Dealing With Feelings Post-Graduation + An Update On My Life in Korea

DSC_0160Somehow it’s been over a year since I graduated from university and since then I’ve had a roller coaster’s worth of highs and lows. I’ve been lucky enough to see some of the most beautiful places in the world, and to have found opportunities that I didn’t realize would be possible for me. I also spent several months working at a job that required me to serve people through a drive-through window in -25C weather while living back at home after 4 years of living on my own. Needless to say, in the past year I’ve felt on top of the world and I’ve felt totally distraught. I’ve felt hopeful and hopeless. I’ve felt confident and I’ve felt totally unsure of myself. I’ve felt so, so close to my loved ones at times, and at others I’ve felt very distant and lonely.

For me though, the good has far outweighed the bad. Even at my lowest points I still felt generally loved, supported, and grateful. Life has brought me wonderful experiences and opportunities that I never could have predicted or expected and that’s a pretty exciting thing. The past year has taught me so much about choice and acceptance and gratitude and being humble and staying positive and taking care of myself. It’s been difficult at times, but it’s also been so exciting to feel like I’m growing and making progress.

I try to be transparent on this blog and in my life because I think it serves precisely no one to pretend that everything is always great all the time. As you know, for the past three months I’ve been teaching English at a private school in South Korea. Yesterday, my boss told me that our school is closing down at the end of July. Everything is still very uncertain and confusing, but the gist is that I need to find a place to live and get a new job.  Yesterday I was mostly panicking, my brain going a mile a minute trying to figure out what my options were. I also spent quite a while in denial, hoping I’d wake up from a bad dream, and a bunch of time feeling sorry for myself. Today, I’m alternating between feeling totally overwhelmed and feeling like it’s going to be okay.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still upset and I’m still scared. Living in a country where you don’t speak the language is hard at the best of times and this, safe to say, is one of the worst things that can happen for a foreign teacher abroad…and I say that without any self-pity. And I know that it could be worse – some teachers get only a few days notice before their school closes, or turn up to find the school shuttered – in the grand scheme of things, my situation is better than some.

There is a lot I still need to figure out, but: I’m okay. I think I’m going to be okay. I think (I hope) that everything is going to work out. I can’t help but think that if this had happened to me right after graduating university I wouldn’t have been as well equipped to handle it. I’m proud to say that I haven’t completely fallen apart. After a minor panic attack in the bathroom, I reached out to my friends and acquaintances and asked them to put out feelers for me. I’ve been feeling all the crazy feelings I’m having (and I’m having lots of them) and putting them all out into the open where they seem smaller and sillier. I’m trying to square my shoulders and say “abundance abundance abundance” over and over and over to myself. I decided pretty early on that I was going to try to make this work, on my own terms.

I still don’t know how things are going to pan out. Like I said, there are lots of feelers out there, plus I’ve been researching lots of positions on the job boards and I’ve already heard back from one employer. I don’t know what my life is going to look like in two months, but this is a good reminder that nothing is ever certain or guaranteed. One year after graduating, I’m proud that I’ve grown into a person who knows she has a choice to either wallow and wring my hands or to react as gracefully as I can muster and take action.  I know that I can make the choice to be strong and generous instead of indulging the part of me that badly wants to use this as an excuse to be petty and small and selfish and to eat a lot of ice cream – which, let’s be honest, I still might do. I don’t always make the right choice every time, but I’m trying my best.

We recorded this episode of the podcast yesterday morning, before I found out that my school was closing. We talked about handling weird feelings that come up after graduating from university and going out into the “real world”. Little did I know the real world was going to feel so much more real in only a few hours!

The situation is scary and uncertain, but I’m trying to feel confident and to have faith even though I feel pretty overwhelmed. It helps that all my loved ones have nothing but confidence in my ability to handle this and to figure it out. They believe in me more than I believe in me, and while it’s hard to take their word for it, I’m trying. I’m trying to stay calm and fake it til I make it. Stay tuned.

  • Laura

    Sorry to hear about your school’s closure. I think everyone struggles post-grad when they face a lack of structure in their life and the future is so uncertain. It’s easy to feel alone in those feelings because all of a sudden you’re likely not living with your friends or talking to them everyday! Since I graduated university last April, I’ve lived at four different addresses with ten different roommates, completed one unpaid internship and two short-term job contracts, and am halfway through my third. I can’t commit to anything more than 4-5 weeks in advance, because I never know if I’ll still be in the same city and keep renewing my lease month-to-month.

    As a person who likes to plan, I find this inherently stressful and frustrating! But I agree – nothing is ever certain or guaranteed in life, and the best thing you can do as a recent graduate is learn how to adapt to change in a healthy way and try your best to have fun while riding the roller coaster. And know that everybody else is going through similar experiences and you’re not alone. As you mentioned, all this uncertainty can bring exciting opportunities and interesting experiences – I’ve done a heck of a lot in the last year, fulfilling my dreams to travel and gaining relevant career experience. I’m confident you’ll find another position in Korea soon and that everything will work out! Good luck!

    • stephaniepellett

      Hey Laura, thanks so much for your supportive comment. It’s always nice to be reminded that I’m not the only one going through stressful things and I’m certainly not the only one having crazy feelings about it all! That can be hard to remember when the going gets tough. I also like your perspective on embracing this constant change and uncertainty, it’s so true that it can bring about some awesome things as well. Anyways if you hadn’t already heard, I did find a new position here in Korea and while it’s coming with its own growing pains and stresses, it’s nothing I can’t handle. You’re so right that we have to learn how to adapt to change in a healthy way – easier said than done, but I totally agree. Thanks again for your support! And I definitely think that although the past year has had its ups and downs you have a lot to be proud of yourself for as well. You’ve done so much and gained so much experience! Bravo. :)

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