On Living, Pretending, and Other Musings

Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.

β€” Agnes de Mille

I won’t be staying another year in my current job, city, or country. For several weeks, I’ve been thinking about what will happen next. The uncertainty caused me a tremendous amount of stress. I either couldn’t sleep or slept too much. I didn’t go out with friends. I sat, transfixed in grayscale as the world passed me by in technicolor. I became bitter and hardened. And then Bali happened…

ubud rice fields

I met many wonderful people there who made me see the beauty of uncertainty. They made me face my fears, challenged what I previously thought to be true and helped me to embrace the temporary. For one short week, I learned to stop over-thinking and simply be. I learned that I can’t control anyone but myself. I learned that I’m stronger than I give myself credit. I was reminded of the vivacious, spirited, and beautiful woman who I used to be before relationships and credentials and doubt and fear and worry got in the way. I’m grateful that our paths have crossed. I’m better for it. But now I’m back in Korea…

cloudy korea

Sure. I’m softer, more pleasant, more open, more forgiving. But I’m still unsatisfied here. What was it about Bali that brought out the best in me? Was it the people I met? Was it the weather? Was it the newness? Will it be like that again when I return? I don’t know. What is it about Korea that doesn’t seem to agree with me anymore?

Here’s my guess at what’s going on… I came to Korea under false pretenses. Yea, the culture fascinated me and it looked like a great adventure. But if I’m honest with myself, I’ll admit that I came to Korea to run away from a failing relationship. I foolishly thought time and distance would magically make my partner come to his senses. So I pretended I was happy to have a job that only required the simplest of tools in my skill set because it would give me a better quality of life. I pretended that the money – or lack thereof – didn’t matter. And when things got really hard, I held on tighter to that relationship that made me run away in the first place – hoping that my grip would resurrect it somehow. I pretended that I was happy with our love, my job, and my life. On the occasion when I expressed my displeasure or discontent, I swallowed it quickly because it made other people more comfortable to be around me when I was happy and positive. And then Bali happened…


And now I am done pretending.


15 thoughts on “On Living, Pretending, and Other Musings

  1. Timah, I love the writing, and love having met you. On the horizon, I sense our feet will likely stand on shared ground, for there is truly something profoundly compelling in simply living, as we know is possible in fields of rice.


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