Prepare for Disappointment

Despite this post’s title, there will be a happy ending, I promise.

That is not a stock photo, it’s my actual hand.

If you decided to follow this new blog through its first three posts, you may know another blog came before. That blog began its life over seven years ago as I prepared for my first (at that time, only) adventure to South Korea.

At that time, there wasn’t an ongoing theme. There weren’t self-indulgent posts about coming or going, will he or won’t he go back. It was just someone writing about his pending adventure in a new country. The theme would begin when, less than two months later, the weight of being in a very foreign land weighed too much on me, and I went home.

And I had such high hopes.

A couple years passed. I thought about that abbreviated trip, marked time with the occasional blog post about it. But, I felt like I had (mostly) moved on. I had gone back to my old newspaper job I had left for it (but, not the girlfriend I had left. Unlike the weekly newspaper paying $20,000 a year, that ship had sailed). Later, I took another newspaper job. I met someone else and eventually we moved in together.

It wasn’t until that relationship ended, and then that second newspaper job ended via the first of what would become a repetitive set of layoffs and other painful cuts, that I began thinking seriously again about South Korea.

A little over a year after being laid off from that job, odd job here and there, I was back in South Korea. Unlike Jinju, a relatively small Korean city, I was in Busan, the second largest metropolis in all the land. This had a subway system and many foreigners. This was bustling and alive.

About two months later, I was home again. This time, I left mostly because of a pending gallbladder surgery, one I had gone so far as to be admitted into a hospital in Busan for, where they were going to slice me open old-school style and keep me in the hospital for three weeks.

At the last minute (almost literally, I was sitting on the hospital bed and had blood drawn), I changed my mind. There were still plenty of nights of anxiety before that but I still believe had the gallbladder issue not been there, I would have moved through that rough first few months that are rough on everyone (at least, so I have heard). But, the gallbladder issue was there, and I didn’t stay.

And I had such high hopes.

So, here we are again—again. Feb. 2013, three years after my last attempt.

And, my hopes … are cautious.

There is something that happens when you get older. It’s not even an age thing, it’s an experiential thing. If you get burned over and over and over again, you became more and more cautious. Too often, unfortunately, it leads to one not bothering to try something again because they don’t want to feel that hurt they felt already. Why try to fall in love after getting your heart ripped out one too many times? Why try to climb a mountain if every time you tried you felt like you were going to have a heart attack and/or piss yourself? Why the hell would you go back to South Korea after coming home early two freakin’ times?

Because, even though getting burned makes one cautious, it can also make the reward that much sweeter, if you’re up to the task of climbing the mountain you built. It’s tougher, but it’s very possible.

See, I told you there was a positive ending coming.

On this third turn, I am preparing for disappointment—I am not expecting it. There is a difference. Expecting disappointment is what someone does when they’ve been burned so many times they’re irreparably bitter. They’re Strong Sad, they’re Eeyore. They’re miserable, but, they may say, at least they have a shield against the shit life has—and will continue to—throw at them.

I’m preparing for disappointment, if only because I’m 33, not 26. I’m preparing to feel lonely, to feel isolated or frustrated or way out of my element. But, you can only prepare so much. Like steeling yourself for the death of a loved one, you don’t really know how you’ll react until it happens.

So, I am preparing myself—not just the potential for disappointment, but also something better, not bitter. Either way, I won’t know what it’s like until the time comes. It’s something that comes with age, and experience.

And, preparation can never replace experience. I remain excited.


  1. “If you get burned over and over and over again, you became more and more cautious. Too often, unfortunately, it leads to one not bothering to try something again because they don’t want to feel that hurt they felt already. ” So true.

    Great post!

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