Whenever I think about this blog, I’m filled with a sense of pride.
I started WorryWarior around Christmas in 2018. I had just come back from my study abroad in France, and was grappling with the major life changes of chronic illness. In pain, depressed, and struggling to handle my emotions, I did what I always do: I started writing. I opened my computer and vented all my feelings of frustration, of anger, of grief, of helplessness into a word document. It wasn’t until the next day that I found the courage to post it.
2019 arrived and I finished my senior year of college, then began what I lovingly call my “victory lap” (my fifth year of college). I utilized the disability services offered by my university, worked hard to get two different Bachelors of Science Degrees, and started to think about the future. I knew I wanted to travel, namely to South Korea, and I knew I wanted to continue learning about women’s rights around the world. That’s when I started looking into becoming an English teacher.
The more I learned about teaching English, the more I realized that was what I wanted to be doing. I registered for classes with the International TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Academy, researched methods of chronic pain relief abroad, and mentally packed my bags for the Next Big Adventure.
Then in 2020, the world came to a standstill. I don’t need to explain; I’ve already written extensively on the pandemic and my personal anxieties and fears. In 2020 the world changed, and my dreams were put on hold. I started working multiple jobs. I worked in a bakery during the early mornings and afternoons, then in the evenings and late nights, I taught English online. I was exhausted, but I told myself I would still find a way to get to Korea.
In November of 2020, through a combination of hard work, generous family and friends, and sheer luck, I arrived in South Korea as a language student at Seoul National University.
Then in March of 2021, I moved south to begin an English teaching job in Jeonju. I learned many things during my time there. I met many amazing people, tried new things, and though I left the city with a bad taste in my mouth (an employer refusing to pay you severance of 2.5 million won is bound to make anyone a little grumpy) I left Jeonju wiser and with goals in place.
March 2022 I began a new teaching job, this time back in Seoul. I found a great apartment, moved in with a friend from Jeonju who also found work in the city, began establishing myself and my goals more clearly-
And immediately got COVID.
Now, I count myself lucky. By this point, I had been vaccinated and received a booster, so my illness was not nearly as bad as it could have been, and my new employer proved themselves empathetic by paying me in full during my quarantine (something pervious employers would never do).
Once recovered from the physical illness, I still had physiological troubles (see post, “Cats and Guinea Pigs”) but, I was more determined than ever to accomplish my goals.
I want to take the TOPIK Exam (Test of Proficiency In Korean), score at least level 4 so I can get my Master’s Degree in Women’s Studies at Ewha Women’s University in Seoul.
Lofty goal, Alex, but what exactly are you getting at here?
Ah, rhetorical voice I typed to move this blog post along, what an excellent question! I’ve spent three years finding my voice, standing up for fellow spoonies, and broadcasting my most vulnerable moments to the world (or at least, to mom who always reads these posts. Hi, Mom!) I’ve talked extensively about life with chronic illness, the struggles, the victories, but that’s not all I want to do.
So, from today, I’m no longer limiting myself to only blogging about my life with chronic illness. Because, that’s not all there is to me. I am more than my illness, more than a sum of my diagnoses. I am me. And I have a hell of a lot to say.