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Age 23: Building (Year in Review)

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Looking back, this was a very long year.

As I post this, I’m in Korea packing up my entire life before moving away in 18 days. I’ve lived here three years, and honestly I’ve been mentally halfway out the door for most of this year. I’ve given up on the men, most of the friends, and a lot of the cultural aspects I’d previously put on a small pedestal. But I became an adult here; the fresh 21-year-old who arrived on the peninsula is not the same 24-year-old leaving it. Korea will always be a big part of my identity, in a strange way.

P.Chokko Seoul Cafe bars with tasting pieces

Some of My Favorite Parts of 23

  • Getting almost all the way back into shape; realizing that if I take care of my body, it will take care of me
  • My first few freelance gigs, all of which found me via my writing & are all paid opportunities!
  • Getting this site to the point at which it’s actually making a little money & bringing in some work (see above)
  • Going to chocolate events in Korea, and not only being known but accepted & valued as a knowledgeable contributor to the culture
  • Discovering love and appreciation for countries I’d previously basically written off (see: China)
  • Meeting up and connecting with chocolate lovers around the world in pursuit of creating the podcast I always wanted
  • Finishing 14 months of torturous accutane
  • Starting to serve ads on the site (which is related to my traffic goals being met & finally starting to earn a living online)

The Next Chapter

For over a year I’ve been trying to picture what it will really be like to step out of my 9-5 job in Korea and put myself fully into the unknown world of craft chocolate. It’s been a completely stress-filled last few months, with many moments dedicated to people beyond myself. This next year is what I’ve been working towards, so let’s make it happen.

New Countries Visited: 0! Goose egg! I went back to Japan twice, and returned to the US, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Taiwan.

Musical Obsession: Brazilian Funk (see: Vai Com A Bunda by MC Gustta; Anitta; Nego Do Borel) and to a lesser extent, Afro-beat and Caribbean music.

Biggest Change: pivoting towards a mashup of related travel & chocolate content in pursuit of a living wage in my desired field.

Favorite Picture I Took This Year:

The flower bed of a mature cacao tree on Rosit Cacao Farm in Davao City, Philippines. This picture immediately came to mind when thinking of the beauties I’ve shot this year.

Goals for 24

These tangible goals help keep me focused on the next experience I want to have, or how to spend my free time in a more intentional way.

  1. Actually fix and maintain my posture. Muscular and related skeletal issues have caused me a lot of pain and mental anguish over the last year. I’d like to blame it all on the accutane, but I’ve neglected my personal health in a big way, too, and I’ve been working hard the last three years so I could put that FIRST rather than continue to just grin and bear it.
  2. Deal with my anxiety and stress. I go to sleep unable to push away the thoughts and images of plane crashes or buses off-roading or sudden heart attacks. I wake up sleepier than the night before, with a tense jaw, a strained night guard, and toothaches. These issues are related to the aforementioned not-caring-for-myself, but it all comes down to putting myself first sometimes.
  3. Cultivate mindfulness.
  4. Build the foundation for posts which will earn an income a few years from now, as well as another related site. Test out the potential of translating information for non-English speakers.
  5. By this time next year, I’d ideally have the blog bringing in $1500 a month. This isn’t very accessible right now, unless I count freelance work, but it’s good to have goals.
  6. Cut down on my editing time for podcasts. It’s been over six months now, and while I’m not super concerned about the traffic, I am worried about how much time I spend editing each episode. The interviews take long enough to research, schedule, and do, already!
  7. Stop putting up with discomfort I can change. Whenever I have no way of escaping an uncomfortable situation, I take it as a personal offence, but when it’s self-inflicted or simple to get rid of, I almost always put it off (usually because I’m already in the middle of something). Examples: an uncomfortable sitting position, swishing mouthwash for 20 minutes because the sink is too far, holding in feelings. I need to grow the fuck up and git ‘er done.
  8. Go to a Latin Dance Congress every month or two while traveling! I’ve already got the first three planned out. Bring it on, 2020.
  9. Stay safe. As I leave the bubble of safety that is Korea, I do worry about my physical safety, as well as my mental health. So stay safe out there, people.

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