It’s a Young World

June 12, 2011

I thought about doing this as a video blog, but as I’m not feeling so hot on this lazy Sunday and my cooking dinner is creating a little too much ambient noise, I will try to express myself in text.

This really just popped into my head a few minutes ago, and it’s not exactly a topic I’m getting comfortable with: I’m getting old.

“But Turner,” you must be saying, “Surely you’re joking! You’re only 29!”

Yes, indeed. Since last week. And I see reminders of my youth every day, as I live in a town rife with ajumma and ajussi. I can still run with the best of them. I beat all the “kids” on the climb up to Seonginbong Peak on Ulleungdo. I still have my youthful looks and my amazing immaturity.

But, I’m not 19. I’m not even 24. And nowhere could that be made more obvious to me than in a situation like teaching English abroad.

Oh sure, we’ve got English-teaching expats living here in their 60s, but by and large the foreign community consists of early to mid 20-somethings. I was one of those when I started this journey. Give it enough time and I might become the awkward 30-something trying to socialize with a much younger crowd. Not that there’s anything wrong with making friends across ages and nationalities. Far from it. But at the same time, I firmly believe Asia is a Never Never Land for foreigners. We grow up, but, in a sense, we don’t really mature past the age of 24. How could anyone if he always finds himself spending all his time with one age group constantly sharing the same impressions (i.e. newbies coming to Korea and expressing the same surprise, wanting to travel to the same areas, etc)?

Part of my confusion was I didn’t see myself as a 29-year-old. I hung out with 22, 24, and 25-year-olds and just overlooked the fact they were younger, and had completely different perspectives on life. They might stay a year, go home for ten, and return to find themselves slipping into the same patterns. Think of how you behave around high school friends you haven’t had contact with in a few years; you can’t help but revert to your school persona, try to take the characteristics of the individual who knew the other standing in front of you. And that’s alright. It’s perfectly natural.

But when you do it after so much time in a foreign country, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to do anything else. You’re living a life many back home would envy, but isn’t the reverse true as well? And isn’t part of growing up, however painful it may be to accept, learning to spend more time with those of a similar age, as your interests slowly diverge from those of the 20-somethings? I think it is.

One Response to It’s a Young World

  1. Bluegreen Kirk on June 13, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Very well put! Some many want to not only relive the glory days but keep them going forever. In the end you will end up missing some of the best parts of your own life. As we age we learn more care more and become who we were meant to be. Those experiences as a 20 something is just that an experience and there are many more to be had.

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