Posted in Personal, Rant, taekwondo, Uncategorized

Picking myself up and mending my wounds

Two weeks ago I went on a little adventure that turned out to be quite the rollercoaster. On Thursday I drove to my sister’s house in the evening and then we took the train together the next morning, headed to køge for the annual taekwondo summer camp. I was feeling really nervous and anxious which isn’t at all unusual for me however this time it was a bit worse as we were only 3 people – including me – from my club who had joined the camp this year and the 2 others were both there as instructors for the black belt team and the children’s team, which then leaves me ‘alone’ in my team. In fact, we saw each other so little that they were both surprised when they saw me at dinner on Saturday night and asked when I had arrived since they hadn’t seen me around.. Well.. I had been there since Friday morning, several hours before they themselves had arrived haha!

I had so much fun last year though, so I was determined to go this year as well even though I knew I would be on my own during all the lessons, as my sister doesn’t do taekwondo and was only there as a guest. Also, while taekwondo has triggered my anxiety many times before I know it’s only there before we actually start. The second we start lining up and gets ready to greet the giant 태극기 hanging on the wall and the 사범님 in charge, it completely vanishes in an instant.

And that was indeed what happened on Friday when we had our opening ceremony and our first lesson as one giant team. I had so much fun until the very last 10 minutes where we had to partner up, have a 10 second long(short?) fight and then the person to the left had to jump ahead to the next row and start over until we had had a fight with people from all belt colors and degrees. I was the person on the left which meant that I was the person to travel through the rows and it was fun and interesting until I got to the very last row. Everybody had been kind and smiling up until then and took it a bit more easy if they were fighting people from lower ranks. But the at the last row I was teamed up with a guy who is basically the 대사범님’s right hand. I don’t like him. And I say that coming from a personal point of view and not a professional. He is super talented and has been doing taekwondo for ages, but I don’t like him as a person – but I believe that’s a story for another day!

I generally don’t let my personal feelings and opinions take over so I greeted him with a big smile and in return, he looked at me like I was a piece of sh*t that he couldn’t even be bothered to deal with. The 10 second fight starts and I do my best even though I’m tired from already having done it around 15 times and he then dramatically rolls his eyes at me and starts yelling in my face “MORE MORE MORE” even though the 10 seconds is up and I have run down to the very back and start over with the white belts. He forced me into an uncomfortable situation where I had to either ignore him or ignore the 사범님 in charge who at the same time was yelling at me that the time had already ended.

That night I went to bed feeling really sad. I felt like I should have stayed home as I obviously wasn’t good enough. I didn’t deserve to be there. I tried reminding myself that it was totally okay to feel intimidated by him. He’s older than me, taller than me, broader than me and he has been doing taekwondo for more than 40 years compared to my 2 years. I tried so hard to stay optimistic but for some reason, that tiny little part of the lesson had erased all the joy I had felt about being there, even though the first 50 minutes of the lesson had been absolutely great.

Saturday morning I got up early with my sister, had breakfast and got ready for my first lesson of the day. The first lesson was about – you guessed it! Fighting! – and after the Friday lesson, I was dreading the entire thing even though this specific lesson was the one that I had been looking forward to the most.
The lesson was being taught by Nuno Damaso who is insanely talented and really good at teaching as well. Our team was from white to blue belts which meant that I, as a blue belt, were the second highest graded person on the team and therefore had to stand on the very first row, and I felt like such a fraud. I felt so strongly that I didn’t deserve standing all the way up there..

During this lesson we had a few uhm.. mishaps I guess. We were only wearing chest guards during his lesson because that was the main area we would be focusing on and he said we should be able to take a bit pain from blocking with our arms and legs (Head was off limits so headgear wasn’t relevant either) and we were all pretty much fine with it. However my partner had a few issues with his aim as he started to get tired and as a result, I was left with some pretty bad bruises everywhere and especially on both of my hips, as well as a bruised rib.

But it was fun. I had so much fun and forgot all about those depressing thoughts that had been haunting me since the previous night. My adrenalin was pumping and I felt so good after that lesson, that after our 15-minute break I jumped straight into the next lesson of the day and it wasn’t even until halfway through it that I realized how bad my injuries from the fight was. I obviously couldn’t see my bruises yet but due to my bruised rib, I was struggling a bit with breathing and moving in certain ways.

I still managed to power through and then I went to change my clothes for the lunch break. At this point, I knew that the 4th and final lesson of the day would be off the table as it was self-defense and involved at a lot of grabbing, punching and throwing, but I still thought I could power through the 3rd lesson after lunch as it was about stamina and explosivity and with no contact.
My sister was not agreeing though haha! She was immediately in mother mode and wanted me to stop for the day until we had a clearer idea of the injuries I had. I was determined to take one more lesson but when I grabbed my 도복 I noticed that the thread in my pants had broken and taking another lesson would 100% end up with my pants ripping and me flashing my behind to the entire team. I decided to take it as a sign from the universe, telling me that enough is enough. It could also be due to the fact that I have gained 9kgs since December but I would like to stick to the first explanation, hahahah!

In the end, I was out of the game for the last half of the weekend but I had a lot of fun watching all the classes from the side bench. On Sunday I met up with my Korean friend whom I had never met face to face before and when the camp officially ended my sister and I continued to Copenhagen where we stayed until Monday.  While sitting at a Starbucks with my sister, all the pictures from the camp got posted online and when I saw this picture of me it suddenly hit me why that first episode had been so rough on me. 

This picture was taken right as we were ending the fighting lesson on Saturday morning. A lesson that physically took a way bigger toll on me but take a look at my face. I was totally fine. And it hit me. On Friday I didn’t feel intimidated by his size, his strength nor his belt degree. I’m okay with the pain. I was feeling intimidated by him as a person. I felt he was attacking me and who I am, and not my body. I felt worthless and ridiculous.

And on Saturday it was the complete opposite. I got some somewhat bad injuries but my partner and I was smiling and laughing through the entire thing. We were cheering each other on and the instructor was as well.

I think everybody needs to remember this. You don’t have to act like a tough person or belittle people to stay ‘strong’. Smiling at people, cheering them on and telling them that they did a good job does not make you weak nor does it make your win any less of an accomplishment. You can be opponents and still be friends.

Posted in korea, Personal, taekwondo, TOPIK, Uncategorized

Overwhelmed but happy

Yesterday a kind follower sent me a message and asked me how I’m doing lately. It made me realize that I have been MIA for quite a while compared to normally and it also got me thinking about all the loose threads I currently have here. During the last month or so, so many things have happened and I’m not even really sure where to begin explaining but I’ll give it a try.
This post will probably be messy, long, study related and pretty personal. You have been warned.

Let’s start with my drivers license. I took my final drivers license test about a month ago and I passed despite driving in a small snowstorm for the first time and nearly peeing my pants from pure fear. The days up to the test day was an absolute nightmare. My anxiety was completely out of control and I couldn’t sleep or eat properly, which just makes the anxiety worse the following day.
I was so relieved that it was finally over but a few days later when I had to drive my boyfriends car for the first time, the panic started all over. Oh no, there’s no signs on the car letting other people know that I’m inexperienced – shit what if I make a mistake? – there’s no driving instructor to save me if I mess up – what’s that sound? – is it me or does the gear stick feels weird? – Did they let my pass by mistake?
I was starting to think that this part of my anxiety would never go away. My boyfriend however felt like the problem was easy to fix and a week  later he bought me a brand new car on my birthday. He figured that I would be way more relaxed in a new car since it’s safer and has more in common with the car I drove in during my driving classes. He was right. It took away more than half of my anxiety and that is how I ended up with my little red Suzuki.
I have now been driving more or less every day and while it is mostly just the short trip from home to work, I have actually been on a longer trip completely out of my comfort zone too. I am going to keep pushing myself and practice. Interchanges still freak my out like crazy. It scares the soul out of me. I guess it’s because I have to trust all the other cars in my lane, even more than I trust myself, and that’s just terrifying!
I would love to be able to drive to my hometown in may, and visit my family. I guess you could say that it’s my goal. But that’s like 220 kilometers and about a million interchanges away, so we’ll see. Ugh, scary!

Having my drivers license and a car means that I can finally start Taekwondo classes! I’m so excited about this even though I have no idea what to expect. I’m currently just waiting for new teams to start up so that I wont be the only person who knows just about nothing. I hope this will be a good way to get my body moving and tire it out a bit so I can control my anxiety a bit better. Or at least give me an opportunity to meet new people, show off my Korean skills and get out some of my work related frustrations! I’m hoping for a beginner class to start in April, and if not then I’ll probably just join the current class even though I’ll feel like an idiot. I worry that I’ll chicken out if I wait for too long.
Actually, I’ll write them a mail as soon as I finish this post and find out! I promise!

As for my anxiety in general. I have been in a really bad period since January and I have been struggling a lot with my anxiety. I believe it started due to this whole drivers license process. Since I passed the written exam in the middle of January I constantly had driving related activities and working full time at the same time probably didn’t make it better. It made me worry a lot about my Korea trip. You see, whenever I have a bad (like good ones exist) anxiety attack I promise myself that I will never ever again do something to make myself feel that scared again, and since I already know that flying will set off every bit of anxiety in my body, I have actually told myself to cancel the trip at least 20 times. But I wont.
Also, my boyfriend and I decided to tell his parents about my anxiety after keeping it a secret for ages. I guess I just wasn’t ready for the questions and the pity until now.
It turned out to be quite the emotional evening, but I’m happy that we did it. Now I don’t have to make up stupid excuses for being overly tired and quiet at times.
This reminds me of another new thing in my life. I started hypnosis therapy. Hypnosis is.. Odd? I’m not even sure what to say about it. In the beginning I really disliked the thought of hypnosis and the feelings it gave me, but I seem to be finding more and more comfort in that feeling now, and I think it might actually be helping me. I’ve been feeling better for the last 10 days or so. It’s still odd though. During my last session I clearly felt my body fall asleep while my mind stayed completely awake for several minutes. I heard myself snore slightly while listening carefully to my therapists words. If that’s not weird then I don’t know what is. Anyway, I’m starting to feel optimistic for the first time in a while! I’ll be bringing hypnosis audio files with me on the flights. Everything will be okay, and I will go to Korea no matter what.

As for the Korea trip, time is really starting to fly now! A little over 3 months to go! Phew.
My sister and I are finally starting to make more specific plans for our time in Korea as well as prepare some of the more practical things like the schedule for our departure day, looking into money exchange and what not. We are both incredibly excited at this point! It feels so unreal that we are actually going on the trip we have been planning for years. A few things have changed though. I will not be taking TOPIK 2 like planned in Korea. Basically it turned out to be a bit more complicated than it was in London so I just decided to postpone it and take it in London again next year. I don’t want more stress than necessary. I want TOPIK to stay like a good memory in my heart, so I’ll just wait a little longer.

As for studying, I have been doing a decent amount of studying however I honestly haven’t gotten much out of it. My studying have been insanely disorganized and random because I simply haven’t been able to focus on the same topic for a very long time. But I don’t really mind. I somehow enjoyed my random studies.
Oh yeah, I also forgot about the Italki language challenge!
My goal was to complete the 12 hour goal and I did! I got a diploma and everything. I still have my italki lessons twice a week and I seem to be gaining confidence in my speaking skills these days. That’s a pretty great feeling!
I have been reading a lot lately. It makes me feel really happy. I have been reading a few webtoons and some ebooks too. I have also been reading a ton of different blogs these days. I’m also still in the process of reading 빨강머리앤. I’ll be finishing it soon and I have truly fallen in love with this book.
I feel a pretty big urge to buy books lately. Study books as well as story books. I’m trying really hard not to though, since I know that I will be saving a ton of money if I can just wait a little longer. God give me strength!

Okay, now I’m just pointlessly ranting. I’m not sure if I have more relevant things to add. But then again, I guess none of this was really relevant unless you were wondering where I was.
Basically the last month or so have been sort of hell but I’m starting to feel better and happier.

I just want to leave this beautiful voice here for you guys to enjoy.

Posted in Personal, Uncategorized

Taking chances

Lately life has been forcing me to deal with a number of unforeseen situations and decisions which have caused me to see myself in another light. As some of you lovely people already know, I do suffer from anxiety as well as anxiety attacks and as a result of that there are certain things and situations that I try to avoid, however these days I simply haven’t had the option to. While I believe that I’m generally OK despite my (currently) high anxiety levels, I of course can’t deny that it does affect me and my studying in some ways. However, while feeling a bit discouraged I had a small talk with my sister. My sister is probably the person who knows me the best in this world, and she immediately got my mind back on track. She reminded me of all the chances I have been taking lately (though I didn’t quite have a choice) and I realized that I have handled these situations so much better than I would have in the past, and that made me see how much I have developed during the last year or so.
I then started to think about how I could develop my Korean skills and started thinking  about all of those chances that I never took. I don’t like to say something if I’m not sure it’s correct, I need to mentally prepare myself before calling or skyping with a new person and I have had several chances to improve my skills that I didn’t take because it seemed too scary and overwhelming. I’m just that type of person.
While thinking about this I was reminded of a recent experience. Back in September one of my close Korean friends sent me a message and asked me to meet up with his Sister and Dad
They were traveling in Denmark for a few days and traveled through Aarhus, a city relatively close to me.Now the funny thing is, despite having known my friend for 1,5 year now and having sent each others letters and packages several times, I have actually never talked to him in real life. And while I knew that he had a sister, I knew nothing about her whatsoever until the day before they were in town. Not even her name. It could have been a dangerous situation and I definitely had to think carefully about it. It was scary as hell but my friend thought it would be a great chance for me to practice my Korean as well as a chance for his family to get some insider knowledge about Denmark, and he couldn’t have been more right. In the end I agreed and on my 2 hour bus ride(the trains aren’t currently running in my area, so it takes forever to go to even relatively close cities) my anxiety went completely out of control. I constantly thought about getting of the bus but I didn’t. I ended up having a great afternoon, my anxiety vanished as soon as I met them and I got to practice my Korean, face to face with somebody, for the first time. It also made me aware of my flaws and showed me what I need to work harder on. We took a picture together that day, and whenever I look at that picture, I’m filled with excitement and a sense of pride and accomplishments.
I took a crazy and scary chance, and it turned out perfectly. I wanted more of that. Despite my anxiety, I want to take advantage of my personal development and take more of those chances.
So I did!
I ended up accepting a call through HelloTalk from a complete stranger, who was feeling bored and wanted to make friends. I got to practice my Korean with her for 45 minutes while doing the dishes. Pretty great!
I have a new coffee date coming up!
I also ended up filming a video, teaching another friend of mine how to make the classic Christmas stars and hearts that you can see all over Denmark next month. In Korean naturally!
Oh and let’s not forget that I somehow ended up in a promise involving rapping in Korean.. Yeah.. Don’t even ask..

I guess my point is that you truly need to challenge yourself in order to become better at anything. I’ll  make sure to work harder on this! 🙂

Well.. I guess I should go and practice my non-existing rapping skills. Yo!