It started out as a hobby, for sure. An activity that I started on a whim and there was no guarantee that I was gonna stick with it after a few months. There was no strong resolve nor any particular goals that I wanted to achieve.
Studying Korean makes me happy, it was a challenge and mental stimulation that I welcomed and enjoyed. The more I learn, the more I love the language and the more expectations I have. I started to envision a goal, to be as good as the natives and I enjoy every bit of the learning. It was still a hobby, albeit one that I poured in a lot of efforts and energy.
Slowly but surely, Korean started to have an increasingly important and obvious impact in my life, such that many of my choices were heavily influenced by it. Decisions that were small, such as choosing to write about Korean in a school paper where we can have a choice of our topic. Decisions that were bigger, such as choosing to go Korea when I wanted to do an internship. I find myself yearning to go back to the country, and all my decisions were subconsciously pulling me towards that direction. I didn’t make any of these decisions based on a calculated move. Indeed, if I had thought about being pragmatic, I will probably not have done any of these.
I still call Korean as a hobby and I didn’t think much of having my decisions in life so influenced by my love of a language and culture. But 5.5 years down the road, I reached the crossroads.
Am I contented to have Korean just remain as a hobby? What does it mean to keep a foreign language as a hobby? What if I wanted more? What does it mean to pursue that “more”?
To be honest, I sacrificed a lot to do everything I did in pursuit of this “hobby”. It probably didn’t seem like that to you guys, but yeah, the journey wasn’t painless. It got to a point when I started wondering why am I doing so much and whether I should learn to let go and keep Korean as a hobby – the way normal people define hobby. It’s really like an identity crisis.
What does Korean mean to me?
At this stage, I think Korean has gone beyond being a hobby. It has become a defining part of my life and it is essentially something that people will associate with me, for good or for bad lol.
What I’m essentially doing is finding a place for myself in this world and I want to find it through the things I love. Pursuing Korean just seems right in my life and it keeps me feeling assured as I find myself and my own identity on the way.
Okay, writing this out helps a lot. I have been struggling with a lot of tangled thoughts and I guess I finally reach a conclusion. I needed to sort this out before I go. This identity crisis has stopped me from studying Korean these days because the question of “why am I doing this” keep popping into my head.
Now I’m all ready for the next chapter in my life!