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  • Danielle McCarron

The Year of Dani

As my year of living in Seoul is quickly wrapping up, I have been in a pretty deep state of contemplation and reflection over the last few weeks. The heat has picked up and the atmosphere feels the same as when I arrived last year. Except, everything also feels different.

When I moved to Korea, I had no idea why I was taking this massive leap of faith. I didn’t want to be a teacher. I had never eaten Korean food and had no particular draw to the culture or language and things were seemingly coming together in building my business and client-base in Toronto. So, why the move? All I knew at the time was everything in me was telling me it was the right move. Everything aligned so effortlessly, as it does when it is meant to be, and I had to trust what I knew was best for me. When I arrived, I was like, k, what the actual fuck am I doing here? But I still knew I was where I was supposed to be.

This year has brought more challenges than I ever knew I was ready to face. I have had one of the biggest, if not the biggest, growth years of my life. Living in a new country will do that for you. Reflecting back, these are some of the biggest lessons I have learned this year.

1. I’ve got this.

When you move across the world, sometimes things get funky in the middle of the day. Something would happen at work or I would be frustrated with a friend or relationship and I needed my people to chat with. The thing is, when you live on the other side of the world, your people are sleeping in the middle of the day. They’re not really available except for a couple of hours in the morning and evening.

In that, I learned to rely on myself and my connection to a higher power, to what I call the Universe. I had to learn how to deeply trust this relationship and nourish it. Sometimes I would try so desperately to call so many people and I couldn’t get a hold of anyone. It was up to me. And I learned so much through that.

I learned to trust myself on a deeper level and to trust the universe. I learned that I’VE GOT THIS. That I can handle and move through things even if they are as comfortable as all hell at that moment. I can handle it. I of course still need the support of my tribe, but I have a new-found connection to myself and my ability to handle what life throws at me.

2. It is okay to be alone. It is okay to be lonely.

In that, although I came with a friend to Korea, there were periods of time where I would be pretty lonely. I’d want to hang out and do something with people and although I also made a few wonderful friends this year, schedules don’t always line up. When you feel disconnected from your surroundings as you don’t speak the language or can’t engage with people on the same intimacy on a day-to-day basis, a level of loneliness creeps in.

And that, I’ve learned, can be a good thing.

I’ve learned to be okay just being with myself. I relish in my quiet time now more than ever. It has helped me authentically choose which relationships to focus on and which to release. It helps me appreciate the people in my life I do have. It has led me to be okay and comfortable with who I am in a way that you cannot if you are always with someone, physically or just attached emotionally.

A lot of growth comes from being alone, and I’ve learned not to change everything around me when I feel lonely, but go inward and listen to what it is trying to tell me.

3. I cherish the relationships I have, in a new way

That being said, I can’t wait to get a good hug from my mama and the people in my life I love so deeply. There is a beautiful connection that happens when you maintain long-distance friendships and relationships. You learn who will make an effort and who, no matter how hard you try, won’t really be there. And that’s okay. Nothing earth-shattering, but I am excited to really be with the people who helped me through this year and made an effort to maintain our friendships.

4. Adulting Boot-Camp

I have never been so independent in my life. In that, I am financially independent from everyone in my life, I do all of my own groceries, pay my bills, do my laundry, keep my apartment clean, make my damn bed and be a grown-up. This is something that has never come easy for me. My darling parents enabled the crap out of me and then I moved into a house with my boyfriend. Although I contributed what I could, I was never independent. Even living away from my parents but being close enough that I could swing by for food or laundry or my boyfriend would grab groceries and pay bills I didn’t even know we had. I funded my life this year, my trips, my budget (I even bought myself a very grown-up expensive purse all on my own), got my groceries and cooked in the dead of winter when I would rather starve but I took care of myself – emotionally, mentally, physically and financially.

This is an area I have carried shame around as it took me until I was 28 to be able to say that. But, I am pretty damn proud of myself and the independence I now feel from being able to say that.

I have also realized that I can get shit done. I can study, work full time, write a book, see clients, have a social life and work on myself. Pretty cool. Sobriety is such a gift. Never could I have accomplished those things if I was drinking. Productivity and passion have been re-ignited.

5. I love Toronto

I am not sure where I will end up. A year and a half ago I couldn’t have told you I would end up in Korea, but I did. I am open to the possibilities of the year ahead.

That being said, there is a new appreciation for your home when you travel and live somewhere else. I love Toronto. I love Canada. I can confidently say that now because I have experienced life in other places. If I end up settling in Toronto, (who knows where/when/if that will happen!), but if I do, I know I will be choosing somewhere that authentically works for me, not settling because that is where I happened to grow up.

6. I learned how to let go

How to let go of attachments. How to let go of relationships that are not going to nourish me and help me grow into the person I am becoming and who I am meant to be. I have learned to let go of stuff that I didn’t think I could let go of. I’ve learned what’s really important and how to really love myself through those hard times. I have learned that the best way to detach is to attach my love back to myself.

Life is a continuous flow and things go a lot easier when I flow down the river rather than try to hold onto the sides for dear life. It is a hell of a lot less painful, too.

7. I have strength in me I didn’t know I had.

I knew I could handle some stuff. I never knew how much. I couldn’t have possibly imagined the growth that would happen this year, most of it seems to be out of my control.

I have learned so much about making myself a priority. About setting authentic boundaries. About the depths of my codependeny I am working through and how to quit-people pleasing and do what is best for me. These are all areas I thought I worked through, but the work just goes deeper and deeper.

I will miss Korea. I grew to love this place I called home. It served me well. I had the most profound and beautiful year.

And, onto the next.

I am ready.

Love you.



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