What Have I Done With My 25-Year-Old Life?

June 9, 2013 at 2:24 AM | Posted in (All Posts), Study Abroad Blog | Leave a comment
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I’m not a big Star Trek fan. In fact, prior to the 2009 JJ Abrams film, I wasn’t a Star Trek film in the least bit. I can’t even really call myself one now. But I loved that 2009 film more than I care to share. To be honest, I only saw it once (maybe twice) in theaters the year of the initial release, but I haven’t watched it since that. That is, until I noticed a few weeks ago that the film will be coming to Korea at the end of May.

Living here in South Korea, I have the benefit sometimes of seeing Hollywood blockbusters a bit early as the Korean release date is sometimes ahead of the US. But in the case of the Star Trek sequel (Star Trek Into Darkness), it was reversed. I was noticing friends on Facebook giving their opinions after seeing the film, so it spiked my interest in the sequel a bit.

So I took it upon myself to watch the 2009 film again (with Korean subtitles, conveniently), and it was better than I even remembered. I often struggle to come up with lists of my favorite films, but if I had to be honest, this film would be somewhere near the top 10.

That all being said, watching the film, one particular theme kept running through my head as I watched it. It’s stated more than once that Chris Pine’s character, the famous James Tiberius Kirk, is 25-years-old. Minor spoilers here, but of course, by the end of the film, the 25-year-old Kirk is captain of the USS Enterprise, more or less becoming the hero of the film (or sharing the hero spotlight with the Spock character).

Chris Pine

My 25th birthday was early in May.

So the connection there made me dwell on my own life somewhat.

“David, you just turned 25. What have you done?”

What really measures someone’s worth? Their accomplishments? How they treat others? I’m not digging for a right answer. I guess it’s all just subjective.

If I wanted to feed my ego, I definitely could. I’ve done a lot of things I’m proud of. Traveled the world on my own. Jumped blindly without looking both ways (figuratively and literally). Learned a new language (and still learning). Managed a video game / comic store — a job my 15-year-old self would have wet himself for. Been the proud owner of a 1999 Jeep Wrangler — the car of my dreams — and had many adventures with him. Graduated from two colleges with two degrees. Worked full time while finishing one of those degrees. Coached a (winning) youth soccer team. Set my priority as getting out of my comfort zone and decided to use my earned money to travel the US and other countries. Been published in multiple newspapers as a journalist/reporter. Gotten a tattoo that has a lot personal meaning to me and one I’ll always be proud of. Received a full-ride scholarship by the Korean Government to attend graduate school in a new country. I set goals and I fully accomplished them. And of course I am still in pursuit of many things as well.

I’m beginning to roll my eyes as I reread this (haha). But I am proud of where I am and who I am. I think it’s good to reflect on what you’ve accomplished. And not just that, but how you’ve treated others. If you were loyal or not. If you were honest or not. If you made the right choices for you. Or even if you made the choice to put someone else over.

DSC02102 2

Visiting New York City in the summer of 2012. Another one of my personal dreams knocked off the list. It might not seem like much to some, but you can’t judge an accomplishment. This trip (with two good friends) was a mixture of sporadic planning and living in the moment. At at time when I should have been preparing to come to Korea (and tending my infected bike injury — notice the blue tape on right arm), we drove over 11 hours through the night. Spent an entire day doing everything we had only heard about in NYC, and then drove back (with no sleep).

I like to think of this trip as a culmination of my new mindset. Just make mistakes. Just dive in and make mistakes. Blindly. It sounds reckless — but when you’re young and trying to avoid the trap of adulthood like I am, just go for it. You don’t know when you’ll get another chance to have this kind of freedom.

And of course, here I am in Korea (usually) blogging about how hard this program is. Looking back, I should have thought a lot harder about my options. Maybe I should have taken that grad school offer in Hawaii. Maybe I should have just worked with my friend for a cell phone company and saved up money to take more trips. But I took a risk, going back to the country that I enjoyed so much in 2011.

What this has done for me is “stretch me out” as one of my old professor’s told me in an email. It’s good to feel uncomfortable and stretched out. It’s an essential part of growing to feel stress in a time when you want things to just work out. And that is definitely where I am now. Some days I feel like I make no progress. Some days I just close the books and kill time eating peanuts and watching a documentary online. And I feel like a failure. Then I go back to class and get (mentally) beaten up by my misunderstandings. But I keep at it. I could have gone home. Maybe I should have gone home. But I didn’t. And I’m going to pass this language test. Sooner or later it will happen.

I wish I could wrap this up in some message. Some “enlightened” advice to give to any reader. But I really don’t have anything. Today is an early Sunday in June, and I woke up early to go see Star Trek: Into Darkness by myself at the early showing. I had already seen it once with my girlfriend and once with one of my roommates. But I just decided before I started studying a bit today, I would wake up early and see one of my favorite movies a third time.

So to come to a roundabout point — yes, I have now seen Star Trek Into Darkness. Obviously I thought it was fantastic.

If you take anything from this post, I guess I’m just trying to praise the idea of escapism. Through movies or music or games. Just diving into something and then looking back on yourself. I never seem to feel disappointed with this kind of strategy.

I watched a film from 2009 and realized how much I loved it. It made me reflect on what I’ve accomplished in my own life and I’m so proud of myself. I really am. And just recently I saw the sequel and it was amazing. Totally helped me lose some of the stress of this language boot camp.

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