Saturday, November 19, 2011

My Birthday (25th)

Sometimes I think that I'm putting up a really skewed view of my time in Korea because I seem to be mostly writing about bad things when I write at all. Which is really untrue, my time here has been mostly filled with amazing experiences and I've probably grown the most in two years I've been in Korea than at any other time in my life. I truly gained my independence here and have matured into a real live adult onto my birthday which shows that even with the bad experiences, over everything, Korea has given really wonderful friends.

Birthday's tend to be a big deal, and while I love making my friends have really amazing birthdays I don't really like to celebrate mine, don't get me wrong I enjoy being made to feel special but a couple of things that inherently come with birthdays just end of taking away from the experience. I've never really dreaded birthdays, in fact I've always looked forward to it except this year. Preceding my birthday my friends all keep asking "Are you excited for your birthday?" to which I would reply "yeah..." not because I wasn't but because I wasn't thinking overly much about it, but then they would invariably reply "WHAT? Holly it's your TWENTY-FIFTH birthday! You have to be excited, it's such a big birthday. You have to enjoy it," or something along those lines . Which A put the pressure on to have a good time and B made me realize that I'm turning twenty-five and that the blind youthful ability to have fun without really worrying about the consequences is gone. I do realize as I'm writing this, that when I look back on it in the future I'm going to shake my head at my youthful ignorance in thinking that turning 25 was a bad thing, but I'm far removed from that moment at the moment.

Now I've always said I would be a horrible salesman, I don't like making people do what they don't want to do, and convincing (or at least trying to convince) someone to buy something seems like the epitome of that. Another example would be missionaries, I really think that the whole concept of what missionaries do is awful, now I do think they help people but the idea that they just go to another place where people have their own culture, their own belief systems, their own history that has influenced their society and say what you believe, what you know, what you've been taught and what you are doing are wrong, I know the right way, I have seen the light and I will help you, I will build schools, I will feed the poor but it is contingent on you learning about the true God. It just seems like such unmitigated arrogance to think you know better than someone else when really you are as much a product of your circumstances as they are, meaning you are religious purely because you were raised that way and if you had been born and raised in say India more likely than not you would be hindu, but I'm digressing. Simply put I think people should be free to make their own personal decision and I don't like having to make those decisions because it shows a lack of regard for the opinions of others which bring us back to the main topic, birthdays.

Now birthdays are suppose to be all about the birthday person as it should be. You go where that person wants, eat what that person wants to eat ect. So my birthday fell into two parts, on Friday my friends spent the night, we ordered food, played games, ate delicious homemade peanut butter chocolate cupcakes and blueberry cake, talked, played more games and basically it was low pressure and fun. Saturday we went out to Hongdae to go dancing and that is where the problems (purely of my own making) began. Now I love dancing so it seemed like a good way to celebrate my birthday, but I had no preference for either food or which bars to go to. I wasn't particularly craving anything beside that it be hot (it was freezing last night), so when I asked my friends what they wanted to eat all I got was the standard birthday answer "whatever you want," which is what I would have said as well. Now here's the thing, my friends are picky so I know if I had picked a place they didn't like they would have happily gone because it's my birthday, but they wouldn't have enjoyed the food which plays directly against my making people do things they don't want to do aversion and since I didn't have a preference and no one would give me an opinion I felt anything I picked would have been bad. So that brought my mood down. Next came the bars, hongdae can be really hit or miss and we tend to go to the same places so I did want to try something new but wasn't sure where when I asked what people wanted again it was "whatever you want." So I picked a bar that I had once heard was good but it ended up being the skankiest hole I've been to in Korea, but we stayed for a while even though I didn't really like it because, A I'd said wanted to go there and my friends knew that and pretended to enjoy themselves even though I could tell they didn't like it and B I didn't know where else to go and no one would give me an opinion about what they wanted to do. The next 2 bars we eventually went to were fun at times but in general were filled with really creepy people. To top everything off my friends had given me a list of ten task that I needed to complete and weren't hard at all, but I just wasn't in an outgoing mood, and didn't want to interact with the creepy people but felt obligated to complete the task and felt it put unwanted pressure on me to do something I didn't want to do, so instead of enjoying myself I focused on my inability to complete the tasks only three of which I did which made me feel bad for disappointing my friends.

At around 2:30 we decided to call it a night (which shows you how bad it was going cause typically we stay past 4:00 and we had actually had plans to meet a friend who couldn't come out, at 4 am for breakfast but canceled that in order to go home early). So we took a taxi back and all I could think was how happy I was that it's finally over. When I got to my apartment I tried my lock about 10 times but it wouldn't open so I had to go downstairs and get my building manager who didn't understand what I was saying but who I at least got to follow me. I called my friend to help me translate but as I was getting in the elevator the door started to close before the building manager could get on so I automatically grabbed the doors to stop them from closing dropping my phone which decided to bypass the floor and head directly to that crack between the elevator doors and the building floor like it was meant to be. I stared for a while at the crack then turned to my building manager asked him what we should do, to which he replied with a shrug and mumbled something about tomorrow morning. We continued up to my floor and when we got to my door I tried my lock and it worked on the first time, leaving the building manager to stare at me then shrug again and walk away.

At this point I decided enough was enough and went into apartment and started to cry, about 2 minutes after I sat down I heard a pounding on my door and opened it to see my friend Nathan who I had called to help me translate standing outside my door shaking with a look of complete panic on his face. As soon as he sees me hes says my name, gives me a big hug, and starts to cry because he thought I had been attacked and had run all the way to my apartment (we live about 20 mins away from each other). My phone must have made it because while he was still on the line he heard a thud of it apparently hitting the floor then random noises of the elevator shaft but I didn't respond when he called my name. I of course felt really awful for putting him through that and not trying to contact him. I make him some chamomile tea because he's still shaking, apologize for scaring him and sadly reminisce about my beloved phone to which Nathan eloquently replies with an "At least your safe" making me realize, I may have had a crappy night, I may have lost my beautiful iPhone but in everything that had happened, from the homemade cupcakes, to the games (I love games), to their complete devotion to doing whatever I wanted to do, and the heartfelt "at least your safe" my friends had shown just how wonderful they are and I ended the night feeling truly cared about which I guess is the best way to end any night especially a birthday night.