My Musings on Dating

I have about three months before I turn 27 and I have some things to say about dating:

Dating is hard.

Maybe it’s because my free time is limited or because I moved to a new place and I don’t have an ongoing social scene. Heck, maybe it’s my more introverted “too many new people makes me a bit crazy” personality but no matter the reason, I come up with the same conclusion: Dating is HARD.

Not every woman or man at this age is looking to play around or date ever so casually. Not all of us can simply “not think about it too much” or “not feel anything”.  Some of us are really wanting a genuine connection with someone special and for some of us that never actually seems to happen.

Some of us are always having to deal with the question “So why don’t you have a boyfriend/girlfriend” and/or “Are you ever going to get married?” like men/women magically fall from the sky and are perfect for us. ( Newsflash to the people who ask these questions: STOP. STOP making single people explain themselves to you. THEY owe YOU not a single explanation for their lives.) 

What really makes dating difficult is that little part of your brain that keeps the compatibility scorecard. I honestly think everyone has this part in their brains, but some of us think of it way more often.  This is the part of your brain that will ask ” but what do we really have in common and is that enough to sustain ANY sort of relationship?” Your scorecard has to be realistic but not to the point of where you’re bored in your relationship. This scorecard contains all your “deal-breakers” and the things you can negotiate and compromise on.

And you know what?

Your scorecard can and often will change with time and experience. So what you tolerated in your college relationship at 20, might not be something you are willing to deal with at 25.

Right now, at 26, I’m watching  many of my friends re-negotiate their scorecards and other who have found the balance they’re looking for and settled into great relationships.

While I wish I could say I have all this figured out, I don’t. I’m not sure when I might have it figured out. I try not to put a deadline on my personal development but it’s hard when you’re watching people fall in love and build lives together (thanks social media).

So again I say : Dating is hard and I don’t know if it ever gets easy.

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On the Beginning of My Batman Fandom…

Those of us who were lucky enough to be born in the early 90’s probably remember watching Batman the Animated Series (BTAS). This show was my very first introduction to the iconic comic character and I was HOOKED!  The show debuted back in 1992 and it was like no other in its time! It was dark (in both the tone and literally-having its own style of animation referred to as “Dark Deco”) and it was psychological and mature and most of all, this show had Batman running from actual bullets (from actual guns-which doesn’t happen in cartoons nowadays).  If you haven’t re-watch this show as an adult,  find it online and get ready to re-discover something amazing!

I was a bit too young to watch it when it first arrived on the screen but I did, however, have the benefit of catching the show in reruns (and new episodes until ’95) . Somewhere in those years, when the show was airing on Cartoon Network, I saw the one episode that explained how Bruce Wayne’s parents died and how that led him on the path to becoming the Batman. That episode was emotional (to say the  VERY least) and for some kids, it was probably a bit frightening.

For me, however, there was a connection! It’s so hard to explain now, but I can still remember the feeling I got from watching that episode. I understood that you didn’t need any powers to be a hero and that even with the darkest and most tragic of experiences in life, you can do great things. As I got older I understood that everyone has some darkness in them and we don’t necessarily have to fear it if we learn to channel into something positive.  My three year old self probably thought something like “Batman had really bad things happen to him but he grew up and helped others with no special powers”- but whatever the thoughts I had, I was forever a fan after seeing that one episode!

After BTAS, I watched other shows like Batman Beyond, Justice League, Teen Titans, The Batman, Young Justice and the list goes on and on. Since comic books weren’t available to me as a kid, the animated series of DC comics were my introduction to the DC Universe. There’s a reason why I always thought John Stewart (aka the Black Green Lantern) the original Green Lantern  and that’s because the character was featured in Justice League.

So that’s my story! I was a nerd before I knew what the word even meant and that continues today…

The only thing that rivals my love of Batman is my love of Harry Potter and that is another blog post for another day!

 

 

Take a peek into my TaLK life!

Maybe you’ve wondered what there is to do while living on a small island in South Korea…Well here’s a video that shows a few of the (fun) things I’ve done between Spring and Fall 2015. (More videos to come soon) 

Enjoy and leave a comment below! Could you live the Jeju Life?

Click Here —> My TaLK Life Video

My Honest, HONEST Feelings about Dating in Korea

Warning!!!!

If you are highly sensitive about race and gender (and the intersections between the two) this post may not be for you! For those who are open to understanding the dating game in Korea for Black women (from what I’ve observed after a year here) please read on and comment below! (Keep in mind I don’t live in Seoul. I live in a small city and other cities may be different) (For tips on dating in Korea as a Black woman see my last paragraph)

One of the FIRST things I noticed when I moved here was the (foreigner) male infatuation with Korean women. It started with the constant talk about how Korean women are beautiful or sexy or sweet (etc.) and how foreign men dreamed of  dating them. When you live abroad in Korea, Korean women are considered some sort of prize to be won. While for many guys, dating a Korean woman is a bragging right, something to high five and something to boost their egos, to others Korean women are datable because they simply are KOREAN and KOREAN= WORTHY in their eyes. 

On the other hand, many Korean guys want to date white women, simply because they are white women. I’ve seen no other reasons given for this dating preference. No Korean guy has ever said “Oh I date white women because they have this set of characteristics that no other group of women possess.”  The whiter, blonder, and blue eyed the woman, the more likely the Korean men are to jump up and want to date her and often, it’s considered more acceptable to date a white person if a Korean wants to date a foreigner. (Notice how many white dancers and actresses are featured in Kpop videos)

Now, with all that said, where does that leave a Black woman in the dating game in Korea? Well, oftentimes both situations leave us out completely. While Korean women and white women will receive a man’s interest simply for being Korean and white, the same sort of attention and consideration is not passed along to Black women. Now, this is not to say that my friends and I want to date some foreigner or Korean man with a Black girl fetish or simply because they want an ego boost.  This is to say that we want to be considered simply because we are human beings. We want to be considered because we are interesting people with great personalities. We don’t want to constantly be overcoming barriers that no other group of women has set before them.

Oftentimes, I feel that where white and Korean women are offered love simply because of who they are, Black women must constantly be trying to prove our value to everyone to be offered any sort of love. We have to prove we are NOT the stereotypes that many people hold about us. It’s almost as if I need to hand out resumes to make men understand that I have value too! It’s beyond annoying!

As my friend likes to say “I’m an awesome person, why can’t that just be enough for guys?” – Honestly, I don’t know why we have to work so hard as Black women to be seen as worthy of consideration as possible dates or partners. It’s an issue we experience at home in the U.S., but in the small foreigner community in Korea, we feel it with a stronger sort of intensity. Seriously, I’ve had to endure stories about how awesome a guy’s ex Korean girlfriend was or how many dates with Korean women they’ve had or are going to have. While most people will say “Everyone is entitled to their preferences” or “It’s really not as bad as you make it out to be”, I say “Well, do you want to constantly be considered a last resort for romantic relationships?”

None of this is to say that I’m bitter for being single in Korea. I am just pointing out what I’ve seen here. My main goal for coming to Korea was to teach English and I’m happy I’ve been able to do that this long. As a 25 year old person, however, I do expect to be able to date sometimes and being in a place where that isn’t really possible is frustrating. If I was planning to stick around Korea for another year or so, I’d consider moving to a bigger city where there are more options for friendship and dating.

Tips:

So if you are a Black woman planning to come to Korea, don’t let this be a discouragement. Be aware of the issues you may face and also know that if you live in a bigger city (Daegu, Seoul, Busan, etc) your dating prospects will most likely be more open. Also, consider learning Korean, because that will also open up more possibilities for you. Don’t simply come to Korea because you want to date here. Come here with a purpose so that if the dating game proves to be dead, you still want to be in Korea! Also know that you are valuable simply as a human being and remind yourself of this every single day and surround yourself with people who do the same! 

What Teaching Has Taught Me

I’ve always talked about what South Korea (or Korean culture) have taught me since arriving in this country in July 2014, but I haven’t really reflected on what teaching has taught me.

So here are a few things that teaching has taught me:

  1. Kids are kids, no matter where you go- I’ve heard many English teachers say that when they decided to come to Korea to teach family and friends said something like “Oh you’re going to Asia? The kids are going to be quiet, smart, and well behaved all the time,”. Okay, truth time- Korean children are just like the children you’ve observed in your home country and culture. They are loud and energetic and they want to have FUN! Luckily, I came into a teaching program that told me “You’re going to teach in the country/rural area. The kids will have big personalities,”- and for me, that has been a wonderful experience.
  2. Teaching is hard but it’s awesomely rewarding too- Teaching children to speak English is difficult sometimes. Since I don’t speak Korean, I have to rely on examples, repetition, acting, making silly sounds, singing silly songs, and anything else I can come up with. I also have to rely on the help of my Korean co-teacher, who assists with translations and class management.  There are challenges in the classroom. A kid may not understand the material or they’re tired and don’t want to participate. I’ve dealt with tears, angry outbursts, and meltdowns too. But for all the difficulty teaching has presented, I can say that it’s a wonderful feeling when your students actually understand something new or you see their ability to speak and understand in English begin to grow overtime. It’s the days when you say something in English to a kid, thinking that they won’t understand, only for them to answer you. As one of my most energetic third graders has said (in Korean to my co-teacher) “I understood what Tabitha teacher told me to do”. He couldn’t respond in English but he comprehended enough to follow my directions with no help or translation. And trust me, for a kid who jumps off desks and runs laps in my classroom at 9 am, that made me feel great!
  3. When you teach, you will feel OLD!- My students are the MASTERS of making me feel old! I keep telling myself “I am NOT old! I just graduated high school 7 years ago! Things haven’t changed that much right?” Well, turns out things have changed that much. I asked my 5th and 6th graders when they thought the very first IPhone was made and they said “2002”. These kids think smartphones have been in existence for as long as they have been. They have no idea that Spongebob Squarepants has been on air longer than all of them have been alive (whereas, I still remember its debut on Nickelodeon). They don’t understand why old flip phones did nothing but call people. They also don’t understand why I’m outraged at them having smartphones in the 1st grade (I didn’t get a flip phone until 16!). And most of all EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVE SO MUCH TECHNOLOGY, THEY STILL DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH IT.  I still have to say “Hey why don’t you use that translator app on your phone to help you write in English,”- they understand smartphones are for playing games and texting friends, but they’re still kids. They still don’t understand the amazing technological capabilities they carry around in their pockets every single day.
  4. Teaching has taught me to love the “little kids”- Before coming to Korea, I was extremely concerned about teaching elementary school students. Before even applying, I always saw myself working with high schoolers because, in my mind, little kids where just not much fun. Now, I love the little kids. I love teaching the ABCs and shapes and colors and watching my students learn to say their first English phrase and be able to answer their first questions in English. It’s amazing! The enthusiasm of a first grader is contagious! It MAKES you want to work hard to teach and engage them! And hey, they’re also the only students who tell me they love me on a regular basis. AWWWW <3!
  5. Teaching and education make you a critical thinker– I’m always considering the “why” of things- it comes naturally to me. Teaching makes you consider the very purpose of education. You find yourself wondering why what you are teaching is important and how will it help your students throughout their lives. You are constantly thinking about your lessons and how they will help your students learn the material, and even why that material is important in the first place. Teaching is very much a field for critical thinking and learning new skills and new ways to help your students.

So there they are. These are a few things I’ve learned from teaching English in South Korea over the last 15 months!

Journaling: Why is it important to me

I’ve been journaling in some form or another since I was 10 years old. I got my very first journal back then and I’ve been using this method of stress relief and self-reflection ever since then. As a kid, I didn’t always know how to express myself, but sitting down with a journal and writing really helped me express my emotions better.

Here’s a few reasons why I enjoy journaling:

  1. I find the process of taking time and writing (or typing if it’s an online journal) extremely peaceful. It’s the ultimate form of “me” time and I can be honest and write about whatever I want.
  2. Journaling allows for self-reflection- well, if you take the time to read over your old entries from time to time. Often times we have thoughts and issues in our lives that are reoccurring, yet we don’t take time to reflect on them. When you write about those thoughts and issues in a journal, you are free to go back and reflect on them and you can realize patterns in your thoughts/behaviors you may not have realized otherwise.
  3. Sometimes I sit down to write one thing and I end up writing about something else completely- sometimes you will spontaneously write about something in your journal. It may not be what you wanted to write about in the first place but often times you’ll find that it’s just as important as what you were going to write about in the first place.
  4. I can write as often or as little as I please- I make my journaling habits very non-judgmental. I have no set schedule for writing in my journal. As I get older, there are not very many areas of my life that are not on some sort of schedule, so being able to freely journal as I choose gives me a great sense of freedom.

So there are a few reasons why I enjoy journaling. If you’ve never tried journaling, give it a try! Remember your journal is your free space, so do with it as you please! Feel free to draw, write, use song lyrics or whatever else helps you express yourself!

What Korea Has Taught Me #2

Oh Korea! We’ve almost been together for a year haven’t we? Our relationship isn’t always perfect but we have great times!

So what has Korea taught me lately?

Korea has taught me that I must have time for myself and developing my sense of self! I must take time to meditate, enjoy the little things, and be very conscious of my relationships with other people.

Yes, I know this sounds silly. I mean, haven’t I always enjoyed life, meditated and been conscious of my relationships? In a way, yes I have, but in other ways Korea has provided me a unique space to really look deeply at these three things.

1. Enjoying Life- I live on an island and it’s considered the most beautiful place in Korea, with thousands of tourists traveling here every year. Instead of looking for a bar or club to go to, my friends and I are happy to head to the nearest beach, climb the nearest oreum (Korean name for a volcanic hill) or mountain, or just walk around discovering new parts of the city or island itself.

2. Meditation- While I grew up in a religious home, in my opinion the art of meditation and journaling was overlooked in my childhood church experience. When my mind feels heavy, I try to take a step back and really survey what’s bothering me and I often do this by writing in my journal. Sometimes I sit down to write one thing and end up writing something else, giving me new insight on the issue that is troubling my mind. Meditation is still very new to me, but taking quiet moments to breathe and think seem to help me reduce my stress levels.

3. I have to be Conscious of my relationships with the people around me- We often take our friendships for granted. I was very guilty of this before coming to Korea. I have an amazing group of friends and coming to Korea (and dealing with tons of new people) made me survey why I appreciate those people I call my friends and what my criteria for friendship is. Not every person I’ve met in Korea is my friend; some people are just acquaintances and some are not meant to be in my life and that’s okay! That’s how life works!  Often times in the age of Facebook will make us feel guilty for not considering someone a “friend”. Let me be the one to warn you: don’t allow yourself to accept mediocre friends into your life. It’s not worth it in the long run and you will be disappointed when those mediocre friends don’t truly care about you. Real friendships are so much more than clicking “like” buttons and posting cute pictures online.  I also learned that sometimes your family relationships will need adjusting while you travel abroad.  I’ve learned to be careful not to let one or two people control how I view my family members and to actually reach out to family members and try to see  things from their points of view. I may not always agree with them, but I will listen to them (unless the conversation takes a prolonged negative tone and then I will cut that off).

 

Living abroad has truly given me the time to survey my life in a way I never had time to do in college or graduate school. As people, we are very busy, but taking time to survey yourself and where you are currently (along with your successes or things you want to change) will help you reach more of your future goals. So stop and relax sometimes because in those moments, you may find your next inspiration!

 

I plan to write more about the power of the journal soon, so check back if you’re interested in how keeping a journal can help you!

 

SAMSUNG CSC
     The Natural Rock Pool- Fun and Scary at the same time!
Seogwipo-si, Jeju Island
Seogwipo-si, Jeju Island