Monday, October 18, 2010

Not Caring So Much What Others Think

I have always had a tendency to be optimistic. As a youngster, I remember a teacher criticized me for being a "Pollyanna" once and I had to look it up. Pollyanna was a fictional character who saw the bright side of things and the teacher wasn't being complementary. I really liked the teacher and felt a degree of shame in her comment. I tried not to be so upbeat.

Later, childhood friends would tell me that I was too cheerful in the morning. I love mornings and felt great when I was up early. One person even threatened to hit me the next time I said "good morning " to him. I got the message.

To please people, I would complain how rotten life was. I read all kinds of novels about things going wrong just when the protagonist thought they were going great. I hated those stories but I wrote them too. Life was a bitch and then you died. Then someone told me that I was a awful whiner and expected people to take care of me.

Since coming to Korea, I don't worry about what others think about me as much since I can't understand what others are saying. I have mentioned this before. One woman yelled at me over and over in broken English and I never did understand what she was mad at me about. Then while reading "The Summing Up" by W. Somerset Maugham I made up my mind that like the author I was not going to worry about what others think of me. It was one big waste of time. Of course, it took some doing on my part, but I worked on it.

For the most part, I am considered "the American". When I order a rice burger at a fast food restaurant, I hear the woman say: "Rice burger for the American." It is in Korean but I understand that much. Because I can rarely say anything that can be understood, I can only watch people and the events around me.

Today, I got on a bus to go home from Home Plus and the bus driver was in a very bad mood. He jerked the bus around angrily. He yelled at the drivers and when he stopped the bus at the stops he did it very suddenly. There were many older passengers who were having trouble standing up. At one point I grabbed a elderly woman so she would not fall. Different people were slipping and sliding. When he let me off the bus at my stop it was far away from so I had to walk on the street to get to where I had to go. I could not say anything. The average Korean would not say anything. It is considered rude and bus drivers get away with it, but even by everyday bus standards he was very bad.

I told someone recently that I am becoming more aware of myself as a person here. I used to spend so much time worrying what others thought of me and now I don't. I like this trend and hope it continues. I spend less time planning on how to express my anger and how to get even. It just does not make any difference anymore.

I sat on that bus today and there was nothing I could do but help people if I could. I could say anything to anyone. I was in a situation beyond my control and I accepted that. I did not get mad because I was in a country that was not mine and I could not speak the language and I did not understand what was going on. I went home and had a cup of coffee.

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