Coming home

Whether it’s been a good day or a bad day, the pleasure I get from arriving home remains the same.

I love that moment when I close the door behind me and slide the lock across, shutting the whole world out. Maybe today it’s a horrible, scary, stressful world… maybe yesterday it was a wonderful, beautiful, exciting world… no difference. Shutting it out at the end of the day is something my mind, body, and soul crave. The lock clicks into place, and there is silence, usually broken only by a contented sigh from me. I turn, kick off my shoes, get changed into something more comfortable, sit down, and just bask in the knowledge that I am alone, in my home, where no one will disturb me. I can recharge my batteries, I can unwind, and I can do whatever I want to do, in peace and quiet, until I am ready to go out and engage with the world again.

Coming home. It just makes me happy.

Relief

I am a worrier.

I get horribly, horribly nervous before doing something where I feel that there’s a lot of pressure on me to do well. It used to be school tests, giving speeches in front of the class, and performing in plays – I would be unable to sleep the night before, and eating breakfast was out of the question. My stomach would get twisted into tighter and tighter knots of anxiety and fear, shutting down all other functions to the extent where I couldn’t speak to anyone or even think about anything other than the thing that was looming ahead of me.

Nowadays, it’s also school events that bring back these familiar feelings, but this time I’m the teacher! I don’t think I was born to be a performer. Open Classes, pretend gameshows and interviews with the children in front of their parents, recitals, presentations… I love being a teacher, but I hate demonstrating it to the parents of my students! Today, I couldn’t even speak to my colleagues or the children before the event. I had to leave the buzzing rooms and corridors, seek out a quiet place, and just sit there on my own, in silence, letting the worry worms eat me alive from the inside out.

And the thing is, I’m actually quite good at the performance part, after all that! Just as I was always able to forget about the nerves as soon as I turned over the exam paper, and just as I was able to hide my shaking hands under the desk as I gave convincing speeches in school debates, I am able to breeze into a classroom packed with parents, smile cheerily at them, and then pretend they’re not there and just have a fun, easy class with my kids. I always tell myself not to forget this for the next time – the worry has never, ever been justified before, and I put myself through torture for absolutely no reason, so why should I do it all again the next time? But I always do.

Maybe it’s just that I love that feeling of relief so much. When the thing I’ve been dreading so much it’s made me almost physically sick is finally over, and I feel as if I can stand up tall again without several tons of crushing panic pressing down on my aching shoulders. When I suddenly realise I’m starving, and that I can eat again. When I know that it’s all over and I never have to go over all the over-rehearsed material again. Sheer relief.

It just makes me happy.

Mail

I’ve always loved getting mail.

When I was a teenager, I wrote constantly to my penpals, and received letters almost every day. For me – someone who loves to read and write – there was no greater joy than the anticipation that came from holding a promisingly thick, handwritten envelope in my hands. I savoured the moment of opening it and pulling out the folded sheets of paper, always settling myself down in a quiet space to read what my friend had to say. Then I’d rush home after school to happily spend the whole evening in my room writing back.

These days, mail doesn’t come so often. I get a little bit of the same pleasure when I see a friend’s name in my email inbox, but it will never be equal to the satisfaction of holding a letter in my hands. I treasure moments like today’s, when a handwritten envelope arrives.

It just makes me happy.

Private jokes

They’re horrible when you’re not a part of them, and you can only smile awkwardly while others laugh uproariously at something that didn’t sound at all funny to you.

But when you’ve spent enough time working or socialising in the company of someone (or a group of people), and those in-jokes develop naturally without you even realising, it can be a really nice feeling. Knowing that you can say something that would make no sense to anyone else, yet which is guaranteed to make present company laugh, makes you feel connected and understood. You’re part of something.

It just makes me happy.

Words

I’ve been given expensive jewellery, money, things that cost so much that I’m scared to touch them. But no gift makes me happier than someone taking the time to either make something for me, or write me a note. That’s the gift I will cherish, and I will read those words over and over again until I know them by heart and can see the handwriting in my mind’s eye.

Yesterday, one of my favourite students (aged 6) brought me a little, brightly coloured sunflower made out of soft clay, and a note written in her best English. They are sitting on my desk now, and I don’t think I can describe how happy they make me every time I glance at them.

Simple, heartfelt words on an otherwise worthless scrap of paper. It just makes me happy.

Sports fever

I used to hate sports. I still don’t exactly see myself playing them, but my feelings about watching games have changed.

I love the atmosphere in a packed stadium, the crowd singing, chanting, and moving in unison as they support their team. The crazed frenzy that comes with a goal, or a home run – jumping, screaming, yelling, cheering, hugging.

I even love watching games in bars with my friends, as long as we’re there in support of a particular team. It’s not so much fun when our teams lose, of course, but there’s still that spirit of solidarity. And when we win, the atmosphere is almost as good as if we were actually there! I had so much fun watching France beat England in the rugby, and the fact that we were all entering into the spirit of it – standing for the French anthem, rising involuntarily to our feet at exciting moments, cheering and yelling support at the screen and each other – made it one of those happy times I’m keeping track of on this blog (and trying to complete now before the fast-approaching deadline!).

United support of a sports team. Who would’ve thought? It just makes me happy.

Singing with my friends

Korean noraebangs could’ve been designed with me in mind, but I’m taking their existence as proof that there are many, many more people like me in the world than I ever imagined.

A room on every street corner for you to pile into with your friends after dinner and drinks, containing sofas, disco lights, a karaoke machine, tambourines, and thousands of songs to choose from…? Surely this is happiness itself?!

And as I sing into the microphone, dancing happily with a big smile on my face, and look at my friends either singing along or dancing around with tambourines, I feel joyful in a way that I don’t even really understand. There’s no reason why this odd behaviour should be capable of making me feel so alive and so content. At least, no reason I can think of.

It just makes me happy.