An open apology to my textbook

I wouldn’t say I used to be afraid of failure. Like any enthusiastic teen, I saw life as a challenge and an opportunity all at the same time, and I almost reveled in the newness of adventure. I was passionate, and boy, was I determined. There was a glow to each new interest I acquired, and I felt compelled to finish what I started–dotting all i’s and crossing all t’s.

But lately, as I approach my twenty-third year of existence (twenty-fourth in Korea, but that’s another story) I’ve been noticing a lack of motivation towards things I used to find intriuging. There’s this void that I feel now. I wouldn’t say I’m not passionate, but rather, it’s more like an absence of drive. The push factor, the “umph” idea that so many things I enjoy used to possess now seems… obsolete. What’s wrong with me?

They say as you grow older, your love of childish concepts and adolescently-geared notions diminishes, and honestly, that thought terrifies me. Looking at the “adults” around me (I used quotes because, by societal standards, I, too, am an adult. But my bank account drastically tells me otherwise), I see this lack of empathy with young minds grow and foster distance between generations. Take my mother, for example. I love this woman to the ends of the Earth, but when it comes to connection between my brother (who just turned a grand ol’ thirteen-years-old this past July) and herself, something is missing. There is an absence of understanding, a gap in empathy. While I, myself, can still relate to my younger brother (I’m still considered a millennial, I’ll have you know) on a deeper level about issues such as his favourite show ending, or running out of data (#tragic), my mother seemingly cannot. And I don’t know why (well… maybe I do).

But this has got me to thinking–will I end up this way, too? Is this what the future has in store for little ol’ Jasmine? Because I’m starting to feel it.

In the past, my passion towards the Korean language was endless. I’m talking notebook pages filled with new vocabulary, and constantly pestering my boyfriend (who, if you don’t already know, is Korean) to help me translate phrases to write on my binder (most commonly “G-Dragon I love you” and “Big Bang are my everything.” Don’t judge me–I was 15). Everyday I was finding new ways to learn, to grow, and to achieve something that I was passionate about. I was motivated to study and to become fluent. Even last year, when I spent my summer studying the language at one of Korea’s best universities, there was still a fire inside of me that urged me forward. There was something and it pushed me, drove me to expand my knowledge.

So what the hell has happened?

Lately, I can’t seem to find any reason to pick up my self-guided textbook (which I specifically bought for this specific purpose because I knew I couldn’t take classes and I knew I wouldn’t be motivated). I stare at it, daily, as I’m getting ready to frequent my favourite local cafe, and I feel nothing. It sits there, and I almost feel sorry for it (how Canadian of me, eh?) because I have barely touched the poor thing in weeks. But why?

Fear. It is innate fear that is holding me back, and I didn’t realize it until today. As I sat in my classroom prepping for tomorrow’s classes, in the distance I could hear one of my fellow foreign English teachers conversing with our director in fluent Korean. And it hit me–I’m scared of never being good enough and being compared to other teachers, better teachers.

I know this seems backwards, but hear me out. For as long as I can remember, I’ve surrounded myself with supportive, encouraging people who have helped make my language learning journey amazing. But thinking back on it, I’ve always been the only person actually partaking in said language learning–everyone else has merely been observers. But now, I’ve surrounded myself with people, just like me, who are also running down this path to fluency. However, there’s a catch–these individuals have been here a hell of a lot longer than I have.

And yet, here I am, comparing myself in typical Jasmine fashion. (Oh, when will I learn).

I can’t do this though. If there is one thing I’ve learned, and I hope you can learn, it’s that we all work on different schedules, and are at different points in our, for lack of a better word, journeys. As much as I don’t want to make a book reference (but let’s be real, I’ve been dying to do it this whole time), we all are on different chapters in our lives. How can we compare chapter 2 of The Great Gatsby to chapter 14 of The Portrait of Dorian Gray (sorry, I had to)? You can’t, and just in the same way, I (and maybe you) cannot compare myself to others who are similarly learning this language as well.

I guess what I’m getting at is we all, at some point in our lives, need to take a step back and applaud ourselves. We’ve come a long way, and we still have further to go, but we really need to appreciate what we’ve accomplished so far. Let what you’ve become motivate you to continue growing, continue learning, and continue fueling that passion for what you love.

So on that note, I’m going to relieve that book from its misery over there, on my desk, and get back to making my goals a reality. And I suggest that you take a look at your shelves, dust off those forgotten dreams, and bring them new life once again as well.

Happy Wednesday, everyone.

Until next time,

Jasmine.

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Adulting

Well hey there, WordPress. It’s been a minute, hasn’t it?

Can you guess where I am? Well, if you’ve been following me for even a sliver of time, you’ve probably guess it–Korea. Yep, I’m back at it again in the land of the morning calm (and the best food in the world).

I’m currently here teaching English, which has been my plan since long before I entered university. It’s been a uphill battle thus far, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about, is it. A post on that will come a little bit later, but first, I have an announcement:

I’ve started YouTube.

Yep, you read correctly. I’ve started a little Vlog and lifestyle channel dedicated to showing the world Korea and all it’s splendour. Along with that, I’ve decided to blog more in my spare time (like today, for instance). My teaching schedule leaves me with mornings completely open, alongside Tuesday and Thursday evenings, so I’ve taken it upon myself to do something I actually enjoy doing–creating online content and telling stories. I figure, why not seize the opportunity?

So I’ll be taking you along with me through my random (but never mundane) adventures throughout Korea, both through written and visual accounts. Sounds fun, hey?

So stay tuned and for now, enjoy my latest no-talking Vlog from my weekend in Gyeongju!

Until next time,

Jasmine

Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V

I did it.

Just a few short days ago, I graduated. Parchment in hand, I set foot not only across a makeshift stage, but also into the world as a freshly bloomed alumni. Does that feel as weird to hear as it does to say?

Time, as I’ve talked about before, is such an interesting concept. Man-made, it sets the pace for our lives, keeping track of virtually all aspects that make up who we are. It even dictates and cultivates its own set of vocabulary, it’s own linguistic rules and regulations. Think about it–without time, where would we all be? Words such as yesterday, today, and tomorrow wouldn’t exist. The days of the week, our months, our minutes, our seconds, our hours–all would cease to be. Not only that, but even phrases as “the early bird catches the worm” or “beating the clock” would mean nothing. Crazy, isn’t it?

You know, I once read a book about the man who invented time. It was a fiction novella, of course, but the lesson it provided me with was anything but. The story followed the lives of several individuals, all of whom time had, for lack of a better term, screwed over in more ways than one. The father of time witnesses these individuals’ distress over their lifetimes, and comes to realize that his creation of time and measuring our existence on this planet was more of a hinderance than a crucial aid. While the characters of the book inevitably deal with time’s harsh blows in their own individual ways (with some taking much more serious measures than others), the novel’s message is that time, as much as we loath it, exists and must be perceived as a precious thing.

But the book got me thinking. What is time, really? They say as we get older, time goes faster, and boy, do I believe it. How am I 23 already? How have I graduated university? Sometimes, I just wish I could stop time, you know? Live in that moment. Go back to periods of my life that brought me joy. But then other times, all we want is for time to hurry the hell up and go faster already. We can never be satisfied. But isn’t that just so human?

The book’s message is exactly that: we always want time to act in our favour, but we never want to acknowledge it for what it is. Hours and days pass by at the same rate. Even if it seems long or short or somewhere in between, there are only 24 hours in a day. We may graduate, travel, work, live, play, or whatever it is we do with our time, but it is precious, and unlike that cheesy Adam Sandler (*shudder*) movie, we don’t have a magic remote control to stop, pause, rewind, or play when we feel the time calls for it.

In just the same way, I only had 15 seconds on that stage to transition from student to graduate. But it was those 15 seconds that changed me. Because time is a funny, wonderful, terrifying, unstoppable force that we cannot control. But we can control how we enjoy it and revel in its splendour.

Until next time,

Jasmine

It’s a little scary out there

Well, I did it. I officially applied for graduation and I’ve never been more terrified.

Honestly, this is not the reaction I was anticipating. Years ago, as I visualized clicking that exalted “Apply for Graduation Now” button on my student account, I imagined myself relieved, happy, and maybe, just maybe, even a tad bit hopeful. Hell, I imagined feeling anything other than this.

Because how I reacted to my application was anything but those 3 emotions listed above; instead, I cried.

Up until now, I had been excited about this next step in my life. I mean, I can’t stay in school forever, right? There’s a world out there, a world that I hope, to some extent, needs me in it.

But while a part of me thinks that, another part of me can’t let go of my past. I’m stuck in this position of trying to be positive about the future, trying to envision myself in a job, secure, working towards something larger. There’s fleeting moments of foreseen happiness that hit me sometimes, when I’m alone, on the SkyTrain or walking to class listening to music. I see it — my future. I see it clear as day and I get excited. Having a place of my own, working, living with my partner. Maybe we have a huge library in our living room, right next to the fireplace, and maybe I play old classic rock albums as we cook together on weekends, and maybe we go for walks along the water next to Science World, and maybe I have a designated coffee spot in Gastown where I edit my online magazine on weekday mornings, and maybe we go to fitness classes together downtown on Saturday mornings, and maybe I’m happy. Maybe.

But it’s those maybes that constantly build upon themselves, layer by dreaded layer, and construct my uncertainty, my reality, and my pessimism.

Because they’re just maybes.

They are the creation of the world’s most resented word — maybe. Those 5 letters hold so much unpredictability, so much potential doubt that I never let get to me before. In the years of my teens, I never let the word maybe scare me to the extent that it does today. Maybe held promise. Maybe I’d get into university and write for the student newspaper. Maybe I’d land that internship and be on my way to becoming the next Anna Wintour. Maybe I’d nab that scholarship and half my tuition would be paid for. Maybe. There was hope and there was light in that word for my pre-undergraduate self.

Now, I can feel myself becoming like my mother, her realist, grounded ideals bubbling up inside me. “Was she right?” I constantly ask myself. Was this school, this major, this life, this path the right thing? Because maybe I made a mistake. Maybe I overestimated my abilities. Maybe my head was too high in the clouds, my mind too far into my dreams to see how the world really is. Maybe I reached to high, shot for the moon and didn’t even reach the atmosphere.

But maybe, just maybe, I can find my way back to that old self. Maybe the future isn’t that scary and I need to believe. Believe — my favourite word. Much like maybe, there is promise and hope in believe. The beautiful distinction between the two, however, lies in the lack of a negative quality in believe that maybe will always possess.

I may never know what 2017 or 2018 or even 2040 has in store for me, and as much as I hate to say it, that scares the hell out of me. But someone very close to me once said that in order to grow, we must be comfortable in our discomfort. And in order to do that, I must confront those maybes head on, and start believing that something is out there and it’s waiting for me.

So, my friends, here’s to turning those maybes into believes.

Until next time,

Jasmine

Some endings and some beginnings.

It feels a bit nostalgic to be writing here, at the end of what is to be my university career. It’s nostalgic because this blog started when my journey through academia began, back when my hair was shorter, clothes louder, and personality bordering on unstable. You could say I was lost, and through this blog I began to find my way. Well, kind of.

There was something about putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys) that put order in my life. When everything seemed to up in the air (grades, friends, future, and all that good stuff), this blog brought my thoughts back down to earth. I began to explore my interest in fashion, and I was finally able to put my writing out there for others to experience. It was nerve-wracking, but I needed that exposure, even in its minuscule state, in order to learn about myself.

Looking back, I can’t believe I’ve made it this far. While there are moments I wish I could go back and change, I can’t say I regret a single thing about my time in university. This is unbelievably cliche, but these experiences have shaped who I am today and have brought me this far. Even within the past year I’ve felt myself grow, letting go of ideas, people, things, and stresses that first-year me would have never been able to cut ties with. These might seem insignificant, but they’re profound steps in my eyes. Realizing my needs and putting my wants at the forefront, as hard as that has been, has been life-altering. There is something about opening your eyes and seeing yourself in relation to the world that changes you, right to the core.

I wouldn’t say I’m a completely different person, nor would I argue that I’m prepared for what comes after I cross that infamous stage in June. What I can state with all certainty, though, is that I’m on my way to where I want to be, as vague and ambiguous as that sounds. And that’s enough for me.

So what’s next? Who knows. While I will keep this blog going and hopefully update more frequently that before, I want to focus my efforts on future opportunities in publishing and writing. And yes, I plan on pursuing even more education in the upcoming years, namely a Master’s degree and an editorial certificate. But all in good time. For now, I’m just going to enjoy this last semester in undergraduate studies, attend a few K-pop concerts, fangirl to my heart’s content, spend as much time with my friends as possible, and keep on exploring. Because that’s all I can do right? Celebrate the now and look forward to the future. Oh, and believe. Always, always believe.

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Until next time,

Jasmine

It feels a bit nostalgic

Being back home is harder than I had anticipated. Sure, I knew what I was in for, but I don’t think I was capable of fathoming this level of dejection, rejection, and emotion. It’s been hard to say the very least. All the growth and progress I had made being abroad for the past four months seems to have fallen at the wayside, and I’m left feeling alone, abandoned, and utterly confused. But amongst that internal chaos and coming to terms, I’ve started to understand what letting go feels like. And much like my previous revelations on being OK, I feel this needed to be documented, for both my sake and that of others.

I think I need to let you go because it’s obvious you don’t want to stay.

And that’s fine.

I think I need to let go because this push and pull is driving me insane.

And that’s fine.

I think I need to let this go because growth is the motto for this new year.

And that’s fine.

I think I need to let go because it’s hurting too much to hang on.

And that’s fine.

I think I need to let it go because you’re not holding on either.

And that’s fine.

I think I need to let go because we’re different, now, then we were before.

And that’s fine.

I think I need to let them go because times have changed and so have I.

And that’s fine.

I think I need to let go

for me
for you
for them
for us
for I
and me
and you.

 

Until next time,

Jasmine.

A little about passion

Home at last.

This past week has been a long string of goodbyes, hellos, and final paychecks. I left residence for the summer, saying my farewells to friends I will reunite with again in the fall, and others who I may not see for quite awhile. In both cases, it was tough. I don’t do well with departures, and this time was no exception. There’s just so many expectations and emotions; I get lost in the crossroads. But I did it and I survived, all 5’1 of me. It was a miracle, to say the least.

My co-op ended on a good note, and I left my cubicle for the last time on an accomplished high. I’ve learned so much about myself, what my goals are, what I like (and, you know, what I absolutely loath), and what I’m passionate about. That last one really became prominent as my term was wrapping up, because I’ve come to realize that work and passion can coexist and complement each other. Shocker, I know.

Passion is such a funny thing, isn’t it? There’s so much power to it. Passion is the driving force behind change and innovation, and it’s astounding to see where it takes people. As someone who revolves my life around my passions, I really love admiring this trait in others. One of my fellow co-workers in residence and close friend is immensely passionate about travel, urban planning, and Hong Kong. It’s inspiring to watch him take those three ingredients and shape a future for himself around them. He’s got such a drive, such a fire inside of him that I truly envy.

I guess it’s friends like this who have opened up my eyes to the possibilities of passion. I never really saw a parallel between my passions and my future career endeavours. They may have crossed paths once in awhile, but they were never running on the same track. The two were never friends, but rather, acquaintances who knew each other only on the surface. You know, that “I’ll make a pun and you’ll laugh and you’ll think I’m funny but you don’t even know where my hometown is” kinda acquaintances.

But this semester, whilst embarking on an adventure through the world of co-op and micromanaging my life, I realized that my passions CAN be at the forefront of my future. I just have to have faith in myself and believe that what I love to do can help me make a career for myself. So I’m going to go out there and write like no one is reading, discussing topics I love, and see where it takes me. You can bet your tuition that it’s going to be challenging, and this blog will more than likely be filled to the brim with endless accounts of me struggling. But I want to write about what I know and love–fashion, music, communication, and Korea. So I’m taking one hell of a chance, and putting my heart where my fingers are (does that even make sense?), to utilize my passions into something beautiful.

I guess you could say I’m inspired.

Until next time,

Jasmine.

It’s about damn time.

If you had asked me a year ago where I would have been today, I probably wouldn’t have known. And this is an odd thing for me. You see, plans are like my life source. I live and breathe checklists and itineraries and googling grad school options till 3 in the morning. I plan. Every single detail of my existence.

But the thing about planning is that life, like many other things in our universe, is completely and utterly unpredictable. Jobs fall through, friends leave, opportunities open up. So no matter how detailed I could have planned my life a year ago, I would still more than likely be someplace else.

And, if I’m honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I know I haven’t updated this blog in what feels like a century, and there’s reason behind it. For the past 11 months (WOW. Time flies) I have been meeting new people, creating community within my university, taking on a marketing job, cultivating existing relationships, discovering myself, and, you guessed it, planning. I have been restlessly scheduling and coordinating my next adventure for this summer. And can you guess where I’m headed?

Well, if you know even the slightest detail about me, I’m more than positive you figured it out–Korea. That’s right, I’m headed back to the beautiful peninsula that captivated my soul and stole my existence (did I mention I’m dramatic?). I will be spending my summer in the humid climate of Seoul while I attempt to rebuild what was my ability to speak the Korean language through taking evening classes at Sogang university.

I think my realization about planning and its faults has been a product of this new adventure because for the life of me, I cannot nail this trip down. Whenever one thing goes right, another goes utterly wrong. I go from being elated about an apartment being available, to finding out I can’t apply for the visa I need. And it’s been like this the whole way through, riding the waves of anticipation, happiness, then slight to severe disappointment.

Organizing this trip has been a lesson in growing up, toughening up, and embracing the difficulties. I needed this. For so many years I have tried to dictate and structure my life to meet the standards that I had set, feeling like I had to contort myself into a certain mold and live that way. That’s not a life. That’s a performance. A heavily rehearsed, memorized play in which I am the actor. And yes, if you must know, there is even a musical number (though only 1 because my singing is horrendous).

What I have realized is that this is not living. In order to truly elevate myself and become the individual I aspire to be, I need to embrace change, roll with the punches, and come out on top. I think it’s moments or events like these that really show you who you are, how you work, and what needs to improve.

So I’ve come to love the unexpected and I’ve learnt that I am resilient when my ideas don’t become a reality. It’s okay.

And so I’m looking forward to this new adventure (D-29 days!) with my neck rest, map, and positive outlook in hand. And you can bet your next paycheck that I will be documenting everything on my blog. So stay tuned!

Until next time,

Jasmine.

 

Watching the Clock

Here’s the funny thing about anticipation: it never leaves. It keeps building and building as the days go by, driving you utterly insane. It’s like time cannot go by any slower, the hours will not speed up, and days feel like forever.

I have done everything in my power to distract myself from the gnawing sensation of my impatience, from writing to studying Korean, but nothing helps. I mean, why can’t it be the middle of August already? Why do I have 4 more work days? Why can’t I be done now?

In the meantime, though, I have been working on my exchange blog that I will be updating while I am over in Korea for the fall semester. I feel like having that space to share my life and my adventures through text, photos, and videos will really be rewarding at the end of my adventure. Something for not only my friends and family to enjoy, but also a way for me to preserve that experience for myself, so that in, say, 10 years I have something to look back on to refresh the memories. I want my life to be memorable, so I will do whatever it takes to make that come true.

Until next time,

Jasmine

p.s.

Here’s the link to my exchange blog: somethingseoulful

Two more weeks, just two more weeks.

The difference between my life right now and my life before is the Cold War versus a day at Disneyland. Before, things were happening. Life was bright, exciting, and memories flourished. Now, here I am, sitting here, waiting for something, hell, anything to happen. I only have a number of days left in this suburban wasteland where mediocrity and racism prevail, but I feel like these hours, these weeks are dragging. Time is holding back from me, refusing to give me what I so incredibly yearn for: freedom.

The anticipation of arriving home and sleeping in on my own bed has driven me to the point of excessive packing. I am literally living out of my suitcase, unable to tame the mad thoughts of “two more weeks, just two more weeks” from creeping into my every waking hour. It’s hard. I don’t really know how to combat this type of longing. But maybe, somewhere hidden in these next few days of working and planning, I will finally find peace.

(but most likely I’ll just have to wait until I am safely on that air plane, with the destination of Vancouver, BC, flashing on the screen in front of me.)

Until next time,

Jasmine