Signs

You’re in love. Your heart aches, but in a good way. Like somebody gently squeezed it, just enough to feel that inexplicable shot of electricity that leaves you giddy. You cannot help the corners of your mouth go up in a smile. Sometimes it feels that you could go on all day without eating (but then, in my case, I usually end up being hungry and eating shamelessly). The world around you is rosy. Sometimes, when you think about it very hard, it’s hard to believe that this is all happening to you.

Yet, it IS happening to you. It IS happening to me.

(Oh, and by the way, for those who haven’t noticed, the object of my ‘love’ is NOT a guy. It’s soooo much better – or at least that’s what I tell myself.)

Up until a few days ago, I was scrambling for signs that would tell me I was indeed going to go somewhere and be someone. Everywhere I looked, something was telling me that it was going to be okay. And I’m the type that brushes off and sigh at people when they squeak ‘Oh my god! That’s a good luck sign!’ or ‘That’s definitely a sign that he is interested in me’ or ‘This is it. This is telling me we’re meant to be’. But when you’re desperate, the world is talking to you and you only, and ever since August last year, I’ve been gathering these signs wherever and however I could. They turned stupider and stupider as time went by and I was left alone, stranded in my lonely island of false hope and foolish signs. But now, I can finally share my half-year long state of delusion without looking too desperate.

  1. I guess the first sign would have to be a sweet belated birthday card (hence August and not July) from a dear friend from grad school. Aware of my ‘failure’ that year, she wrote ‘Unni, I dreamed that you told me, smiling, you got into a school of your choice and were going to the States. Surely, it’s a sign you will succeed this year!’. That was indeed touching, even if she hadn’t really dreamed it. And a definite sign.
  2. The second sign was also from a very good friend’s dream. Out of the blue, she texted me ‘Seulgie, I dreamed that we went shoe-shopping and you bought two pairs of shoes. ‘Shoe dreams’ are meant to bring good luck! Look it up!’. Of course, I didn’t look it up, and I don’t believe in dreams (except my Mom’s sometimes, because her rate of ‘success’ is pretty uncanny and scary…). But still, it’s the thought that counts. Plus, she is just as skeptic as I am when it comes to ‘believing in signs’. So if she believed in it, who was I not to?
  3. When I went to register to the gym, I had gone to register for three months only, fully knowing myself. The manager somehow convinced me (again, fully knowing myself, it must have been pretty easy for him to convince me) that I should register for 6 months. It made sense at that time. What, was I going to quit only after three months? No, of course not. Registering for 6 months would be much cheaper than registering for 3 months twice. Think of it as an investment (OK, I can do that…). Then, they added me 2 months ‘free of charge’, which extended my obligation to the gym to the end of August. Well, that would be perfect, since I would probably have to leave in the beginning of September for the new semester. All was well.
  4. Kurt got accepted at NYADA. Who is Kurt? Well, Kurt Hummel from Glee of course. If he failed the previous year (just like me), and then got into his dream school the next year, well, surely, this was a sign that I too, would be able to reach for my dream a year later. And yes, the tears I shed with him on that episode were for real. Don’t judge me.
  5. The presidential elections. Yes, I went as far as to assume the fate of this country was somehow linked to the fate of the small, insignificant being I was. What, with Ms. Park being elected as the president, God had to at least get me out of here. If Candidate Moon had been elected, then I would have been sorry not to experience the changes he would have brought to the country. So in God’s great schemes, he was going to make at least one person stay true to her words ‘Well, with her as the leader, I’m getting out of this country!’.

There probably were more, one even less significant than the other, and making even less sense, but I felt foolish jolting them down, even if they were going to be used for a day as today.

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Oh Hope thou art treacherous

I didn’t want to write this because I didn’t want to jinx anything, but today is graduation day at SNU, and having graduated from the Graduate School of International Studies (GSIS), as a proud holder of an MA, just a year ago, I can’t help but assess how much I have changed (or, sadly enough, unchanged) since then.

Having had yet another (!) rejection this morning, it is truly a miracle, I find, that I can get up from my bed  at all, come to work and type away my miseries. Geez, re-reading this makes me want to kill myself…

Having had yet another (!) rejection from a grad school this morning (I’ve lost count now), I think it is fair and about time to assume that a Ph. D degree and going to the States won’t be part of my near future. Yet while most of my brain tells me that, there is this tiny and thin thread of hope that I desperately cling on to, a hope that will linger on as long as the remaining five schools don’t deliver the fatal (or redeeming?) verdict. And so, yes, I cannot yet make myself  look for a ‘real job’ thoroughly enough right now, for, what if I found the perfect job, applied for it, got it (because doh? Of course my resume is brilliant and I will ace the interview), and then, suddenly, Oh Behold, Harvard offers me a fully-funded Ph. D position? Well now, I would have to let down the people who made the wise decision of hiring the awesome person that I am. Oh the disappointment they will have! I’ve had enough disappointment in my life, I don’t want to be the one to bestow it on others. 

Yes, call me crazy and delusional, but that is roughly what has been going through my head for the past couple of weeks. I will probably regret not having made extra effort to find a job a few weeks from now, but that’s the thing with hope, isn’t it? You can’t just make it go away, no matter how much you try to reason with yourself. It lingers there, it hops here and about, taunts you, hands you water to your thirsty and starched soul, only to take it away when you finally gather up the courage to accept what you know is poison for your mind.

Oh Hope thou art treacherous

It’s like when I was a kid, I knew in my head that I had screwed up an exam, I checked, with my very own eyes that what I had written in my paper was not the correct answer to the question. Yet I hoped with all my heart, for the following few days, that somehow, history had changed and suddenly, yes, the First World War had indeed started in 1916, or that a guardian angel had corrected the + sign in my Math paper to the correct – sign. But the day finally came when the teacher would hand out back our exam, and hope scurried along to haunt another kid while sticking its tongue out for a last chance of mockery, and I had to face the red pen marks of my teacher and the bad grade it ensued.

This tormenting relationship continues to this day, and to this day, I cannot, will not, learn my lesson. Because just when I’m about to give up, it suddenly offers its generous hand and rejoices at my relieved shout ‘Yes! There IS hope!’, only to snort at my naivety once more. Hope is sometimes overly exaggerated. Sure, it’s what makes us go on day after day, year after year, but at what cost? At the cost of seeing your imaginary world, which you carefully built day after day, shatter into a thousand pieces with a simple rejection letter, a phone call, a click at your keyboard, a message, and so on.

Oh Hope, you are mean and misguiding…

yet…

today again, I hope.

I hope that one school will open its doors for me.

I hope that I will get a great job.

I hope that I will finally move out from my parents’ house.

I hope that I will make enough money to take a trip once a year.

I hope that I will meet my Chandler and live happily ever after.

Yes! We’re bound to achieve our dream, whatever that may be, sooner or later!