As a writer I view everything as a source of inspiration but I’ve started to wonder if I sometimes use observation as a way to detach myself from the world around me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very busy – I attend a lot of events and social engagements but in the past year, I’ve attended most of them as a writer or as the organizer. Now I love writing – and most of the functions I attend – but I think that sometimes I use it as an excuse to hide behind. But because I’m me… once this thought occurred to me, I had to examine it… and write about it. And yes, I see the irony in it.
But in examining whether I hide behind my writing at times, I realize that I do… a bit. I can even tell you why and it’s something that I’m having a hard time dealing with. Don’t you just hate it when you learn something about yourself that you’re not entirely happy with?
Bear with me while I explain… let’s go back in time to 2006. I’m living in Ulsan, Korea. It’s a smaller city of about 1,000,000 people (yep, that wasn’t a big city in Korea) with an even smaller foreign community. Foreigners – which meant me, among the few others – really stood out. Now I had no problem being the centre of attention but it was never something I craved. However, there was a faction of the foreign community in Ulsan that was nuts and not in a good way. I will never forget the mortification I felt when one of the crazies entered the small club I liked to dance in wearing nothing on top but duct tape. Yep, just one strip of duct tape across her chest (I don’t even want to imagine how painful it must have been to remove it).
As a foreigner, I always believed that you were an unofficial ambassador for your country – that so wasn’t the impression I wanted people to have of me or Canada. So I started to learn more about the culture I was already beginning to love. I did this not because I thought I would ever do anything as outrageous as duct tape girl but because I was genuinely curious and I wanted people to have a good impression of Canada (and to a lesser extent, me).
In the process of learning about Korea and Korean culture – and by living abroad in a country where I couldn’t blend in easily – I changed. I became just a little more socially conservative, in how I dressed, how I acted, and how I spoke. I flirted less.
By the time I moved to Seoul for my second year, I felt comfortable in Korea. While it will take me a lifetime to become fluent and understand all the nuisances, I had grasped enough to fit in. Okay, my auburn hair and freckles will always ensure that I was noticed as other in Korea, but my behaviour and dress meant that I wasn’t treated quite like some of the other foreigner accounts.
What I didn’t realize was that these changes were more lasting than I expected. I’ve lost the knack for flirting and I kind of miss it. But more importantly, I’m now much more comfortable in the background organizing an event and making sure everything runs smoothly, than in the spotlight hosting it. I tried to blend in so much; I think I’ve forgotten how to stand out. I’m more awkward at social or networking events which are predominantly new people than I remember.
Behind the pen – or rather my laptop – I’m extremely comfortable and can write about anything. But put me in a social situation – and many of the events I cover for Life’s an Adventure 2 are social – and I’m not as comfortable marketing myself or my site as I should be. So yes, I do hide – just a little – behind my writing. And it bothered me that I care so much more than I thought I did about what people think of me. I always thought the opposite.
But I believe that life is a work-in-progress and just like I adapted to Korea, I can adapt here to. The need is more subtle so I’m sure the change will be too. First step, talk to at least one new person at the next event. Second step, realize that there’s nothing wrong with standing out for a good reason.
In this journey we call life, what are you striving for? Me, I want to write full-time and fall in love with someone who loves me back. Both require me to go out and live life just a little more. So that’s just what I’m going to do.