The One Where I’m Swimming

Today started as “fuck, it’s Monday” and is coming to a lovely end as “I’m ready for Tuesday.”

I’ve struggled with sleeping since coming to Korea – I’m not sure if it’s that my bed is a lot less comfortable (which it is), or that I’m stressed, or now if I’m coming up with some homesickness/seasonal depression. All I know is that I dream a lot at night and I never feel rested. Either I undersleep or oversleep, but it doesn’t matter, because I have the same work to do each day regardless, so I caffeinate and get on with it.

Between the lack of sleep and getting used to living in a new country and working a new job, one where I have to coordinate with four different teachers to make at least six different lesson plans, I’ve often felt stressed. Some weekends I go out with friends, a couple of weekends I have traveled, but more weekends than not I have spent in my apartment, sleeping and binge watching Gilmore Girls and trying to recover. I’m exhausted. But it’s okay, because days like today prove that I’m not just drowning in work, I’m managing to swim.

Today began as a sleepy sleepy Monday – so sleepy that I didn’t wake up until 7:28 – that’s 28 minutes after I’m supposed to get up. I worried about my tiredness in the coming day (I teach 6th grade all of Monday AND had an extra after school class) but somehow it worked out.

Most sixth grade classes were so focused on the activity that I didn’t have to yell today (a first in months), and only one boy really got me frustrated. My extra after-school class, despite being poorly planned at the last minute, actually went quite well, and the students cheered me up. And what feels the best is that after all of the teaching I came back to my office, asked myself what I need to do for tomorrow, and was able to do it in minutes. Photocopying, that was it. Everything else I need to do is for days ahead. I. am. stoked.

It’s like a weight is being lifted off of me, which is ridiculously dramatic considering I still have a long way to go and I honestly don’t expect this preparedness to last long, but that’s okay, I’ll enjoy it regardless. Today my to-do list consists of Wednesdays and Thursdays, not ASAPs. Today my to-do list isn’t smothering me.

I need to plan for other classes. I need to edit that video I filmed a month ago. I need to write my book. I need to research for my book. I NEED to study Korean. That’s okay, I’ll get it done. I’ll figure it out.

The weather is only getting more and more insufferably cold, and it’s making me worry about my mental health. This is the time when two things hit me: culture shock and seasonal depression, and both of those bring out my anxiety. So far the anxiety in Korea has been minimal – a fact which I am very grateful for. A huge part of my anxiety has always been the anticipation: will I get anxious if I go to that thing tonight? What if I break down on the bus?? I’m trying to ward those thoughts away. I’m trying to get on top of life. For the last eight months or so my mental health has been better than it had been in years, but I just looked back on my blog posts from this time last year, and I see all of these posts on Facebook from friends experiencing culture shock, and so I feel the fear beginning to brew underneath the surface.

It’ll be okay. Whatever happens, it’ll be okay. I have a lovely job, amazingly kind coworkers, and passion and a drive to pursue it. And I have days like today, where I can do anything.

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