I begin this post with words from a national and global treasure, the late Maya Angelou.
Thank you Dr. Angelou!
Worst case scenario: I have the corona virus. Everyone I've come in contact with in the last ten days has the virus and I am shamed by my coworkers for having ever stepped foot out of Sejong. I die alone in a foreign country.
Best case scenario: I am virus free and my ears stop itching, with thoughts of my name being thrown around the teacher's office between pity and hidden chuckles.
Those were my thoughts Tuesday morning, before I went to get tested for covid-19. Skrrrrrrrt! Why TF did I have to get tested for CORONAVIRUS!?*Cardi B voice*
*Sigh* I wrote a story about it! Like to read it? Here it go!...
On May 1st 2020, I and a friend arrived at Yogsan Station at 2:05pm.
After about twenty minutes of being lost, we found the bus stop for the bus that would take us to a stop near Noksapyeong station. There, we spent maybe an hour eating at a Mexican restaurant.
We crossed the street and took another bus and got off in Gangnam.
I waited outside the Apple store for about 35 minutes, while my friend purchased a phone. We walked over to H&M, where we spent maybe 25 minutes. We went back to the Apple store (lol)...another 20 minutes.
We went to Gongcha for bubble tea (yum!)...Another 40-45 minutes or so.
We walked for ten minutes, hailed a taxi to Seoul Station, booked the train tickets via Korail app on the way there.
At 7:49 pm we were on the train back to Sejong. Home by 9:30pm.
Why did I just just give a play-by-play of my less than six hour trip to Seoul? Because...this was (supposed to be) a simple errand for a phone!!! Not a death sentence!! *cue dramatic piano*
Seriously...If you live in Korea I expect that you know, but if you don't (live in Korea) there's been a second wave of the virus here, which allegedly began at a nightclub in Itaewon (one stop from Naksapyeong) and is the start of a sudden increase in cases. As expected this is worrying, as citizens believed they had seen the worst, after several days of minimal increases. Here's an article for extra reference!
Now let's fast forward to Monday, May 11th. At about 2:30pm I recieved a phone call from my co-teacher. She asked me about my trip to Seoul: "Were you only in Gangman?" I reply, "Yes, only Gangnam". But the moment I hung up the phone, I remembered the Mexican restaurant we ate at near/in Itaewon.
(Sidebar: The thing is..this resaurant is a bit far from the "action" in Itaewon and the Itaewon subway station. Is it still condsidered Itaewon? Probably *eye roll* but ugh!)
Before I call her back, I text my friend and ask if she had been questioned. She had not.
I called my c0-teacher back. "The Mexican restaurant I went to was in Itaewon. Sorry!" NOW...this is the first (and not last) instance in this ordeal where I was ready to throw hands, in the name of sniches get stiches! My former co-teacher said, I had said I went to Itaewon....................
I. WAS. HOT.....LORDT.
But, she wasn't lying. On Monday, May 4th, on the way to lunch, I told her I ate in Itaewon.
My (current) co-teacher took the information gracefully...but I'm sure there was chatter amongst her and the other subject teachers in the teacher's office.*eye roll*
She came to my office to speak with me. From the time she entered until the moment I bursted into tears, I don't remember what was said.
Yes..I bursted into tears. Fun fact: I am a crybaby. And all it takes is an unwanted confrontation for the waterworks to flow...Govern yourself accordingly!
"Because I'm a foreigner....." I said in Korean.
That was literally me!! My co-teacher rushed to my side to hug me. How risky! *shaking my head* But I was grateful for the genuine comfort.
I cried because I was overwhelmed. I cried because I felt guilty. I cried becuase I didn't want to be talked about, gossiped about, or pitied. Maybe I cried because I thought this was an attack on me as a foreigner living in a homogenous society. (And with the recent and continuous war on racisim, I was a bit more vulnerable than usual).
Fade in Jonathan McReynold's "People." (If you still have not heard the song/album, I officially ban you from reading the rest of this post and future post on this blog until you listen to it!!! BYYYYYYE!)
"Miya! This is not personal. We care about you. We care about your safety. Don't think about the other teachers! Think about yourself."
There were many teachers, native and foreign, in my city who were also in Seoul that same weekend and needed to get tested. For some reason having to get tested felt like a punishment.
But getting tested was the only way to be certain. So for my school, my principal, and myself, I greed to do it.
Healthwise I felt great, but I was riding an emotional roller coaster.
I kept telling myself, "this is not personal" over and over and over and over.
Then I came to the realization that I take a lot of things personal that I shouldn't. LIKE EVERYTHING!
Someone doesn't greet me? They're mad at me.
Someone cancels plans? I'm not important to them.
Someone tells me I'm selfish? They must be right...
Because here I am only thinking about my own feelings and not theirs!
Storytime!: Last Friday on the bus home, I sat behind the bus driver. It was quite hot and he didn't have the A/C on so naturally, I opened the window. Less than five minutes later, while at a stoplight, the driver looks back at the open window and then proceeds to close it, without a word.
I immediately felt bad and could not stop thinking about it the entire ride home. I even googled "how to not take things personally" and found this!
I will list the writer, Marelisa's tips below, but please click the link for the detailed article.
8 Ways to Stop Taking Things Personally
1. Question your beliefs.
2. Stop worrying so much about what other people think of you.
3. Become more confident.
4. Think: "Troll-Delete."
5. Be too busy to care.
6. Stop giving your power away.
7. Don't drink the poison.
I tried to look at things from the bus driver's perspective. The only plausable reason I could come up with was that he was cold, becuase his window was already open? Who knows!? It probably had nothing to with me.
The important thing was that I began to question my beliefs. To get back to the main topic, a few hours after I got tested, I wrote this in the notes app on my phone:
I have also acknowledged within myself, that the gossip that could come from possibly contracting the virus, is just as scary to me as the virus itself. I abosultely HATE being associated with negativity! Who doesn't!!? That probably says a lot about my priorities and values, but that is my truth.
Although living in this pandemic is scary, I have the privilege of being in a country where tests are readily available and free. I am still working full time, though under new circumstances. I am also privildged to have something productive (novel writing) to keep my mind busy and mostly free from anxiety and panic.
However, this close encounter, has been a dose of reality. Illness, disease, and death are human experiences. I am a human. Therefore I cannot spectate, pointing as if I'm watching a bad horror film. This is real life! And at any moment I, or someone immediately related to me could contract the virus.
"I am a human being. Nothing human can be alien to me."
Learning to navigate, evaluate, and/or ignore the opinions of other people is a big part of my human experience. As I was analyzing my thoughts in order to write this blog post, I heard God say that he was proud of me for being so self-aware and quick to understand and correct negative self talk.
Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 reads: "Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others." (ESV)
Let's break this down! If I am a queen and I hear my servant cursing me, why should I care? I am the queen, servants are beneath me! And, I know that I have also said silly, stupid things behind people's backs! These things are meaningless.
Shoutout to J. Mac (Jonathan McReynold's again! We're friends in my head now! *wink*) for breaking this down on his Instagram Story about three months ago. It blessed me, so I had to share it here!
This just in!!!!! My Covid-19 test results: NEGATIVE.
Here's some musical upliftment to ease your mind in these scary times!!
I'm off to read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz! Talk to you soon!