November 7, 2012 by travelinggrits
Living in Korea has taught me the ultimate lesson about owning up for my own mistakes.
I think the root of this lies in the language barrier. If I’m late to an appointment, sometimes I can’t adequately convey the reason why. If I was confused about instructions and carried them out incorrectly, my excuses are limited. All I can say is, “I apologize.”
It feels good to be forced to hold myself more accountable.
Alternatively, sometimes I get the short end of the stick. I often don’t have the words to politely point out how I was wronged.
I made an appointment in Daegu one afternoon, and I messaged the person that I was on my way while making the commute. The friend responded that they were busy and could not meet. Reflecting on the hassle of quickly cleaning up after my last class, boarding the bus, making it to the train station on time and purchasing a ticket, I was a bit peeved. My friend’s English was limited, so I let the cancellation slide since respectfully expressing my irritation was simply not worth the effort. I treated myself to a brief bout of window-shopping to let everything blow over and headed back home.
It feels good to be forced to forgive and forget.
I’ve also learned to brush off what has absolutely nothing to do with me.
Every family has its arguments on occasion, and so does my host family, so it’s natural that I should witness both the highs and lows of living together during my grant year. Long story short, a recent outing that began with everyone in high spirits disintegrated into a battle of tears and rapid-fire Korean by the time we got home. There was occasional gesturing in my direction as well as use of my name, which was quite unnerving, since I had limited understanding of what was going on. From what I gather, the host mom was admonishing the sisters for their behavior in front of me.
We arrived home, the girls secluded themselves in their study room, and the mom served me dinner, simply saying, “I’m sorry, there was a misunderstanding.”
And that was that.
It feels good to not take sides.
Not my own, in favor of my own interests. Not anyone else’s, out of guilt for my actions. I don’t carry that weight around. I just carry on.