If last year was a year of growth, I would say this year was a test of my endurance, patience, and self-assertion.
#1_ New Challenges
After getting comfortable (and jaded) at Weber Shandwick, I started searching for my next challenge. And boy, did I get myself into a massive one. In June I started my new job in marketing. And I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the difficulties I faced during my first few months on the job — the different style of leadership, lack of teamwork (and team members), and of course, the completely new kind of work I was doing.
I still don’t think a marketer can do PR, or that a PR person can do (or be happy doing) marketing. Nonetheless I am at a good place now at my job; I have the hang of things and know now how to solve problems, external and internal. And I really appreciate my boss, my team, and the things I am learning. I learn something new almost every day at my job. Interestingly, I think I am learning more about people than I ever have at work.
#2_ Hitting Rock Bottom (almost)
In September, while I was on a 3-week business trip in Hangzhou, I hit one of the lowest lows I’ve ever hit in my life.
Each time I go to Hangzhou on business, I get sick in one form or another. Usually it’s a cold. But in September, from the grueling orientation plus the late nights I spent working after training hours, I became very ill with an infected boil. I ended up missing more than half of one of my mandatory orientation programs.
When you’re really sick, you start thinking about what’s most important to you. And you focus on only that, because you’re desperate to hold on to something positive and uplifting. And the only thing I could think in my hotel room, unable to move or even sit up, was how much I regretted not becoming a journalist.
The week following that moment involved three Chinese hospitals, a pregnancy scare, and an attempt to quit my job. But I’ll save the details for another day.
#3_ 55 Hours of Alone & 72 Hours with You
In 2013, this blog was born from my project called 60 Hours of No Human Contact, wherein I cut off all human contact for 60 hours and focused on myself and my writing.
For the first time since then, I found myself desperately needing this space and time of my own, complete freedom from the daily struggles and pressures that were weighing me down.
So I took three days off work, rented an Airbnb called “Thinking House” in Namyangju (a suburb of Seoul), and disconnected. But this time, it didn’t have the same rejuvenating effect as it did in 2013. Here is an excerpt from my real-time log from those 55 hours:
Tomorrow before noon, I have to pack up, clean up my traces here in the Thinking House, and return to Seoul. This getaway was neither effective nor productive, as I mostly just miss my boyfriend. I called him crazy for telling me he loves me only after three dates, but this time apart has made me realize I love him, too.
And I understand now the power of love; I am no longer afraid of what my future holds, and I don’t think it really matters what I do for a living. My boyfriend gives me the confidence to do my job and be satisfied with it. Most of all, when I’m with him, I focus more on what I am outside of my job. He pays attention to the whole me, wants to get to know the entire me. He makes me pay attention to the aspects of myself that I sometimes ignore or overlook when I’m focused on work.
I am writing this now at a bar in Gangnam, entering my 73rd consecutive hour with you, counting down to midnight. Our belated Christmas weekend to make up for the actual Christmas that we didn’t get to spend together.
This adventure we are on together is another challenge that 2018 has brought to me: a challenge of a new kind that I am facing for the first time and still learning to maneuver.
Whatever happens, I am thankful for the punches life threw my way this year, because I know they are making me stronger.
Happy new year, everyone.