Both my parents went to Seoul National University, the most prestigious university in South Korea. My mother is a recently retired former educator and my father is a tech executive. Undoubtedly, my parents lead a fairly successful life. And succeeding wasn’t just encouraged of me, it was expected.
But did I succeed? Not so much. I used to do well in elementary school, but I started falling behind in middle school. South Korea is very academically competitive and I couldn’t adjust myself to that. I could write a dissertation about what is wrong with Korean school system, but I won’t go into that right now. Long story short, I didn’t get into the prestigious high school that my mom wanted me to go to because my grades were bad. Maybe that’s why I didn’t adjust well in the high schools that I did end up going. I bounced around several high schools before I eventually dropped out and took an equivalency test.
I attended Konkuk University. Still a very good school and I’m proud of it, but not as prestigious as my parents’ alma mater. I am a B+ student overall. No honor roll or anything. I kind of regret going to the university as soon as I could. I feel like 19 was too young to decide on my life path. I studied Physics and Computer Science. Both I enjoyed, but now I’m almost decided that I’m not going to pursue a career in either. I only chose it because everyone said STEM is good. I honestly do not see myself in STEM field. I still haven’t graduated. I took a leave of absence in my fourth year because I felt like my life was going nowhere and it was driving me crazy. Becoming a college graduate when I don’t know what I’m doing at all was terrifying. I just had to halt.
I attribute some of my underachievement and lack of direction to my clinical depression. This is not me deflecting responsibility and accountability and placing the blame elsewhere; this is me acknowledging an issue so I can correct it. Until now I thought my “goal” was supposed to be something else, and therapy was something I had to do on the side. It truly was a vicious cycle where I lack drive because of depression and that in turn worsens my depression. I now realize that I can’t go forward without healing, so recovery is my main goal. I’m past the idea that I must be doing something substantial and be in love with it at all times. I’m just trying to feel better, and I’m taking everything else as I go.
I now work full time as a CAD technician. A pretty sweet gig for someone without a degree. But it’s not something I plan on pursuing. I don’t know what I’ll do, but this isn’t it. I’m just doing it to fund my psychiatric treatment and hobbies. Other things I’m doing includes blogging (duh) and learning music. I now realize that I am a creative, and while STEM, especially computer science, requires creativity, it doesn’t fulfill my creative drive. I don’t know if I’ll have a career in music, but I’m enjoying it very much. Worrying about career and future is my number one source of anxiety, and for now I need to put it aside to get a grip on my mental health.
So hi. My name is Jihyun. Thank you for reading my rambles to the end. It probably doesn’t make sense, but it felt good to put my feelings into words.