5 Major Life Lessons from 2013

As this year comes to a close I am reflecting on the past twelve months or as I like to call it “The Year of Upheaval.” As I look back on this magnificent year I get a bit teary when I think of the stark contrast between my life last year and how it looks today. Like a grain of rice sprouting in my new land I, too, have blossomed into a different woman. While I don’t want to tire you out with everything I’ve learned so here are the top five:

1. Don’t listen to the naysayers about marriage. Growing up I hated the references to marriage. Statements such as calling the wife the “old ball and chain” or the jokes about a woman “being barefoot and pregnant.” These not so subtle innuendos left a scaring and permanent mark on my psyche and I was terrified of getting married. Not because I questioned the relationship with my soon-to-be husband but because deep down I had this irrational fear that the moment the “I do’s” were spoken my loving and supportive boyfriend would suddenly turn into this sullen, distant, wife-beater shirt wearing husband that walked around complaining to all his friends about his wife and I would turn into a slave to my uterus and kitchen…a maid who apparently can’t afford shoes. (Seriously, where does the “barefoot” part of the reference come from?) And notice I said “irrational” fear. Anyone who knows Rich and me understands the hilarity of the comparison but to me the fears were terrifyingly real leading up to the big day.

But, still, I thought, this is the man I love and want to spend my life with. The only man with which I have ever seriously entertained the IDEA of marriage and children. So I “took the plunge,” another unfortunate marriage plug. And I found that, not only did none of those fears come to fruition but the only thing that changed was I had a deeper love and respect for Rich and our relationship. I don’t expect every day for the rest of our lives to be a walk in the park but what I have discovered is that the days when I am frustrated with him or annoyed at every little thing I don’t question our commitment or desire to be together.  I know he is the person that makes me laugh harder than anyone else, takes care of me when I am sick and ugly and sings karaoke with me for four hours straight just to make me happy even though his voice sounds more like a basset hound howl than Bruno Mars.

2. Don’t Listen to the sales pitch on weddings. Wedding magazines, television shows and bridal expos are a disgusting ploy to capitalize on a sacred and special day in two people’s lives. I don’t fault anyone for wanting a large and expensive wedding if they have the means and opportunity but it is easy to get caught up in the day that is being planned rather than the life being created, a point many people have referenced in these shallow, Kardashian-filled days. Maybe this is why the statements from above exist in the first place and the divorce rate is holding steady at fifty percent. By these wedding companies putting it out in the world that a wedding must have an ice swan with chocolate fondue seeping out of its orifices in order for my special day to be complete is cheapening marriages and setting an example so skewed weddings have now become just a day to throw the most elaborate party of people’s lives.

I felt the pressure to live up to this societal expectation until one day I took a look at myself and said, “This isn’t me.” I don’t need every person I’ve ever met at my wedding. I don’t need a fancy hotel or ice sculptures or bankruptcy. I wanted my closest friends and family surrounding me on the day I married Rich and that’s it. So we found a small bed and breakfast in Orange, CA, invited fifty of the most special people in our lives and planned a day that was us…a mosh pile of cultures, tears and laughter.

 

 



3. Living in a new country still means dealing with the tedious parts of life. I have a problem. I hate being bored. I just can’t stand it. I’m pretty good at entertaining myself and am quite the homebody but I want everyday to be unstructured and exciting. I crave variety and prefer to live on my own timetable. So when I moved to Korea I was hoping it would provide the adventure I so desperately wanted. And it does to a certain extent but it still means living with all the boring stuff in between. I still have to get up in the morning and go to work at a specific time and follow ridiculous rules and pretend to be interested in things I’m not, etc…
    
Through this transition I am slowly learning to accept that, although life can’t and won’t be lived like a Michael Bay movie, learning to love the mundane is more than half the battle at a happy life. It is something I still struggle with on a regular basis but slowly I am teaching myself that I can find excitement in the monotony.

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