Monday, January 30, 2006

Coming to Terms with Being

Fuck money. Fuck careers. Fuck women. I think that I if anything I have had to learn the hard way that learning to say fuck it is an incredibly important, zen experience that one must come to in order to officially stop being a child and grudgingly realize that being an adult just as silly as it sounded twenty years ago. Fuck youth and innocence as well, because the real truth is being true to who you are, and that cannot be so easily fucked away. 

For those who may have wondered I am still alive, and still living in Korea, for better or for worse. I made a decision almost two years ago now to take a high paying job near Seoul. The decision had several riders: It will be good for my career. It is the kind of position I can devote myself. I can see doing it for more then five years. I’ll finally get the respect I deserve for all that hard work I do. I’ll make lots of money. I’ll be living in Seoul. Everyone loves Seoul. I’ll still be in Korea so it will be fine.

I went home for two months after a silly interview and waited to get the good paying job that I was trying to talk myself into. In the meantime I had someone writing me everyday hinting that they would like to pick me up as an independent program writer. All things come to pass, I got the job, and the independent writing gig to help set up programs or the school.

The money was fantastic. I was utterly and horrifically depressed. I was not so stupid as to be suicidal, but I was so depressed as to drink lots and lots to feel better. I spent all the extra money taking off on weekends to go see friends on the other end of the country. The money that I wasn’t spending on traveling I spent on booze. I stopped painting. I stopped writing. I stopped checking websites and the internet. I had essentially dropped out of my life and into a wonderful career job where I made good money.

I did not realize in the beginning just how fucked I was. Sure the forty to seventy hour weeks seemed a bit familiar. Sure drinking was something I used to do only on the weekends. Sure I missed my paints and brushes and looking at naked women, but I was making good money. I was respected at my job.

What I did not realize between the haze of alcohol, sleepless nights, lowered libido, and group meetings, was that I was miserably unhappy. This wonderful career job, good paycheck, and excellent networking position I had managed to land was among one of the stupidest decisions I had ever made. Life was fucking me over and I had not realized it. Perhaps worse, I was conning myself into believing that the money and the prestige made it all worth it, made it somehow okay. Who needs to be happy at work when you can afford happiness? Life was a bowl of won that I had in excess, isn’t it grand.

I had my epiphany sometime in March last year that I was in fact miserably unhappy and that no amount of living like this would make life better. It was two months before I had to make a decision to sign a new contract with the school. I considered the money and the prestige and the wonderful career I was giving up. I finally decided to leave.

Ah, but it’s not so simple. There is this fundamental programming that is hardwired into people who grew up outside of best case scenarios that is part survival and part power hungry need to be on top. The thought that money means happiness is never far from the deranged mind of those survivors. Knowing power means having power, those once weak victims think. Gaining power and wealth will make me happy and a better person. It is very difficult to turn around and let those things go.

I got conned by power. I got conned by money and I said yes to another year after I had convinced myself know. Mornings were spent on the shuttle bus from the company apartments to the island hell on the phone to the US bitching about my supreme hate for my job. And yet I went to work everyday, and play the game, and lied through my teeth about my interests in projects when in reality I wanted the paycheck and to be able to say that I worked for the English Gestapo in Seoul and isn’t that interesting.

Finally I decided to quit the job and get while the getting was good. But being stuck up and conceited and power hungry I would not quite for a job where I would receive less then I was making, or less power then I currently had. I found one too, in the city I wanted to be live in, near people I knew and liked. I quit my job for the prospect of new money and power, and in the end got fucked anyway. They didn’t want me, and I was floundering and two weeks from being unemployed and a flight home. I was freaking out, and feeling fucked, but for all the wrong reasons.

Before leaving Korea for a short vacation I signed a contract with a school that could not afford a great salary, where the conditions were abysmal, where the hours would be long, the pay slim, and the accommodations piss poor. I took it anyway, and what I have found since then, is that I am actually, for the first time in a year, quite happy.

In order to get this happy I had to say fuck it to a lot of long held beliefs and ideologies. I had to accept that fact that I am happier when I’m not making great money. I’m happy when I enjoy my work regardless, I’m happy when I’m loved by people who love me. I’m happy when I am not being fucked over by life, but when I just no longer care about life and all the ridiculous high and mighty ideals that I feel I should live up to.

In short, the motto of the day is fuck it, because at the end of the day, being who I am without restriction is so much better then being a person people want me to be. So fuck all the wonderful things that come from selling the soul, making a life, and all the other supreme bullshit that drives. It’s not a don’t worry be happy philosophy so much as a realization that happiness will never be all those things I dreamt about as a poor lonely girl growing up in squalor and stupidity. Happiness for me is embracing what I love and saying fuck to the rest.

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