So What Do You Do When Your Light Has Been Dimmed?

I wrote something a few days ago, but upon rereading it, it just didn’t feel right. So, I deleted it. Being totally honest, I’m a solid six months behind on entertaining all 35 of you who might read this with what apple picking in Asia is like and about two weeks behind on a post about a botanical garden.

I’ve always been a controversial person, and I might as well just own it at this point. For all the gal pals, pen pals, and platonic soulmates I have are just as many who wish I were dead and would be really excited if I were gone. That’s probably a little too morbid to post here, and saying that probably falls under the “don’t post that on social media” category, but it’s totally true.

I’m old enough and wise enough to embrace authenticity and vulnerability, but I’m still not strong enough to not be affected by the negative blowback that comes with emotionally exposing myself to others. I’d say it’s a work in progress, but the truth is that I’m too sensitive and it would probably have to take years, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and some really incredible licensed professionals to cure me of caring too much. It’s how I was made, and I absolutely hate it. No, it is not pure and good and sweet. It is a curse to be made like this and walk this Earth.

So, what’s wrong with me? That’s a fantastic question that many people think and ask me. If you were a therapist, I’d be able to start a new fantasy series that could outshine Harry Potter with how much I could overshare. But this time, I just don’t know. I know I was made a little too sensitive (understatement), but I think the light has been officially dimmed.

I say dimmed because I’m trying to be optimistic. Everyone loves a glow up and a ballsy power move. Leveling up both inspires and enrages others. But really, I think the flame has been blown out. I don’t know, everyone. I’ll surely fake it for the masses, but it’s just…gone.

This is the kind of stuff Instagram self-care posts tell you to “reach out” to others. Probably nothing a Lush bath bomb can’t fix, yeah? But…no. There’s just no accurate way to describe it. I don’t even go to Shake Shack anymore. There’s one literally one stop away from me. I won’t even bother to go. It was once my dream of being so close to one. I don’t even think two shack doubles and a salted caramel shake could fix this. I don’t even care anymore about those tearjerking YouTube videos that chronicle the “saving” of a “defeated stray” who is now frolicking in the grass in some California subdivision.

I think a couple of things broke me. First, spending my entire life hoping to achieve my goal of achieving something. Second, dare I say it? Living in South Korea. More accurately, the pressures that come with living here.

I spend my entire life obsessing over being noticed and having a semi-normal milestone. I’ve been doing this since 2006, so it’s a really ingrained habit. I think it’s because I was forced to live in Syracuse, and I hated it. I feel like I missed out on the best years of my life by being stuck in a place where I didn’t fit in. For just as much as I hated Syracuse, it hated me back. I did all sorts of stuff to “be normal” and try to live a life that I wanted to live in New Jersey. And by “be normal”, I mean try to move to China at 18 (hey, it’s not Syracuse!) and eventually packing my bags for the Czechs at the age of 20. I think all my crazy all over the world/who knows/once in a lifetime whatevers happened because I really just wanted to find a way back to my nice boring little New Jersey suburb. I always just wanted to be average. I know that’s not something you are supposed to say. You’re supposed to have a knee jerk reaction to the “What do you want to do with your life?” question. You’re supposed to scream “I WAS MADE FOR GREATNESS”. You’re not supposed to be content with being a halfway administrative whatever (the corner office was not made for me!) and being perfectly content with going to Target on the weekends.

But, I don’t think I was made for greatness. I don’t want any of this “experience” stuff. I just want to be like everyone else. I don’t want to hear a spiel on how “everyone else” doesn’t really exist. You know what I mean. I don’t want to be zig zagging down mountains in Laos, and no I don’t want to deal with the corrupt Czech police again. I am tired. I am boring, or at the very least, I want to be boring. I want to be boring and simple. I am sorry to disappoint you all. I was not created to be your dinner party entertainment because the cost of global pursuits is exhaustive isolationism and it’s just not worth it. Don’t believe Instagram. Yes, the water is warm and clear but it toys with your digestive system. There’s nothing wrong with just going to Disney World. It’s the happiest place on Earth, I promise. Just put on your flannel pajama pants and watch The Office once more. It’s okay. Really. I want to be you.

But there’s no turning back now. I am who I am. I’m certainly not boring like I pray to be (God, why do you keep ignoring this prayer request?), but I’m plenty annoying and chaotic and it is not fun to be me. And now my light is dimmed so I think I am just a shell. And now I really have none of the answers and I think it’s far deeper of a problem than inspirational 3AM TikToks on your “For You” page.

So I keep doing things in the hopes of achieving milestones so I can be like everyone else because I live this alternative life I never really truly wanted to live. I already work with small children so I don’t have the “baby urge”, and I have wayyyy too many self-esteem issues from past dating experiences to ever consider walking down the aisle. Therefore, other than having a dog, which lots of normal people have, I will probably never get to have another normal life experience. So, I really care about little things like birthdays, Thanksgiving, and the possibility of making a real s’more at a campfire. It’s all the little benchmarks I can have because I am afraid I will never have a chance to live the traditional life I have always wanted.

No questions asked, I’m totally the black sheep of the family. I’m already “that one”. I have enough self-awareness to know that there aren’t even any expectations placed on me. Forget it, my life is just chaos in Asia. I never get any poking, intrusive questions. For all anyone is concerned, I’m two steps away from living off the grid in a yurt. I can be some fun magical creature in a faraway land, but I spent Christmas and New Years’ completely alone.

I guess you can say I leveled up my life and got a better job and apartment. It’s so silly to say this now, but oh my God, I was so proud of myself. Like, I can’t even explain it….I really felt like I won the lottery. It was this moment, (because the job and the housing are attached) that I felt like I had “made it”. I was like the classic “Nintendo 64” kid. Despite all of my screw ups, failures, wrong turns, delays, and closed doors, God finally opened one teeny tiny little door for me. It was at the very end of a dusty hallway, but it was a door, it was open, and it was…finally mine.

In 2021, I learned that under no circumstances should you ever care what someone thinks and you should definitely go around pretending that you were always detached and too cool, even when you were awkward and really wanted to play with the neighborhood kids in, like, 1994. You should absolutely, positively never ever consider how another human might feel about you or react to you. You should “just do you” all day, every day, and it’s totally better to be petty and alone than real and apologetic. No wonder why everyone is depressed.

But, obviously, I lack crucial social skills that make me legit in the current year. I totally care about people and not even just ones in fiction. Gross, right? That’s where I fail. I care about people, and I do care about what the people I care about think of me. I want the people I care about to think I’m a human of value. I want them to accept me and even laugh at some of my cringey jokes on occasion. I want them to think I’m nice and attractive and smart enough to successfully cross the street (which in South Korea is more challenging than you’d think). I, also, in full honesty, really want them to be proud of me, despite me probably ruining my life by living a nontraditional life. I want a couple people on this planet to think I’m actually a little cool, and I’d be honored if someone saw a Shake Shack, an avocado, or a small white dog that just doesn’t know when to stop and thought of me and smiled.

And I really, really, really wanted to make everyone proud on this little “upgrade” of mine, this little tiny open door at the far end of a dusty hallway. I wanted people to think that there was hope for me and that I too can do good things in this life. And here I am, committing a horrible internet sin. You are not supposed to care what others think because it is none of your business and a waste of your time. But I’ve always secretly hated that attitude because I think other people are what make our life an actual life and it’s really nice to think of people you consider special and know that you could totally call them and they would be happy to hear from you. I guess I should get fired or doxxed or whatever flogging people like to do when it comes to internet sins these days. But yeah, something special happened to me, and I wanted people to be proud of me and I was proud of myself. No, it wasn’t enough that I was proud of myself. Why is it so horrible to not want to do EVERYTHING alone all the time?

And it’s not like no one was proud. No, of course not. I’m totally loved by other people. I’m the one who is my own worst critic. But I was just openly giddy and on cloud nine and just wanted to commemorate this little door opening. Maybe with mac and cheese or, well let’s just continue to be honest, another round at Shake Shack. But I was told I was entitled. I don’t know, internet. After that, the light dimmed and I just checked out of life.

That’s also a really stupid thing to admit. Shouldn’t I be offended about the 3642647832647236784 existing things to be offended about that already exist? Surely, I could just blindfold myself and spin around a few times and I could point to some problem written on a wall and start a unique Twitter account just for said problem. Why should I care what others think of me? It’s *my* life and *my* success. If this offends me, how would I fare when the zombie apocalypse finally comes? Well, surely, I’d be the first to go.

But I just kind of hate me and my life and kind of everything about it. I’m not proud anymore. Maybe I’m just an imposter and it’s a matter of time before everyone finds out that I have no idea what I’m doing. When I come home, I’m not really “there”. I stopped caring about decorating the place. I tried to have better self-esteem by going to a convenience store and buying post-its and filling half a wall with positive affirmations in different colors, as if that would do the trick. I look at phrases like “I am enough”, “I will not compare myself to strangers on the internet”, “I choose to be proud of myself and the things I choose to do”, and the most ironic one, “When I allow my light to shine, I unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”

I bought this little stand for my oven and I even bought a hand mixer and I was really excited to be a better cook and baker. But, my food and baked goods were just…trash. And you know what? I hate this so much. I hate Light Dimming, and Light Dimmers are the worst. As an educator, I hope to squash any and all Light Dimming and pray that I never ever ever ever ever ever dim some child’s (or anyone’s) little light. Even the ones that really test my patience. Even the ones that I secretly don’t know what they’re good at. It’s just my job to love them to the best of my ability and maybe they’ll do some kind of flourishing under me. It’s the best I can hope for.

As I continue to prattle on an embarrassing blog post and look at all the inspirational post-its on my wall, I just continue to sit here and hate everything I made for myself in the last six years. Why am I even here? I don’t hate Korea, but I’m just…not even here. I’m not excited about my neighborhood and I don’t want to make a little apartment video for everyone back home. I’m not proud of myself anymore. I’m sorry. I’m just kind of a waste of undeserving space these days.

And I think I have all these self-esteem issues because the bar is set so high in this country. I’m never ever “enough”. I am 5’8″ and 56kg and it’s still barely good enough. My clothes are never enough, and my skin still has pores, and I’ll never be as pretty as the 7 billion other people on Instagram who are liked first because I forgot to tweeze my eyebrows for a couple days and I never have identical eyelined eyes. I’m just…a person. And I am supposed to be perfect, always. And there is always someone better than me. And I am never enough. I don’t eat enough (I honestly don’t even have the appetite. I really wish I did.), I don’t dress cool enough, my food isn’t tasty enough, I probably work too much but still not enough like everyone else in Korea, and my apartment is still a tiny studio even though it was my dream to have this.

And now I’m checked out and unappreciative, and I’m sure that makes God really, really happy with me because it’s not like I don’t have a list of sins that could go around the world. Clearly, let’s just add “has no gratitude” to the list. Excellent. I’m sure more blessings are waiting for me with my attitude, but you know what? It’s honestly just physical at this point. It’s not even just emotional. E.T. can’t phone home this time.

Light Dimming, if ever, should be done by bitter nine year olds whose parents are going through a nasty divorce. You shouldn’t dim peoples’ light. Let people be happy. Let people shine. Let people have their little hopes and dreams and let their little freak flags fly. Celebrate people. Except now I think all my friends hate me because I’m just a raincloud with no light. I am the sad unreliable friend who can’t make the phone call because I don’t want to be a turd on the other line. I have nothing left to give, internet. I have reached hopelessness, and I am sorry. I am so sorry. I have failed everyone because it is all I know what to do. I just don’t think I’ll ever get it right. I just…for a short period of time…really thought there was hope. In an abundant universe, I really, honestly and truly, thought there was a little special life just for me.

And I really, really miss feeling grass.

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21 thoughts on “So What Do You Do When Your Light Has Been Dimmed?

  1. Hello. We don’t know each other, but I follow your blog. We’re all living in unusual, challenging times, so I understand and I feel blue sometimes, too. When I’m not feeling great about myself, I remind myself, “Treat yourself with kindness and compassion.” In other words, be your own best friend. No one is expecting you to be perfect. Please take good care of yourself. Things will get better!! Believe in yourself. Sending you a big (virtual) hug 🤗

    1. guacandrollinseoul April 10, 2021 — 9:40 am

      Hey, thank you so much for writing this. Sorry, I haven’t been my best self lately. It’s strange how we as a society show more love to people in cyberspace than the ones right in front of us. Anyway, reading your words put a small smile on my face. Making small progress and taking baby steps. I wish you so much love and happiness and I’m keeping you in my prayers.

      1. Thank you 🙏🏼

  2. Your post is relatable in so many ways. It’s fine to feel down just don’t let that rule everything you do. Even if that feeling hums in the background. Honestly we’ve all built a world based on utter rubbish. Traditional goals and unrealistic expectations are damaging people and the environment. Find out what makes you happy and ignore people who try to put their expectations on you. There’s a big difference between people who lovingly criticise to help you and those who want you to conform and be like everyone else. You have to trust your own instincts to find out who’s toxic and who has your best interests at heart. Anyways I know I don’t know you but, I do hope you feel better soon. Sending you a big hug especially if you made it to the end of my rant. I just feel so pissed off for you.

    1. guacandrollinseoul April 10, 2021 — 9:43 am

      Thanks for writing this. Sending big hugs back. Sometimes it is hard to discern who is on our team and who is not. I definitely struggle with this. I appreciate your rant.

      1. I had to let go of so many people because of this. It’s definitely hard but, I hope you do find your tribe. All of us deserve good friends. Take care.

      2. guacandrollinseoul April 17, 2021 — 8:05 am

        I’m at this point not. Thank you.

  3. My light seems to have been dimmed for quite some time. I am waiting for it to return to something close to what it used to be.

    1. guacandrollinseoul April 10, 2021 — 9:44 am

      I am so sorry. What happened? I want you to shine.

  4. It’s possible you are my distant kin. Lol. You have simply described me over my lifetime. I am 42 though so I am FINALLY able to be my boring self. I have never achieved “greatness nor have I ever wanted to. I am an empath as well but the world changed me. I am gaining my grounding at my age. I don’t know your age but I do hope you come to accept that all you go through, you grow through.

    1. guacandrollinseoul April 10, 2021 — 9:47 am

      It’s funny because you really never know with the six degrees of separation and all. Ha. I am 32. I liked your last line. I’m going to keep repeating that one. I am an empath as well, and I hate it. Thanks for reaching out to me.

  5. Woah so deep and filled with emotion. You write so well.

    1. guacandrollinseoul April 10, 2021 — 9:49 am

      Thanks. It’s probably the realest post I have on here.

      1. My pleasure.

  6. hey nice to meet and your honesty in your posts.
    Thanks for following!
    Stay in touch.
    I’m now following you.

    1. guacandrollinseoul April 10, 2021 — 9:49 am

      Thank you. I look forward to reading your stuff as well.

      1. you’re welcome!
        I thought you already were?

  7. I know what it’s like to not fit in. I was born on the wrong side of the US and currently I live in an area that I find completely uninspiring. I’d much prefer to live elsewhere, but that’s not possible so I make the best of what I have where I have it. But there are days when I could just cry (or scream) in frustration. I love Seoul! However, I imagine it can be a hard place to be sometimes, like any big city. I hope you’re feeling better and I look forward to reading more of your blog.

    1. guacandrollinseoul May 5, 2021 — 5:49 pm

      Thanks so much for taking the time out to write this. Sometimes I wish we could just automatically be transported to where we need to be.

  8. If it helps any, there are no answers 🙂 Only questions. More help? The same is true for everyone else, in greater or lesser degree. True for me at least. And that is everyone.

    1. guacandrollinseoul May 5, 2021 — 5:54 pm

      You are definitely not wrong. None of us have the answers. I feel like we are all just fumbling around until we hit some kind of AHA moment. ♡

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