Physical Location Decides Desire and Perspective

What decides your desire and goal? Do you think it is one of your brain’s roles? I would like to share my experience how change in physical location shifted my desire and perspective.

Long story short, I immigrated from South Korea to the United States. I lived in New York and California before, and residing in Texas. Total 5 years of American life ended up changing my desire and perspective.

I was one of the international students from Asia with a big ‘American Dream’ and plan to prove myself to my family. That desire was a huge part of my mind which I never doubted about it. Several years later, I don’t feel it in my heart that much anymore. I thought it is because I lost my passion due to years of struggling. However, one day I found out a greater factor that affected what I want or what I think about the world.

As you already know, things are different when you move to other place and belong to there. To belong in a place is different to just passing by a place. Further physical distance from the original location usually means you will face bigger differences and challenges. For example, if you move to a neighbor 10 miles away from your home, this sole decision won’t change who you are that much. If you travel 1,000 miles away, you notice unfamiliar language, weather, food, rule, culture or shape of power plugs. These are external changes you realize through your sense organs. External changes are something you can notice right away when physical location is changed. However, internal changes are something you don’t understand in the early phase of exploration of new experiences. Internal changes begin slowly and silently.

Not long time ago, I realized that change of the physical location brought internal changes, and it affected my desire and perspective irrevocably. I decided to write this post when my family and friends from my hometown told me that I have changed a lot because our perspectives about the world in general were way different. My thought was that they have changed by the time as I left the country for a long time, but their life goals, wants, and priorities have remained the same.

I knew that life style is different in foreign countries, but I questioned about how it made me someone different. The desires ‘highly valued’ in Northeast Asian countries include going to a top-class college, being skinny (both female and male), living in highly developed city, and working for a major company. If what someone pursuing is something not from the list, he or she will be considered as a maladjusted or immature.

In my opinion, ‘highly valued’ desires in America are more diverse and individual centered. Many Americans plan to be an entrepreneur someday, pursue work-life balance, buying a big house with yard and a barbecue grill. Men prefer big muscle, facial hair, and strong body.

I agree with that my list is somewhat stereotypical, yet I hope you understand it as a widely recognized differences between two locations. The one thing I really want to mention in this post is that my change in physical location changed my perspectives and life goals in the way I was not expected.

From time to time, I make phone calls to my family and friends in S. Korea. There desires and goals have not been changed that much compared to 10 years ago, yet mine has shifted into different direction. Also, I feel this gap gets deeper and deeper as time passes.

My internal changes affected by North America are following;

  1. I don’t try to be skinny anymore or feel guilty about it. I also stopped judging others by their look or weight. My goal shifted from being skinnier to being more masculine.
  2. I am not interested in living in a bigger and expensive city. I went to college in New York because I thought I wanted to live in New York City, which I believed it is better because it is more populated and expensive.
  3. Now I consider ‘work-life balance’ when I look into job to spend more time with my family, friends, and hobby than having a better chance to climb up the hierarchy as impressing my boss.
  4. I don’t mind to not fit in normal or majority. ‘Just do it in the middle is the best for the society’ is not a desire I sense anymore.

I met some Americans lived in East Asia for a while such as Japan or S. Korea. It seemed they also had internal changes about their perspectives. I talked with a female in her early 20s’ who was an exchange student in Seoul, the capital of S. Korea. She told me she wants to lose her weight because she felt so fat compared to Asian girls. She didn’t gain extra weight or lose. Just her perspective shifted as she belonged in a new place where the society’s conventional desire on skinny body shape is more strong compared to where she is from.

What happens when the original desire is fulfilled after internal change affected your desire?

People from my home country say I did good job for achieving ‘To have a career in the US’, as one of highly valued goals in Korean community. What I realized is that is just another form of lifestyle. There was no absolute value of better or worse as some people expect. There will be always pros and cons no matter where you are.

One advice I would like to give to people who do not have a specific goal or destination is that to put yourself in different locations and objectify yourself. Experience discomfort and discover new values to discuss with yourself. You would learn who you really are and what you sincerely desire than listening conventional wishes, and end up realizing it was not your true desire you pursued.



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Dennis Du On

Dennis Du On

Interest in expanding experiences, investment, and traveling