Tag Archives: female independence

being married to me… a story about learning to love myself…

If you’re not new to A Little Bit Brave, you know that I’m all about me. I don’t say that to sound selfish, but instead to make a point – I am all about doing what is best for me, not making my decisions to please someone else.

Thanks to my time in Korea, I’ve learned a lot about what it means to be and feel confident. I’ve learned to appreciate and embrace my independence. Two years ago, I decided I wanted to make a statement, so I got a tattoo to represent that I was married to me:

This was something that made me feel powerful – like I could do anything and be the woman I had always dreamed of. It doesn’t mean that I absolutely never want to get married; it just means that I know I have to love myself first.

Self Love is Real

Last fall, after showing off my tat to a new friend and talking about living a single life abroad, she emailed me a video a few days later that encapsulated a lot of what I have been trying to say all along.

So much of what Ms. McMillan states is what I’ve felt for a while now. I couldn’t relate to everything, but there was one thing that stuck out more than any other: I have to love myself first.

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a little bit brave… life and love in the land down under…

Reader, I’m so excited to share the next installment of my series, “A Little Bit Brave.”

Each month, I’ll be posting an article by another blogger who took a leap and moved themselves away from everything that was familiar to find the next “right” step in their life. You can read other women’s stories here.

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Koalas. Kangaroos. Australia has this amazing mystique about it. It always has for me. I remember when I was 14 or 15, my mum told me she just had this feeling I would live far away when I grew up. I’ve always had an adventurous heart, but I can honestly say that I never expected anything to end up like this.

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When it came time to go to university, I left my parents’ house in Shawnee, Kansas to go two hours away to Kansas State. It was basically like high school, round two. Which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but wasn’t without its challenges. The day after we moved in, I played football with my roommate and two new friends. One of these friends would impact my life in a big way, and give me the illusion of a safety net that would help me to jump into the best decision of my life. 

I decided in December 2008 that I was definitely going to study abroad in Australia for my sophomore year. The whole year. Not the measly six months everyone else did. I wanted the full cultural experience. I was now also dating this previously-mentioned friend. I was in love. So I packed my two suitcases. Whoever invented the 50lbs/23kg limit never knew a 19-year-old girl packing for a full year. You have to be able to have nice things to go out.. Aussie summers are hot… Nobody has central heating… It’s a delicate balance!

I fell in love with Australia. Head over heels in love with Australia. But how could I stay? About as soon as I landed back on American soil, I was homesick. I can’t explain the tie this country has to my heart, but I knew I had to find a way back. I was prepared to make plans to leave my family, everything I really knew, to spend exorbitant amounts of money on finishing my degree, and to create a life halfway around the world.

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a little bit brave… and uncertain

Reader, I’m so excited to share the next installment of the “A Little Bit Brave” series.

Each month, I’ll be posting an article by another blogger who took a leap and moved themselves away from everything that was familiar to find the next “right” step in her life. You can read more of the series here.

So, without further ado, here’s a little bit brave… and uncertain. Enjoy. :)

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At 27 years old, I had finally decided it was time to test my wings. Like a free-spirited bird, I jumped from my nest with hopeful abandon. I spread my wings wide to the open sky and embraced the tickle of the wind in my feathers. And then I plummeted straight to earth.

At 26, life had been pretty comfy-cozy. I thought I had finally made it. I had the job, the car, the downtown apartment, and the professional wardrobe of my poor girl dreams. I had the PTO and the 401(k) and the HSA. I had the friends and the family and the kind of coworkers you actually look forward to seeing every day. I thought I had it all.

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So why did I feel like I was suffocating in a glass coffin every night as I lay in bed? Why did I want to scream and pound my fists against those imaginary walls as I tried not to cry myself to sleep? Why did I feel like everyone was skipping around outside my prison while I lay buried alive?

Perhaps I needed therapy, but all the psychobabble in the world wouldn’t have been able to tell me more than I already knew. I was simply afraid. It was fear that put me to bed every night and lingered with me as I went to work every morning. It was fear that made me dread waking up thirty years later only to realize I was still going to work every morning. It was fear that kept me wondering if I would hit retirement only to regret all the years I had worked to save for it.

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I spent eleventy-five hours on a bus… and it was worth it…

Sometimes I do semi-cool stuff in Korea. And then, like the forgetful person I am, Reader, I forget to tell you about it.

For example, I still haven’t told you all about my cool, overnight journey to Gyeongju – the nation’s capital for nearly 1,000 years during the Silla dynasty and, as a result, is home to tons of tombs for the reigning kings of the time. I’m still not going to tell you about it today because I have a more recent story to tell. Don’t worry – I’ll get around to that one eventually.

A few weeks ago, I went to zip line in the Han River valley and trekked a bit in Seoraksan National Park. Unfortunately, it rained on hiking day, so my friend and I didn’t get into the park very far. (Hiking in the rain totally sucks, dude, and I’m not about to be soaked on a four-hour return bus ride.) Despite the short hike, it was still incredibly beautiful and none of my photos do it justice.

On the first day, we took a bus from Seoul for about 4.5 hours… Getting out of Seoul (or into Seoul, for that matter) is always a pain in the ass. Traffic is THE WORST. Our giant greyhound-esque bus nearly blew out two tires trying to make up time trekking up onto the mountain where the zip line was. After a less-than exciting fast food lunch, some lounging around to digest, and then a long wait in line, we finally made our way down the longest zip line in Korea.

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to all the brave girls out there… this is for you…

When I started “A Little Bit Brave” in early 2013, I meant for it to chronicle my experiences living and teaching abroad for what I thought would be just a single year. Since it’s inception, my hopes for the blog have changed and grown.

I had started a couple of blogs a few years before during a very difficult period in my life and I hadn’t really shared them with anyone… I complained a lot and, in my defense, was experiencing some pretty serious depression. After what seemed like an eternity of difficult years working shitty jobs and feeling like I was drowning in a sea of depression, I set out on a new adventure: teaching English in South Korea. I felt like I was truly embarking on a new chapter in life, finally, and seeking the happiness I so desperately had been searching for over the past few years. I deemed my leap to move halfway across the world to teach English as being “a little bit brave,” and so the title was born.

Since starting the blog, I have tried (not always successfully) to share some of my cultural experiences here in Korea. Despite my poor blogging habits, I’ve also rediscovered my love of writing. I found my voice again and started sharing my opinions on things, wrote about things I think are funny or that will make you, Reader, laugh. I also realized that there are other women out there whom I truly respect and admire. The internet is a scary and beautiful thing – it has opened a door to me that I didn’t bother to open before.

All across our world, women are taking steps that are leaps for them. They are writing their own stories and making their own rules.

They are a little bit brave.

After finishing a series telling the story of my journey to Korea, I wanted to keep the “series” habit going, so I reached out to a friend about doing a guest post about her “brave” story. After two of these posts by two awesome women living and working in Asia (you can read them here and here), my plan for the blog evolved yet again.

In asking these women to write and starting the recruiting process to find others, I started thinking about women I know back home in the Americas: many of my friends in the States hadn’t left the shores of our homeland, and yet I knew they were still living and writing brave stories of their own. Suddenly, it was clear to me that “A Little Bit Brave” wasn’t just supposed to be about me. It wasn’t just supposed to be about other women who had left their homeland to find an adventure. It was about all women who were taking leaps and risks, no matter where they were. 

We live in a time where women are becoming more empowered and encouraged to take these risks. It’s time that we embraced this and shouted our stories into the wind.

It is my hope that this blog will be a place of empowerment and encouragement for women of all ages. No matter where you are in life, no matter your story, this is a place for you. We are women and we are strong. I hope you find the story here that will convince you to take your own leap and start writing your new story.

We may not be fearless, but we are a little bit brave.

*This post was written partly in response to WordPress’s The Daily Post: Singular Sensation.

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