly live up to my expectations and I just end up disappointed. I’m not even sure why it matters so much to me how things end up here. I guess it’s because we all wanna believe what we do is very important, that people hang onto our every word, that they care what we think. The truth is, you should consider yourself lucky if you occasionally get to make someone, anyone, feel a little better. After that, it’s all about the people you’ve let into your life. (…) As to the future, it didn’t seem so scary anymore. It could be whatever I want it to be. And who’s to say this isn’t what happens? Who can tell me that my fantasies won’t become true? Just this once…” 

So here’s to being thankful for what I have, and for what I will have.

The best things to be thankful for are often what we already have.

The best things to be thankful for are often what we already have.

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