What I Want vs. What I Need

Today’s Daily Prompt asks us to talk about a time where everything you’d hoped would happen actually did. So here’s mine…


Korean Cuisine

Me at the Korean Lotus Festival in Muan.

My journey to Korea did not start in 2010, although I can see how many people would think that it might have.

It started far earlier than that, when I was still a teenager sitting behind a desk at high school and wondering what I was going to do with my life. My sister had just finished her last year of university and was wandering the globe on a cruise ship, and as much as I liked the idea of jumping straight into studying, there was a part of me (a rather large part) that was dying to get out and see the world.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t one of those girls who finished high school having never left the town she grew up in. My family were big fans of travelling the world and I had been lucky enough to join my parents on quite a few of their travels, though looking back on it now I was incredibly ungrateful. But I loved the idea of Asia – it always seemed so exotic compared to the trips that I had taken with my family. My mother, though she loved travelling, liked to be in familiar environments, and she liked to be comfortable. This meant that trips with my family involved city centres around the globe rather than rural getaways, four star hotels rather than bungalows on the beach. There was LA and London and Paris, but the East was always a part of the world that was avoided. So, as a 17 year old dreamer, I wanted to see Thailand and China, Vietnam and Korea. I wanted to experience a life so different from what I knew that it would change my perspective on the world.

And then Matric came. My final year of high school dawned and with it came social pressure from all around to leap over the gap and jump straight into university. I caved reluctantly, but I refused to give up on the dream, clinging to it and developing it with every decision that I made. When I met Grant, one of the first things we spoke about was my dream of travelling, of teaching in Korea, of experiencing new cultures and learning new languages. Which is why, when I was finishing up my degree and then my post-graduate diploma four years later, we both knew that the time had come to say goodbye. There was no way that I would be happy in little Grahamstown where (for most of the year – the National Arts Festival excluded) the height of entertainment was a movement of the arms that could potentially pass as dancing on the over-crowded Friar Tuck’s dance floor.

It was a tearful goodbye. One of the worst that I have ever had to go through. We decided over a dinner a few weeks earlier that my leaving would be the end of our four year relationship, one that neither of us wanted to finish. And so, when I climbed into my car at 6am and drove out of the narrow driveway to start the 10 hour drive back to Cape Town where my family were waiting for me, I knew that it was the end of an era. I couldn’t stop the tears from falling down my cheeks, and I didn’t bother trying. Every song was a reminder of what I was leaving behind, and I couldn’t help the sinking feeling that I was making a mistake from taking over.

When, months later, I got my contract and my dream adventure started, it was tainted with emotional ties to South Africa, to the town that had become my home for 4 years and the town that had been my home for 17 years before then, to the people that had made my life worthwhile. I couldn’t help but wonder what, and who, it was that I was giving up to follow a silly dream that I had thought up years ago when I was nothing more than a naive little girl.

But it was too late to backpedal now. I flew halfway across the world and arrived in Korea. I won’t bore you with the details, because I could talk about my adventures there forever. But what I will say is this: Korea was a dream come true, but there was a part of me dreaming of coming back. There was a part of me that never left South Africa, and that held me back from enjoying Korea to the best of my ability. It made me homesick. I would come home at 3am from a night out with friends, and would jump straight onto Skype to tell the love of my life, who was just waking up, about my day. I lived a half life – going out and having fun, learning about a new culture and loving all that Korea had to teach me on one hand; crying myself to sleep, picking fights with people I loved, missing out on opportunities for those around me and generally being miserable on the other.

So, I got what I wanted (SUCCESS!) only to find that what I wanted was actually not what I needed. One year later, I found myself back in the little town that I couldn’t wait to leave with the love of my life by my side. Korea was one of the best decisions that I ever made, and it really has changed my life forever, but not in a way that I would ever have expected. It showed me what is really important in life… and who.


Here are some others who have had things go the way they’d planned:

Be careful with what you wish for | Phelio a Random Post a Day
Visit from the Goddess Success | The Magic Black Book
Success!!! | Nanuschka’s Blog
Prayers, Finally Reached the Skies! | the world behind the lens
Never Trade the Sabbath | Daily Prompt: Success! | likereadingontrains
No Good Thing Ever Dies | The Jittery Goat
Daily Prompt: Success! « Mama Bear Musings
Daily Prompt: Do We Ever Reach Total Success? | My Daily Prompt Blog
What Is Meant To Be Will Be | A Glimps of HOPE
Silver Linings- On the Highway to Hell | calliopes lyre
A Day at the Zoo, a Great Adventure | The Local Lens
Daily Prompt: Success! | JUkk


9 thoughts on “What I Want vs. What I Need

  1. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Success! | On My Front Porch

  2. Thank you so much for this post! I have never left SA, heck, I have never even flown! Your post rekindled a lot of feelings in me about the places I would still like to visit!

    • Definitely. If I hadn’t done it, I would have ended up blaming him for everything that went badly thereafter because he stopped me from going. Even if I didn’t blame him openly, it would always be at the back of my mind.

  3. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Success! | writinglikeastoner

  4. Pingback: Measure of Success | Daily Prompt: Success! | Kaleidoscopic World in Words

  5. Pingback: No Good Thing Ever Dies | The Jittery Goat

  6. Pingback: Daily Prompt: PowerShort-Success | Bastet and Sekhmet

  7. Pingback: Success! My Name in Lights | KnowledgeKnut

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