“In life, when you start amassing choices, you’ve come into your own”
The full fuzzy unbeatable feeling of becoming a bit more me than yesterday
Through essays like "On Attitude" and "To Be Free," Kyoungsun Lim has candidly shared her story about work and love as an individual and a woman, and about adopting an attitude of trust. "Living as Myself" adds the keyword 'choice' to the values that Lim has emphasized over time. From everyday choices such as deciding on a meal, and shaping your personal preferences to making significant decisions that determine the direction of your life, it is not an overstatement to say that our lives are shaped by our choices. Lim contends that choice is not a goal in itself but a means to an end. The reason we agonize and make careful choices is for our own satisfaction and fulfillment. Sometimes, it means honestly choosing what draws our hearts, even when it doesn't seem profitable. Lim says that in such actions, the values of life you truly cherish become apparent. Likewise, because such choices involve a clear recognition of your wants, it brings you closer to “living as yourself.”
“Even if I have to take a bit of a loss, even if it's hard, even if I have to turn a blind eye to what others think, there is a greater value hidden in what I've chosen with all my heart, which cannot simply be explained away by practical calculations. There will be some hidden aspect there, that no matter what anyone says, one would consider as their own happiness. In my case, that aspect was 'freedom' and 'beauty.'” (Page 170)
Lim opens up for the first time about the subject of aging, confessing that she has previously shied away from writing about this theme. Her reluctance stems from the tendency of various media to reduce the process of aging to a mere commodity, coupled with her deep-rooted belief that a person of worth remains as they are, regardless of age. She scrutinizes and classifies attitudes towards aging with surgical precision, unveiling those individuals who age gracefully, unperturbed by the number of years they carry. She coins the term 'Ageless' for these unique souls, describing them as centered individuals, without any self-pity, radiating simplicity and honesty. The likes of writer Haruki Murakami and actress Julianne Moore exemplify this breed, who, through unwavering dedication to their craft, have managed to weave successful careers. Although it is near impossible to entirely forget one's age, the extent to which this factor influences or governs one's life can be moderated. Furthermore, acknowledging one's limits and potential births a newfound freedom within those confines. If a reader, besieged by societal pressures, dreads the thought of aging, Lim's evocative prose may offer a soothing balm, subtly dissipating those fears. Her words inspire the anticipation of a sense of liberation and fulfillment, a richness of self that outstrips the significance of age as time unfurls.
“To age ‘agelessly,’ one must be persistent in their quest to be themselves. This means that the intensity of one's identity and the essence of one's life should be potent enough to dilute the preconceptions attributed to aging. To put it differently, we should be able to speak of an individual not based on conventional stereotypes of age but by referring to their distinct personality or charm.” (Pages 23-24)
In life, rather than yearning for complete success,
embrace the existence of every incomplete moment.
In her eighteenth year as a full-time author, enjoying the steadfast support of her readers, Lim delineates with marked precision her experiences on sustaining a writer's life. Viewing with skepticism the myriad writing courses that advertise how anyone could produce a book in a snap, she emphasizes the need for an abundant reservoir of unique stories embedded within one's soul to continuously live through writing, instead of focusing on churning out just a single book. Rather than casually discussing the act of writing, she conveys the tangible agonies and ecstasies of the process, urging those desiring to be authors to confront their ambitions with serious contemplation. This narrative is well worth listening to for readers who, despite the plethora of various media content in this era, still wish to connect with the world through written words.
“The bedrock for a sustainable life as an author, the fuel that keeps the words coming, is a voracious compulsion. It is only when we truly have something we want to say to others that we can continue to weave our narrative.” (Page 98)
The values that Lim has spoken of in the past—confronting one's emotions directly and living freely as an individual—are just as effective in this book. Even as we age, to live a life where we love what we do and heed the voice of our hearts; to maintain the core of our 'self' even amidst turmoil and allow our unique personalities to intensify—this is the life she portrays. Having inspired many through her previous works, in this book too, Lim guides her readers into a tranquil world of contemplation. Life has no definitive answers; there is no such thing as a 'completed' life. However, its very imperfection could render it beautiful. "Living as Yourself" is a book that invites readers to follow Lim’s unfolding thoughts as an author and an individual, and to envision the joy and beauty of living true to oneself.
“Accepting the failures and suffering that we experience as imperfect beings, rather than rushing to conclusions, it would be ideal to chew over the thoughts softly and quietly digest them within oneself. Acceptance fosters the strength to think about the problem from various angles. Real change and growth will slowly follow.” (Page 194)
Reference: Maumsanchaek. "Living as Yourself", http://maumsan.com/maum/index.php?document_srl=947978&mid=books_person. accessed 1 August 2023.