Happy Days to Curb the Sad Ones

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So here’s the thing, peeps: I’ve not been completely honest about everything when it comes to my recent relocation.

I’ve been trying to capture both the highs and the lows of moving to Korea over the last 2 months so that I can look back one day and really understand what it was all like. I made a decision to write about things that others might have kept quiet about as well as the things I’ve really enjoyed.

But the truth of the matter is that my first few months here have been tainted by sadness.

It’s a sadness that lurks in the back of my mind even when I’m smiling, laughing and generally having a good time. I haven’t felt that deep connection to Korea that most people seem to experience when they get here. There’s been no spark of excitement that’s let me lose myself in the moment and, no matter how much I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given and no matter how much I’m trying to get from this experience, there’s something missing.

And, lately, that something missing has been getting to me more than it should.

It feels like a tick in the back of my brain that refuses to feel everything 100%.

That lingering sadness has been showing up in bursts of crying fits, agitation (not a great thing to have when you teach high school), overwhelming tiredness, and emptiness. I’ve been having difficulty concentrating and have found that I’m skipping most meals again. Worst of all, I’ve been a pretty shitty friend to those overseas. I know the obligatory ‘How’s Korea?’ question will eventually pop up during conversation and, not wanting to lie to them, I end up just not talking to them at all.

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new-girl-snap-out-of-itThis behaviour and attitude needs to come to a stop right now.

Korea’s not exactly known for its sympathies when it comes to feeling sorry for yourself and, from what I can see, the expats I’ve met seem to be having the times of their lives.

So, as I’m essentially holding myself responsible to ensure I don’t turn into a complete depressive, I’ve decided to try and take some action and join the #100HappyDays meme. Yup. The one that features a bunch of ridiculously happy people clogging up your Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds with pictures of sunsets and food.

I gave up doing memes a long time ago but, right now, I feel like a piece of positivity in each day couldn’t hurt.

I mean, I think even signing up to the challenge was a big red flag that I needed to go ahead with it. One of the things you have to fill in is the “Challenge Start Date” and I genuinely had to have a good think about it because I was convinced nothing was going to make me happy today.

79013-what-the-fuck-is-that-gif-WTF-E47KAlso, check out my happiness scale:

100

Oh yeah, I’m a real upper.

So, there it is, guys. As of today, I’ll be doing the 100 Happy Days challenge and if you’d like to follow my little collection of photos, you can do so over on Instagram. (Oh yeah, I have an Instagram now. I’m mega cool and down with the kids. (Is cool still a cool thing to say?))

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If you follow me on Twitter or have me as a friend on Facebook, I might link up a Happy Days picture (Sunday, Monday, Happy Days … Tuesday, Wednesday, Happy Days … ) now and again but, for the most part, it’s pretty much going to be kept on my Instagram.

And, to kick it off, here’s the picture from Day 1:

Two of my favourite students who stayed after class to chat. #100HappyDays #Day1 #Naju #Korea

A post shared by Ceri (@ceripadley) on

These are two of my favourite students who decided to hang around after class today to chat. I love these girls so much. At the start of our after-school course, they barely spoke a word, sat by themselves in their little shy bubbles, and let the others do all the talking.

But now? It’s amazing to see how much their confidence has increased. In every class I have them in, they’re not afraid to participate and give answers. Not only that but, unlike a lot of their peers, they aren’t afraid to practice their English with me outside of class and try to hold a conversation.

Fabulous girls who are going to be pretty amazing women.

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13 thoughts on “Happy Days to Curb the Sad Ones

  1. Ceri! This was so weird reading your post today, because I’m putting up almost an identical post tomorrow. We are relocating to Boston in the next two months, and there has been so much stress and other bad things going on. I just want a chance to focus on the things I *can* control, more than what I can’t, and to try to overcome this depression I’ve been in for the last year. My start date in June 1st, for specific reasons that I’ll go into on tomorrow’s post. Just wanted to say I understand and I hear you!! Obviously.

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    • Wow, thanks so much for this, Amanda. I’m excited that you guys are moving to Boston (one of the places I’ve always wanted to visit) but can totally appreciate how stressful it must be and I’m sorry you’ve been feeling that way. They say that moving is one of the most stressful things a person can do (I think it ranks number 2 after getting divorced). I’m also really sorry to hear you’ve been in this depression for the last year – That’s exactly why I’m trying to focus on those happy moments for the next 100 days; I’m so scared of spiralling back into depression.

      I’m going to hop on over to your new blog now to give it a good read.

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  2. Ceri, I’ve been thinking for a while about how I would comment on this post. First, I give you so much respect for admitting your mixed feelings about living in Korea, and that it’s not as positive as you expected. I can attest first-hand to the dangers of holding those feelings in for too long. Secondly, I think it’s wonderful that you are committing to happiness. It is vital that you spend time on yourself, finding activities and people and places that make you happy there. The only piece of advice I would give (not that I’m in any place to be giving advice) is to still let yourself feel the shitty emotions, despite your commitment to happiness. Even if you don’t write it here, allow yourself to get some of it out on paper every once in a while. You have nothing at ALL to feel guilty for if you find yourself feeling bad/sad/disappointed/furious every once in a while. We’ve got your back. 🙂

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    • First of all, thank you so much. And I have to say, Meg – I really do think that your post about how you really felt in Georgia actually inspired me to be more honest about all my experiences here and really get this off my chest and admit the truth. I thought that was so brave of you because so many people like to whitewash their experiences with everything good and sparkly and never admit that life can be tough and that not all overseas experiences can be good ones.

      I’ll definitely be letting my shitty feelings out somewhere. I imagine most of it will come out in talking to my friends but maybe I’ll stick them on here too (as long as this doesn’t turn into the whinging blog! Haha). I’m a true believer in not denying both happy and sad emotions and that you can’t just ignore the negative ones because they’ll definitely build up into something worse.

      Thank you again for leaving me such a lovely message. ❤ I feel like you really understand what I'm experiencing.

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  3. I’ve been meaning to comment for awhile on your posts. This one but also the one dealing with violence in your school. Know that even with teachers berating your students you have become a light at the end of their tunnel and though it may not seem like it your positivity will affect them and it will shine through maybe not now but it will and they will be grateful. Grateful that someone lifted them up and showed them kindness. Korea is definitely a mind field right now for me. It has opened me so much in the past 3 months but at the same time I currently find myself equally struggling. A sadness and just things in general I find myself have to deal with here. I just finished 100 happy days, I had started it before I came but I found it incredibly helpful especially within these first fragile moments to force myself to focus on something that indeed made me smile. Even if my day wasn’t great it helped me put things in perspective at times. I agree with what Meg said above a lot. I don’t think it’s just about committing to happiness as much as it’s seeing the whole picture and being grateful. Happiness can’t be bottled up, life is all about ups and downs. Don’t be afraid to own your emotions, to feel them and acknowledge them it’s what helps a grow and see things clearly even if it’s shitty at the moment. I’m looking forward to following along : )

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    • Thank you so much for your lovely words, Jess. They really mean a lot.

      I can’t wait until we get to meet up on Wednesday and really share these experiences in person. I have a feeling we’ve been going through very similar things here.

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  4. I’ve been following a friend’s #100HappyDays and I think it’s such a great concept – not only is she finding something positive about each day, but she’s also cheering us up too! Hope it goes well:)

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  5. Thanks for writing this post! I haven’t felt deeply connected to Korea either, and it’s been almost ten months since I arrived now. But I haven’t felt sad or alone most of the time, because like you, I consciously chose to make an effort. (Bravo to you for paying attention to your feelings and choosing to start #100HappyDays!).

    I decided to take advantage of the fact that I live in a rural town far from any friends. I’ve been using my evenings alone this year to read more, write, study French, blog, increase flexibility, learn HTML, among other various personal projects. I’ve also been focusing on gratitude, as I need to appreciate the small joys each day when I spend so much time alone/unable to communicate with those around me. And it’s made all the difference.

    I’ll be able to leave Korea in 2.5 months with new skills, understandings, and appreciation for elements of my U.S. & Spain lives that I took for granted before. Being immersed in Korean culture is a distinct experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything else – both the highs and the lows. So while we may not have bonded as well as I have with other places, I’ll take with me all that I’ve gained from Korea as I move on to the next lesson in life.

    I’ll be curious to follow how your feelings change as time goes on. I definitely have had a few different views about my life in Korea since last fall.

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    • Thank you so much for this comment, Rebe. I absolutely love the fact that you’ve taken your feelings of not being able to connect to where you are to turn it into something positive. And I saw on your blog that you’re doing the Give it 100 thing so you actually kind of inspired me with that. I think I’ll be doing that when my 100 Days of Happiness project finishes, just so I can turn my ‘happiness’ into something productive that I really want to be doing. 🙂

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      • Oh great! I really like Give it 100 — it’s such a supportive community, which gives me motivation yet also provides some accountability. Let me know your username on there if/when you do join! ^^

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