It seems that I committed a blunder.
Luckily, our textbook has a whole chapter on apologies.
I’ve spent over a year in Korea hearing that I look tired, don’t try on that dress because it’s too small for you, why is your butt so big, do all Americans have hairy arms, you have a nose like Pinocchio, your face got smaller, you look tired.
None of these were ever made with ill intent and as a large foreign woman in Korea, I have to accept these comments for what they are.
I want to tell you that Korean culture rubbed off on me, or that I’m just carrying that straightforward American confidence, but the truth is I’m just blunt. I have difficulty curbing it, of setting boundaries without hurting feelings.
When I remarked to my teacher in our first live class that she was shorter than I thought, it was my lack of filter.
I had become just like my own students, unthinking in our vocal observations.
S also was very sensitive about her height, even though I very clearly towered over her; she came up to my chin in heels. To me, it was obvious– look, you’re short. Literally, I’m almost a foot taller than you.
But just because Korean women are accustomed to making commentary about appearance doesn’t mean they enjoy receiving it. I’m starting to think like all other women in the world, they actually don’t want to hear the blunt observations that are pervasive in Asian culture.
I felt bad that I had potentially hurt my teacher’s feelings and felt like the thoughtless, selfish being that I am in my worst moments.
After all, people’s spoken observations about my paleness, dark circles, big nose may be true but that doesn’t make them more pleasant to hear.
So with my previous obtained knowledge, I carefully crafted an apology text message.
I waited a bit nervously but in the end the teacher told me there was no need as that her feelings weren’t hurt.
All was forgiven and my soul was at ease.
I only hope I can carry this lesson forward in the tangled ball of yarn that is my 2020 brain.