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How To: Make Friends in Korea

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I love and advocate for solo travel, especially by millennials when at all possible, though one does have to recognize the unique barriers to entry that millennials, however, the hardest part of traveling alone is building a support system and a life that has meaningful relationships in it. Once the excitement wears off, being in Korea can be really tough if you don't make friends. Luckily for you, through trial error, I've learned some (almost) foolproof ways to make new friends while you are in Korea. While a few of these tips are generalizable, some of them are Korea-specific. Just remember if you're feeling really lonely, reach out to someone! You'll be surprised how compassionate people are, especially in your time …

How To: Deal With Sadness When You Have No One



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To give you some idea of where I am in my life, I’m currently sitting in my car listening to my “Rainy Days No Mondays” playlist (which you can find and follow here on Spotify) while it rains outside. I’ve been sitting here for over an hour, waiting for a reasonable time to go inside of the movie theater to see Ocean’s 8 at 5:15. It’s not quite 4:00. The circumstances that have put me in this situation we... don’t have to get into, but I am sad! I had plans that fell through and I feel betrayed and dis1ppointed. Mostly though, I’m having a lot of the same thoughts I’ve had my entire life-“What would happen if I just turned off my phone and never answered anyone again?” “I should just drive to Seattle and start a bookstore and write poetry and live a quiet little life then die alone in the woods listening to Hozier.”
Then it comes to me that Busan is not a cure for depression. Long-term travel is not going to cure my depression. I am so excited to travel and study abroad, but I didn’t even realize that I had the expectation that it would until now. If anything, my depressive symptoms will be exacerbated because of a different environment and a lack of familiar faces after temporarily being suppressed by those same factors. Mental illness is the very first thing that slides into my luggage. In fact, he crawls into my carryon to make sure he doesn't get left behind. Here, are four tips on how you deal with the sadness whether you actually have no one, or you have the perception that you have no one.






1. Let Yourself Feel

This seems so much more straightforward than it is. My theory always has been that emotional pain is experienced so strongly partially because of resistance to the unpleasant feeling or feelings that need to be processed. Resisting the experience of those feelings- anger, sadness, disappointment, betrayal- more often than not just prolongs the experience of those symptoms. More so, you feel out of control of your own being. No matter what you do you're going to feel the unpleasant stuff, it's just a matter of how long you want to feel it.
Allowing yourself to feel betrayed or sad or angry often makes the feeling disappear just as fast as it came. In my experience, the feeling will not go away until your mind and your body has fully processed it. I understand that some things truly need to be processed in bits and pieces to protect your psyche, and you, of course, are allowed that time, but some of that daily pain? Being out of emotional commission for a few weeks to fully feel the weight or your last breakup is better than being sad and confused about it for years at a time. Feelings are absolutely terrifying, but they're also what makes us human!

2. Be Vulnerable

Every day at work I ask people "How's it going?" and they answer how we all do- with a "fine." The fear of becoming an emotional burden on someone else keeps us from being able to share a human connection with someone else. Of course, dumping everything you have on your shoulders onto someone else isn't fair to them, emotions really do weigh on the brain and body, however, you would be surprised not only how good you'll feel after sharing a bit of yourself with someone else, but also how good they'll feel if they get to be someone for you. A simple "I'm not doing too great, actually" will more often than not elicit a "I'm really sorry to hear that life's ups and downs can be a lot, but I know you've got this." It isn't the solution to all of your problems, but it is another person empathizing with you, motivating you, and maybe you'll make a new friend too. Just expressing something small like that, will help clear your mind to a point where you're able to see your life's playing field more clearly.
This same method goes for all interactions you have people, especially when you're going abroad and are trying to create a new life for yourself. You'd be surprised at how much farther you can get with others when you are authentic to your feelings. Listen, it is terrifying, I know! If someone rejects you when you are your most authentic it hurts more because let's face it, they are really rejecting you, but guess what? When you connect with someone, when you fall in love with someone, when you create a friendship, being that vulnerable beautiful amazing version of yourself that really exists, it feels so much more real too. Consciously presenting yourself with all of your stains and pains will make a human connection just that more genuine.

3. Everything You Need is Already Inside of You (Hear Me Out)

   Be careful with this mantra as it does seem a little contradictory to number two but hear me out before you message me or comment something mean (I'm sensitive!). Finding the balance between complete vulnerability with others and knowing that a lot of the resources you need to make it through the bad times is within your own psyche is like... the goal. Connecting with others to help solve some of your sadness is crucial. You get a new a perspective and fresh eyes on what may seem like an impossible maze, however, what is the problem itself? Why are you reacting the way you are? When do you want a solution? There are so many questions that only you can answer with some time alone.
   The initial evaluation of your sadness can unfortunately only be done by you. If you're lonely, are you lonely because you are bored with yourself or are you lonely because you don't feel like you are good company? You need to think about why you desire something or someone outside of yourself. There are perfectly good and lovely reasons why we want the touch and interaction of others, but there are also reasons that mask deeper troubles. If your friend hasn't contacted you since you've been abroad, are you going to give it more time, ask them if they're alright, or are you going to consider dissolving your friendship? Why are you reacting the way you are?
   Don't get me wrong, I do not want to be a catalyst for overthinking, but I do want to empower others to realize that your own perspective on your life is the only one that matters. You have to live with you and you're the only one that has to do so. The gut feelings are imperative, but the big lingering feelings deserve a little more thought, don't you think? The shape of the sadness is all your brain's doing, and can thus, with truly grueling work, can be deconstructed.

4. When In Doubt, Look Out (With Book Rec)
   
   The book that has affected me the most this year has got to be "The Book of Joy" by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I listened to it for free through my libraries audiobook app and it was an extremely pleasant listen. The Archbishop and His Holiness have two very different worldviews and further have to different ideas on how to achieve joy, but their relationship is super cute anyway. There is a palpable mutual respect and true love between the two.
   Though the two religious figures have two different ideas on how to achieve joy, they both believe in one concept, one I like to call "When in doubt, look out." The gist is, both men agree, when nothing else is working, be in service to others. Are you super sad? Check on that friend that lost their best friend a few weeks ago. Feeling lonely? Take your mom out for ice cream. Don't know anyone to be in service of? You can sign up for something like Crisis Text Line or find somewhere in your community to volunteer your time on a flexible or regular basis. When you turn your focus outward, you get to feel by making someone else feel good, and you can return to your introspection with a clearer head and a different view.

    On behalf of well, me, I would like to say that I am so very sorry that you don't have anyone in your life you can lean on. While you're building up your support system through genuine human connection and more so, human love, I hope that some of these tips have empowered you to trust in your own ability to keep moving forward. It's okay to need other people.

With all the luck in the world
Myaia

I read "The Book of Joy" using free library services available to me. I personally do volunteer with Crisis Text Line, however, they have not encouraged me, nor have they paid me, to advertise their services here. I just believe that they do good work.
Thumbnail Photo by whoislimos on Unsplash


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