Ever since I came to Korea, I’ve been struggling with my sense of self-worth and belonging and one fundamental question of life: what is happiness? Living in a place where every single moment was a reminder that I didn’t really belong, whether it was people telling me that they couldn’t understand my Korean or the countless number of words that I couldn’t comprehend, pushed me further into the self-conscious grave I have been digging for myself ever since I took my first footsteps off the plane from Hong Kong. That’s why I was so drawn to the Herald when I was accepted into the organization two years ago, an oasis in the middle of a vast desert.
My enthusiasm didn’t equate to smooth sailing, however. The journey from then until now has been exhausting and full of things I didn’t want to do (bureaucracy, ugh). As people criticized my philosophy or actions as a leader, I found myself digging deeper. I can’t deny that the work has been frustrating at times and that the built-up vexations might have reared their ugly head at times. The looming cloud of graduation, the uncertainty of the future ahead of me, and the growing dissatisfaction towards the paths I’ve chosen throughout my time here did not help. Even now, less than a semester away from graduate school applications and hard decisions, I still do not know what I want to do or where I want to go with my life.
If anything, my last seven letters are indicative of one fact: I still do not understand and cannot define happiness. Every month, I struggled to connect the impending feeling of failure with some positive moral for a rather depressing story. And the advice and messages I put in those letters are as clueless and disoriented as the thoughts of anyone unfortunate enough to be in an existential crisis. As comedian Bo Burnham aptly put it, “Come and watch the skinny kid with a steadily declining mental health and laugh as he attempts to give you what he cannot give himself.” Still, I hope I succeeded in making at least one person’s day a little less stressful.
With all of that being said, if there is one thing I do not regret, it is my decision to take on this position. I have met so many wonderful people because of the Herald and it has been the greatest privilege to work for you guys. Thank you for the kind gestures at the end-of-semester party. It really meant a lot to me and I enjoyed every word of the letters. Most importantly, the people of the Herald have given me both happiness and a sense of belonging, and my brief time as leader has given my presence in KAIST meaning. In short, you guys have given me a lot — too much, in fact. And the Herald has given me as much as, if not more than, it took away from me.
To our readers, I apologize for the periodic melancholy I have brought upon you throughout my time as Editor-in-Chief. Writing has always been therapeutic to me and I always assumed that no one bothered to read this section of the paper, which was usually dedicated to babbling about some random philosophy that was loosely connected to the subjects of the month’s articles. I now leave the editorship of the Herald in good hands. Hopefully, future letters will be more optimistic than mine. We will always strive to provide you with entertaining and informative articles, so keep on reading! Thanks for tuning in.