This is my last column. I cannot believe the year is over, but more surprisingly I cannot believe I actually managed to write the twelve columns. For this last one I would like to talk about things that may reveal some of the less glamorous experiences I had, but they will also reveal just how important the year was to me.
It wasn’t always spectacular. Some things I really struggled with initially. Living alone was the hardest thing to become comfortable with. It is not easy to live by yourself, especially when it is in a one room apartment during a Korean winter. That’s not easy, for anyone. I also had no knowledge of the language and I couldn’t even read it. I mean the characters (letters) look like something my niece would draw. As such and as you know from the January column, something simple like catching the right bus was quite difficult.
Paudie Purcell, from Cashel, is one of my best friends back home and is a wise man. He said to me before I left, ‘when you get out there it will be the lowest you’ll have ever been in your life and maybe the lowest you’ll ever be again.’ He has been absolutely right thus far. It was the lowest I have ever been.
I cried I’ll admit it, but I never wanted to come home, never. I needed to do it, for myself. I knew it would be hard, but to be honest that’s what I wanted, what I needed. My father said to me when I was very down in January, ‘if you were to come home now no one would think less of you. But when you come down the avenue (in Boherlahan) and think about what you didn’t do or what you didn’t give yourself the chance to do, what would you think of you?’
This was an incredible thing for him to say to me at such a low point in my life. Hearing something like this made me suffer through the feelings of isolation. The low after moving away from home and living on your own for the first time is something you only have to experience once. I had terrible feelings of loneliness and isolation, but becoming comfortable with myself and becoming comfortable living on my own, it removes those feelings. It just takes time. The struggle and the homesickness taught me some valuable lessons and of course living on my own was one of the most important experiences I had. It taught me more about myself and I grew stronger because of it.
What I went through, the first few weeks of January, I’ll never have to go through again. I could go to Yemen or Peru, all alone and think ok, let’s gone on with it. The experience made me stronger and it has made me into a mature, responsible (at times), clothes washing, window washing, dog feeding adult, still holding on to a bit of a wild side and a fondness for a pint.
Full story in this week’s Tipperary Star.