One quarter of a century

That’s how long I’ve been on the earth as of today.

How strange.

This means I’m halfway to 30.

I’ve been out of college for 3 years.

I’m not married (not even close!), like I thought I would be by age 25 when I was growing up. But it’s okay, because now that I’m actually 25, I’m glad I’m not married. For now. (I would potentially like to be someday, but right now there’s so much else to do and think about!)

I feel like the difference between 23-year-old me and 24-year old me was incredibly vast. In that one year, I changed more than I had changed in the previous 5 or 6 years combined – not because of a change in external circumstances, but more as a result of my internal mindset/outlook shift.

This year, I am taking that new mindset/outlook that I’ve established and placing myself in vastly different external circumstances… almost to throw myself in the ocean and see if I’ll sink or swim with my new approach to life, in a way. We’ll see what further changes my 25th year will bring about.

Where will this year take me? Where do I go from here? I have no idea. But for the first time in pretty much ever, I don’t need to know. It’s okay. I’m not worried. I’m not stressing. I’m not anticipating. I’m not even planning. If you know me at all, right about now you might be asking, “Who are you and what have you done with Maddy?” To be honest, since coming to Korea I’ve asked myself that question many times. Sometimes multiple times in one day. I barely recognize myself. Which is a really, really weird feeling… but in a good way.

*     *     *

On a lighter note, here are some of the small happy/funny things from my day that I consider my unofficial birthday gifts:

  • I discovered I have a birthday buddy in one of my students. He told me it was his birthday and was both stunned and pleased when I told him today is my birthday too. Cute.
  • Another of the co-teachers who I don’t have a strong relationship with (due to seeing him only every 3rd Monday and Wednesday) told me today that he likes my classes. Breathe a deep sigh of relief with me now. Phew!
  • One of my students drew this picture – “Teacher, you!” I’m flattered. (The sentences around the picture are part of their in-class assignment to write advice for someone who wants to be healthy and advice for someone who wants to have many friends using the phrase “I think it is important to…”)

I think it accurately represents me ^^

  • No one made a marijuana joke. Not. One. Person. You have no idea how refreshing this is for someone whose birthday is 4/20. Which, for those who are unaware, is not only National Pot Day in the USA, but also Hitler’s birthday. Quite unfortunate. So it’s rather nice to not have anyone comment about how I must really enjoy celebrating my birthday, harharhar wink wink nudge nudge. Since coming here, I’ve also happily discovered I share my birthday – including the year – with Luhan of EXO. Much nicer to think about than sharing with Hitler.
  • The picture below is what one of my 2nd grade kids wrote on the back of his frequency worksheet (“How often do you XYZ?”), which he had dutifully completed. 20150420_150927He then proceeded to ask innumerable times for the remainder of the class, “근데, 샘, 한번만. 닥 한번만,” (“Kunde, saem, hanboman. Dak hanboman” = “But Teach, once. Just once”), followed by a stream of earnest Korean that I couldn’t fully understand but it was so cute that he thought I could. The gist of it being, of course, that he wanted me to write my phone number. “No, no. I am your teacher, and you are my student,” I explained to him multiple times (let alone the fact that I’m, y’know, 10+ years older than you). “Teacher, I need it! Do you understand?” (He was now following me out of the classroom after the end of class, still asking in Korean and English.) “I understand, but no, you don’t need it and I can’t give it to you.” He finally gave up after following me almost all the way back to my office. So funny.

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As far as official birthday gifts, my co-teacher surprised me with cake, coffee, bread, a card, a tiny bouquet, and a small gift. I told her my birthday way back in February and she remembered all this time – she even brought candles for me to blow out after she and another teacher sang happy birthday. Way too sweet. I was so touched.


That box contained a delicious piece of blueberry cheesecake which I unfortunately devoured before I thought of taking a picture. She gave me a pretty hair tie and a four leaf clover key chain to represent “break a leg” – an inside joke between us because it’s one of the idioms we taught our 3rd graders.

I am seriously so blessed to have her as my co-teacher (the one I happen to share an office with, just the two of us, at my smaller school). She’s been like my Korean mom here, always making sure I have food and helping me with extra things outside of school. Such a wonderful person.


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