Who is CityGirlSearching?
I recently wrote this blog post and asked readers what it is they want to see more of here on the blog. One of the comments was from Nihaad (who blogs over here) and she said she'd like to know a little more about me and the journey I took to get where I am right now. I don't usually share very personal posts on my blog, as I often think that no one really wants to hear the day to day ramblings of yet another blogger, but her comment made me think. Since it was still churning over in my mind a week later I have decided to start doing a few more personal posts, thrown in amongst the beauty reviews and travel guides.
I'd love to hear from you as to whether this is something you want to read more of, and as always look forward to your comments below.
The girl behind the brand
I am a 27 year old South African living and teaching English in South Korea with my husband and rescue pup, Shadow the Jindo. In 2009, just before graduating from Rhodes University with a BA in English Literature & Industrial Psychology, I met this farmboy. He was everything I was not, and considering I had a long term boyfriend at the time, I was simply not interested. Fast forward a few months, while making T-shirts together for a non-profit charity group we were both a part of, and I felt myself falling head over heels for this barefoot free spirit. You can read the full story here.
After dating for 5 months we left South Africa in search of a little adventure in South Korea.
We were both unemployed, and wanted to see more of the world and so when TeachKorea did a presentation at our University we both dove straight in, competed our application forms and started the long process of moving to Korea. In February 2010 we boarded a plane and began our first year of teaching in Daejeon, one of the biggest cities in South Korea. We did lots of traveling (Cambodia, Jeju Island and The Phillipines) and spent a very interesting year learning a lot about ourselves and of course each other as we navigated the sometimes difficult waters of life in a foreign country. Towards the end of our one year contract, Farmboy was feeling under an immense amount of pressure to have concrete answers for friends and family with their constant bombardment of "What next?" "When are you going to get a real job?" and "What are you going to do when you get back to South Africa?". We knew everyone meant well with their questions but it didn't help our worries about the future.
The first 6 months back in South Africa were really hard. Farmboy had by then been out of University (having graduated with his BSC Honors in Biology & Environmental Science) for 3 years, meaning he was 3 years behind his classmates in the job sphere. We were living with my mom in Joburg (alternating between visits to his family farm in KZN). I was loving being back home, being brought tea in bed by my mom and being able to catch up with her after being gone for such a long time. But it wasn't real. We were living in a bubble, a very happy bubble for me and a very frustrating bubble for Farmboy. We had some money saved from Korea, but not much as we had really wanted to travel and experience as much as possible while in Korea and so there were financial pressures too. To give you an idea, in 2010 a first time English teacher in Korea with no experience (with a TEFL certificate) was paid R18 000 a month and was given a rent free apartment. We both had no loans to pay off and the cost of living was relatively inexpensive. But, holidays cost money, eating out costs money (when you miss home and the comfort of home cooked food and you realise you have no problem spending R200 a person for a curry that tastes a little bit like home). As we lived on the outskirts of a big city it took us an hour to get into the main areas where the shops and restaurants were and so we were also spending a lot of money on taxis. And then let's not forget the amazing fashion, stationery and makeup products Korea is so well known for. After a year, Farmboy had R40 000 saved and I had R75 000. I had more saved than him because he always paid whenever we went out for dinner (such a gentleman). This may sound like a lot of money, and it was when it was all clumped together. But when rent costs R4 000, food costs R4 000 and petrol costs another R2 000 that money isn't going to go very far. We also needed to buy Farmboy a car. We chalked up our time in Korea to fun and adventure, and not as a saving year abroad.
Then there was the pressure we were feeling regarding marriage. We had both gone full circle with our feelings towards marriage (at first I had no desire to get married and he wanted us to take our relationship seriously and commit to one another, this changed when we got back and I wanted to start thinking about marriage and he was wanting to wait until we were both settled with steady jobs). During this time I had been for numerous interviews with companies wanting to take complete advantage of me and my skills in blogging and social media. After a few freelance social media positions and a short, horrible 6 week stint as a wedding & conference coordinator, I decided to do my Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching in Pietermaritzburg. Farmboy had at this time finally secured a great job in Pietermaritzburg and had moved there to work on the oil pipe line between Durban and Pietermaritzburg. He moved in with his grandparents in August 2011, and I followed in November that year, moving into a tiny one bedroom flat.
Life went on, I was studying and Farmboys job allowed him a lot of flexibility. It was mostly field work and when he had done what he needed to do he could go home so it meant we were able to spend a lot of time together which was great.
We got engaged in May 2012 and were married on his family dairy farm in September that year. You can see more photographs from our wedding here. After the wedding and an incredible honeymoon in Greece (click here) we returned to 'normal' life in Pietermaritzburg. We were happy about the life we had begun together, but I was feeling antsy.
So many of my friends at the time were wanting to start a family and I just wanted to hop on a plane and experience strange things again. Korea began to creep up into our conversations more and more. But by this time Farmboy had gotten a great job in Hillcrest at a really awesome Environmental agency and had been traveling all over Africa (he was doing Environmental Impact Assessments on mining sites) and as awesome as it was for him, we were apart for weeks at a time. I had also found a great temporary teaching post that I was hoping would become permanent. But a few weeks after starting my job, I was told the school could no longer offer me a permanent post and it hit me exactly where it was that I wanted to go next. Farmboy and I then made the difficult decision to pack up our lives again, and start the process to return to Korea.
As we already had a years experience in Korea it wasn't long before a couple post was offered to us. We thought we would have had more time but by April 2013 we had to make a definite decision and decided to accept the contracts for Korea. Our jobs started in June and so Farmboy gave his notice, we spent our last month visiting family and friends in KZN and Joburg and finally boarded a plane bound for Korea (again) on the 23rd June.
We have loved our second time here in Korea because it has been so different from before. We are now in a tiny town out in the countryside, we are earning a bit more and our family got a little bigger last year when we rescued Shadow from the side of the road.
Our goal this second time around has been to spend 3 years trying to reach our saving goal. We have just started our third year and with that money we hope to either buy a house somewhere, or to put it away for our children's education. There are lots of options for us for when we return home next year, but right now instead of worrying about them, we are trying to enjoy our last year of complete freedom.
Living in Korea isn't always as easy and glamorous as it looks in my photographs. It's hard being on this side of the world when family members are sick and when grandparents pass away. It's hard being here when it seems like our classmates are making such huge successes of themselves out in the corporate or 'real world'. It's also hard being away from everything you have ever known as normal (food, ways of doing things, ways of solving problems) and it's hard being in a country where very few people can understand what you are saying.
It's hard being a young adult in this day and age, with jobs being so hard to come by and so many people trying to start their own businesses. Not all of us will be successful entrepreneurs and not all of us are able to (or want to) be like the people who live those idyllic lives on Instagram. I often put so much pressure on myself to have a super successful blog, to have a million followers on all my social media platforms, to be that person who becomes a great success over night. But this is just not real. I am okay with being a teacher when we go back, being a farmers wife or just having a regular job (okay this is still something I am making peace with but I know that in my heart of hearts it doesn't matter what job I do, and someone has to do the 'normal' jobs...if no one worked in banks, hospitals, schools, kitchens and restaurants the world just wouldn't work).
Social media only shows us the best of the best, the highlights of peoples lives and those highlights are mostly (if not all) staged and styled. We have to asses our own priorities and be honest with ourselves about what makes us happy. We have to learn to be completely accepting of ourselves and who we are . I want to be someone whose day doesn't depend on how many likes and followers I have. I want to stop letting social media dictate my mood. I do believe it is possible to lead a balanced life with Facebook & Instagram as a part of it. I don't believe we have to get rid of it all to be truly happy, but I do believe there has to be a balance. I still have a way to go with getting that balance right, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
Right now I am in a bit of a funny head space with this blog (wanting to take it full time but not really having any particular focus for it). I know people read my blog and think that I have got everything figured out but really, I'm just like most of you; a young woman trying to carve a space out in this world.
Writing this blog makes me happy.
Taking pretty photographs makes me happy.
And having people I don't know comment and email me to tell to say they found something helpful or felt inspired by something makes me feel like all the effort and time I put into this space is absolutely worth it.
That's why I blog.
Where are you right now in your life? Do you have blog, what are some of the reasons you blog and some of the reasons you keep on blogging? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. Sometimes we just need to hear that someone is going through something similar to realise that what we are feeling is completely normal.
Farmboy and I have traveled to so many incredible places because Korea has given us the opportunity to save as well as travel. We have met so many like minded people and are grateful for what we have here. We may go through feelings of frustration and anxiety about the future (just live every other person!) but we have each other (and Shadow) and we have our faith in God that everything will work out. His plan may be different from ours, but whatever it is, it will better than anything we can imagine for ourselves.