ESSAY V| My Unlucky Exit
This is the fifth of five essays written to summarize my first year working in Korea. I lived and worked in the most unusual environment of my entire life, and while I am grateful that I experienced a lot of uniquely difficult situations, it took a long time to conclude what it really is that I had experienced with 50 other foreigners. For those that experienced that year with me or for those who have always wondered what even happened to me that year— this is to enlighten you.
“I don’t know if you believe in a god or not, but I think that there may be some kind of force keeping you from being here— you are just so unlucky.” Those were the words I received when my boss told me that she was not letting me extend my year contract. It was a mere three months that I had requested, and the administration couldn’t allow me the extension. I’d lived and worked at this job as if it were a university instead of a workplace. It’d been the college experience I had never had, having attended a Christian university and abiding by their rules. Through the summer of my contract my lack of professionalism was at an all time low; drinking and clubbing on weekdays, running 4-5 minutes late everyday for class, and teaching the bare minimum with a hangover. Granted, I had never maintained professionalism even at my best, and I was at my worst at this job, but I kept excusing myself thinking, “everyone is at their worst here! This job is a joke!” Moreover, I was in the midst of my own personal crisis. Perhaps it was the distance from my community all the way in South Korea, where I had to face the realization how much I didn’t believe in a God that I had professed as mine, my entire life. I was angry that I had kept myself away from so many experiences. In those ten short months I had done so many things I had never felt free to do before. It was an exquisite feeling and that was the funnest summer of my life. Although I had partook in a lot more tawdry or delinquent extracurricular behavior before that summer, it was never done without the feeling of shame. That summer, guilt had vanished from my bones, and it was the feeling of “sinning” without fear that I couldn’t get enough of, and I didn’t! I reached an all time low at the end of September when the partying came to a screeching halt.
Maybe it was my lack of luck, but I drunkenly climbed into bed with the wrong boy. He was the despised Casanova of our compound, whom many girls seemed to take for a ride and become attached while he went on unscathed. There were far too many women in agony over this boy. I was behaving just like all the other girls flirting with him, in spite of myself, I was blushing near him while every inch of me was in want of his kisses. His boyish grin made my stomach leap. I couldn’t help inviting him to drink with me and my friends knowing the outcome would end catastrophically, I ignored my own intuition as well as my friends’. The last Friday of September was an eventful bash for numerous colleagues finishing their contracts–endless drinks, dancing, and eating were had, and like most drunken work parties, mistakes were made. All my flirtatious banter with this boy came to a rousing finish with kisses, cuddles, a bit of fooling around, and most of all pillow talk. As innocent the night was with him, too many co-workers had seen us, rather, seen me with a boy who was spoken for by numerous women– and I was all the talk on Monday morning. I was mortified.
I swallowed myself into a sea of black filled with self doubt, pity, and guilt. ‘Maybe I couldn’t manage life outside of the Ten Commandments and the Holy Spirit given peace’, was the fear that I had. I had never been the end of brutal rumors and gossip, and because I couldn’t hear any of them–my imagination ran wild keeping me in a state of anxiety and stricken panic every time I was around my colleagues. The demons of my depression rared their head with enticing thoughts of self hatred and self hurt to comfort me. My curtains were drawn in October both literally and metaphorically, and I couldn’t seem to remember how to breathe.
I woke to a loud knock on my door. I looked at my phone– it was dead. As I clamored through my smelly room filled with dirty clothes strewn about, rotting fruit all over my desk, shoes laid all over my sticky floor, I opened my door meeting the face of my boss– I had slept through the entire work morning. She was beside herself with anger, and all I could manage to mutter was, “I just woke up.” So with unkempt hair and dirty clothes, I ran to class to teach in a sleepy haze of dark sadness.
Three weeks later, I was sitting in my boss’ office, dizzy with shock and unable to fully grasp the words she was saying, as she laid out the details of the end of my contract. She wasn’t letting me stay. It wasn’t that I wanted to stay there– I had become a stranger to who I was. I hadn’t showered in weeks, I felt empty inside, and I was the joke of my cohort team. The sinking feeling I had was due to feeling singled out yet again. When the entire work place’s environment was one of partying and scandal, I couldn’t seem to manage it. All the while, majority of my drinking buddies and colleagues kept themselves under control and were able to extend their contracts. It felt unfair, and I felt I was on the precipice of unadulterated darkness having been forced to leave the new friends I had become very dependent on. Its funny that she brought up God because there at that job, was the beginning of my end with him. Many speak about the newfound freedom that comes when you walk away from religion, but in the beginning I didn’t know which way was right. I had an unknown sense of ethics and morality. I had no coping skills to deal with conflict. I had no sense of intuition outside of the Biblical idea of peace. Most of all, I no longer had the demand to live one way or another. After walking away from God— I was extremely lost, angry, and deeply depressed. Despite long, painful, and lonely months, it didn’t diminish the truth that I could not believe in the idea of God based on Christianity or any religion.
I may never know if the decision was out of my boss’ hands that day, or if she saw the cataclysmic ruin I had fell into, and extending my stay wouldn’t have been beneficial for me. Regardless of the reason, it was done and it was a very perfect representation of my time there. Unlucky; it was a bitterly unlucky year.