Gillian learning kathak in a studio with an older woman

Who Am I in This City?: Leaving Seoul for Lahore, Part 2

“Do you think you actually changed in Korea? Or just sharpened?”

During the course of a lovely 2-day wellbeing retreat with Recipes for Wellbeing in Lahore, we made something called a wheel of wellbeing. There were a number of factors to consider, such as mental/emotional needs, social and environmental, physical health, finances, personal growth, and etc. We were asked to rate our current wellbeing in each of the 8 slices of the wheel.

Across the board, my scores were quite high. I feel like generally I’m in a good place, I’m happy with where I am and what I’m doing. But when it came time to sit down with a peer for a coaching session and I had to pick a slice to talk about, I chose one that I had given a perfect score — “personal growth.”

The reasons were the same as I wrote in the first part of this series. While I think I’m learning, I’m happy about it, I do what I love all the time, and all the other criteria they listed for personal growth, I was still lost in questions of who I am, who I should or can or might be, and if I even needed to care.

My coach asked a series of patient, thoughtful, and thought-provoking questions, ending with this last one.

Did I actually change in Korea? I became more serious, certainly. But did I fundamentally change?

Or was I just sharpened?

Living in Lahore

One cannot be passive in Lahore. Living here is a full time job with overtime. It demands presence and energy in a way Korea never did, it requires me to be here and on.

In Korea, I had time for dozens — literally — side projects. When I wasn’t working I was working on the computer. I started a podcast, a youtube channel, I wrote articles, I ran a virtual summit, I joined a board. And still I felt restless sometimes.

Here, I can barely deal with one or two side projects, and I have to make a hard, concentrated effort to make time for them. Now that I think about it, I haven’t been restless at all since coming here. Of course, I’m still on overload of new information and new learnings, and I probably felt this way the first few months in Korea, too.

The true test would no doubt come if I was staying past six months, when staying becomes living and the privileges of being new wear off.

But I think I find at least some peace in these few months of beginning. One of my questions coming here was if I would stay as serious, if I would need to be so strict or strong about who I am and what I do.

So far, in the six weeks I’ve been here, it seems that I’ve at least temporarily answered the question — I am not as serious. And while I don’t need to fight to be me, the edges that sharpened in Korea haven’t blunted.

The shift is huge, and I’m still getting used to it. I’m slowly pulling out of side projects for my own sanity. If Lahore asks me to be present, then I will be.

I don’t know if I could say who I am in this city. But whoever it is, I like her better.

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