Living at home, the truth.

It’s funny a friend asked me about a year ago, why I keep wanting to run off to other countries and I think I’ve finally found the answer.

I didn’t know the answer at that time, but I know now the truth. I want to live abroad because living at home reduces me to a mere child. I don’t have the same freedoms, privacy, life I want. Not to mention living at home is like carrying a bit of shame – I’m 27 and still living at home. Will I be 30 and still at home? When will I grow up and become fully independent? You know what I loved best about living in Japan? It was having that space to myself, the freedom to do whatever I want. I love my parents very much and totally respect them, but I don’t like them sometimes. The little things build up into big things.

My mum can’t book her flight tickets without me there to confirm it. She can’t leave me alone in my own house that I grew up in without my father being home from his holiday. They both can’t let me stay here alone by myself. I’m 27 and I don’t know how I survived alone in Japan in a completely foreign country. Oh wait, I was 24 and I was completely fine. I didn’t die. I didn’t wilt. For 2 years I lived by myself just fine…..why can’t the same be said for living in a house for only 2 weeks without anyone?

Then the next thing is my mannerisms. Apparently I am picking up bad habits or mannerisms from other people of different races/nationalities and therefore I will attract a man who is not right for me. Oh wait so let me add to the list of men I can’t date according to my family. As if I am getting any interest at all, I need to become even more specific.

This leads me onto the universal question of….when are you getting a boyfriend? When are you getting married? Hmmm, not sure that’s in the cards for me. How about never? I don’t ****$&! know! I might not get married, or I might, but do you see me worrying about it? No, I am not worried because I don’t care. Maybe I don’t want children. Maybe my life is not defined by having kids, getting married and buying a house. Maybe I have other interests such as learning a new language, travelling, finding myself, doing what I enjoy.

When will the lectures end? Well they don’t when you live at home….

What time are you coming home? Who are you going with? Shall I make you dinner? As if I can’t cook. I would really like to, but I don’t get to. Wake me up when you get home after a night out. Why would I want to do that and disturb your sleep? So I know you’re home safe and sleep better. Ring the phone and we can collect you from the station at 10/11pm. But I live 3 minutes walk from the station, why do I need to do that? Just do it, it’s not safe. Why don’t men get this? Why do my brothers never get the same attention? Why do they get away with so much?

I cannot take this for much longer. So yes it’s great you save money and you can do less and I know I am so Goddamn lucky but at what cost? Is it worth it? Hmmm, no I think as you get older, it’s not worth it.

Advertisements

Is it worth it?

Sometimes I sit and wonder, what is the point in some things? What is the point in having some friends? What is the point of this job? I am sitting here getting restless again wondering if it’s time to pack up and leave again. Today I just found out that due to a large restructure within our organisation, my new job will now be changing. So the question remains, do I want to stay? I’m not sure I like the sound of my new job, I am not sure I like being an assistant again. But how do you progress if you are forever changing and running? You can’t progress if you don’t stay in one place and that is one thing I have been refusing to do.

I look at my life in London and I find fault with it. I am not happy. When will I ever be happy? The Lord only knows. Never probably. Maybe I will always be running. Running from what I wonder. Well being back at home, living with the parents is one of the most depressing things that get me down. My parents treat me like a child. I am 27 years old almost 28 and they still insist on walking to the train station to meet me. My house is a 5 minute walk from the station, not far at all. They always ask what time will you be home? Who are you going with? They always worry. It is the most frustrating thing. Stop worrying I want to scream, but it won’t be any use, they can’t stop. I know it is very loving and sweet and I am lucky, but I feel trapped. I feel like my wings have been clipped and I crave my independence, freedom and privacy. They both can’t even go on holiday without leaving me alone despite the fact that I have lived by myself for 2 years in a foreign country. That was the last straw. So tonight I checked my passport, because I may have to make an escape soon before I go officially insane. Everyone has an opinion.

My mum blames herself and thinks something is wrong at home that my brother and I wish to live abroad. Perhaps we aren’t happy? Why can’t they just see that we just want to live independently and travel. Why can’t we just leave? Why is it so difficult? Why must everything be explained as if to a child? This all makes me NOT want to have children. I don’t want my kids to hang on to me forever. I don’t want to get so attached that I can’t let go. I don’t want children. I think I want my freedom more than I want that life.

So do I stay in this job which has been made from a contract role to permanent which I don’t really like? Do I stay in this country where I feel forgotten by friends? Do I stay in this country where I fail at dating and meeting men? What do I stay for? There is nothing to stay for, except the great TV. But perhaps it’s time for a new adventure. I wonder when I will stop running as my friend puts it. As my brother says, I’m getting old now, I need to start making important decisions instead of playing about. Well, let me tell you something. I am not old yet. I am not finished yet. And I will not just settle into this shit life that I am currently leading. I did it once before, so courage don’t desert me now, because I think it’s time to try again.

Too much trash in the sea

So for the past few months I have approached dating with a level of seriousness which has slowly faded to weariness. After 5 months of trying to date, I have lost hope of finding someone online.

I am telling you online dating is the pits. I end up going on dates only for them to end at date one. I don’t mind because most of the time, we don’t have chemistry or that level of interest, but I feel like I am not filtering these guys properly. They all want to meet before much conversation has taken place and off course I am reluctant to because we haven’t texted much. So I have decided to set up a few rules. First date rules: coffee/drinks only max 2 hours. Second date: Meal or activity. But then isn’t it difficult when you start limiting yourself?

I feel like all some men want is just sex and others disguise it saying they want more, but then it turns out all they want is sex. I am battling with why it is so hard to find someone when I live in a city filled with over 8 million people. Surely you’d think I’d have a high possibility of meeting someone in this city? Nope, seems not.

If Japan doesn’t cut it, and the UK doesn’t cut it? I’m not quite sure where I am going to be picking up my men from.

Any successful dating apps my friends have used, I have tried and failed to find the same success. You name it – Tinder, Bumble, Dilmill – I am at the point of despairing. Maybe I need to give up? It’s only my love life that I never have any luck with…

Reflection of life

It has been just over a year since I have been back from the lifetime adventure that is Japan. I didn’t expect to spend 2 years of my life living in a rural countryside, but it was the best two years of my life even if it was the most difficult. No-one warns you how hard it is living alone abroad, but my friends, the community and my students made my life out there. I stayed for my students, my kids. I love them so much. But now I am back and I adjusted pretty well back into life in London. But my time in Japan felt like a distant memory, like a dream that never really existed. I feel so disconnected from it, but it was real. I hold on to that. I miss that life; I miss my students the most, I miss the scenery, I miss the beauty of it, I miss the language. I miss it.

I am back in London with a contract in a job I don’t truly care for. I have been dating, but gave up with the fruitlessness of it. I have been enjoying my time in London despite it all, but I am aware, I need a new adventure. Because once you’ve experienced Japan, there is no going back, you have to move forward and experience more, richer, fuller things. So I am waiting. I am 27 and I am getting older. I do not fit in this world anymore that is London. It is easy to get lost in, but I don’t fit in the corporate lifestyle. I don’t think I fit anywhere. I’ve never had a boyfriend and never risked the courage or dared to try. In that sense, I am naive. I feel like I’ve experienced it all except this other world that I refuse to let my heart open to because  fear the worst. I don’t want to get hurt. I don’t want to be betrayed. I don’t want to trust someone who will eventually let me down. I don’t want to be vulnerable. I don’t want to lose my independence. I don’t want to lose me. I don’t want to change. But most of all, I just don’t want someone to crush me, because I know I could give them that power and they could do it. They could crush me into nothing and then I would have to rebuild myself all over again.

It was hard to survive once, but I am sure I could survive it again if it came to it again. So I guess that’s why I don’t mind or I am trying really hard to open myself up to possibilities; to life.

Before I move on, I think it’s time to go back to Japan to say goodbye; to move on and to turn the next page of the chapter. I desperately want to see my students again. I love them so much, it pains me. I think the only way to let go off them is to say goodbye and see the change. So here’s my pact – I am coming back to close this chapter of my life and start the next one. Here’s to my next journey.

Dare to live, lose the fear

Last year, before I went to New Zealand, I was feeling apprehensive and worried. I had returned home with no job and to take another 2 month vacation meant I would be fully out of a job for 6 months. But that wasn’t what I was worried about. I was worried about travelling with a friend I met in Japan. We weren’t that close in Japan, but we got on, despite the lack of many common interests. Travelling for me is a thrilling adventure and I am usually always excited for it. But since Japan, I feel like I have become a strange creature of habit. I don’t feel fully comfortable and I think that is my problem. It is what fuels my fear and my hesitance. What made it harder going on this road trip was not being sure I could maintain conversation for 3 weeks without either of us getting bored.  I’ve always felt like we didn’t have a real friendship. He’s very private and even though we hang out in groups, I haven’t always been completely comfortable with him. I’m not sure why. So I did’t know how this trip was going to be as it would simply be the two of us.

Well having now finished that trip and my 2 month holiday, I have realised how petty my worries were. I’ve said it a hundred times before to myself but it honestly is true:

Don’t let the little things get you down or sweat the small stuff. Don’t let fear rule your life and ruin your chances.

If I didn’t take this chance to travel, I wouldn’t have made such incredible memories and explored so many places. I don’t know when or if I’d be able to have done the amazing road trip around NZ to ultimately discover a new country and the beauties it has to offer. What I was also really afraid of was not being physically fit to do all the hikes and tramping that I knew we would be doing. But there is nothing wrong with going slow and taking it easy. I’m not in the best of health, but I am striving to achieve that goal and get fitter.

I have no regrets going on that trip. It was so much fun. I learnt to let go a bit. I discovered more about my friend. It was all in my head, we got on perfectly well despite the lack of common interests! It went much better than I expected and we had amazing weather. NZ is a truly beautiful place especially if you love the outdoors, hiking, lakes and mountains!

Those memories of Japan still continue to haunt me (in a good way – I just miss my students!), it was nice to reminisce, challenge myself physically and mentally. For the latter, I went bungee jumping. I feel like as I get older, sadly I become less fearless! I had no qualms going skydiving when I was 21. Though admittedly that is a completely different ballgame and not as terrifying in an odd kind of way. But the point I am making is that I notice that I am starting to take less risks as I get older. It’s not always a bad thing, however, I don’t want that to stick. I want to take risks, to challenge myself. I don’t want to be controlled by fear. So here’s to daring to live fully. Take chances and don’t look back.

 

No longer the best

Friends are so important. They help you through difficult times and they are there for you. Well, if you have friendships that you feel are slipping out of your grasp, be sure to chase them if they are worthy.

I spent two days with my best friend and realised not for the first time a sea of change and a real difference between us. We’ve been friends for over 14 years which is one of my greatest accomplishments. She is my longest friend and the one I considered my best friend to be forever. We met as teens in high school and instantly became fast friends. We have lifted each other out of the darkness one time or another. We are completely different – she is a scientist and I am a philosopher; in school she was in the top set and I was in the bottom. We couldn’t be more different, but what always united us were our shared moral values.

In friendships, it is not unusual to experience a feeling of distance between friends. We are always changing. But today, I discovered as I voiced my feelings of distance, that this time I was not wrong about this uneasy feeling that had crept over me. As a philosopher I needed a question answered before we parted company: “Are we still best friends?” Because the truth was it didn’t feel like it. The previous day, I persuaded her to show me her PhD acknowledgement section and I was surprised to see how very low on the list I was carted in with her other good friends; one whom I did not know about. Don’t get me wrong, I was honoured to be in the section, but I was shocked at how small my part played compared to other friends. It was then that I realised we had somewhere along the line separated. We no longer turned to each other as the first in line to help us with whatever was ailing us. Instead we chose different people, at least she did. I can honestly say I always turned to her first and still to this day. But the struggle of writing her PhD I realised, I could never fully understand. She asked if I was disappointed and I lied and said I was not; it was lovely. But in that moment I felt horrible, like I didn’t mean much any more. Later in the day, I asked when we would be travelling together like she promised, only to be told that she was broke and would not be doing so anytime soon.

As I lay in bed the previous night pondering it all, I decided that I would quietly let go and disappear from her life. I clearly was no longer the best, I was a stranger and she was a stranger to me. The fact that I didn’t know about the struggles she went through and the fact that I had tried to share my struggles but due to all her focus going on her PhD, she had limited time for me. We somehow lost the way to communicate. As with couples, the I becomes We. She was planning to visit me in Japan. Then she invited her boyfriend. I was mad, but I accepted it. Finally she cancelled her trip to visit me in Japan because of the PhD. I wasn’t surprised. I was relieved because I didn’t have to take time off my busy schedule. We had encountered this before. So many times she would cancel on me. So many broken promises. But it didn’t matter because she was my best friend. Well, not anymore. Today I lost a best friend. Or perhaps it was months ago.

As she answered my question, I understood the truth. We were no longer best friends. We had been utterly changed from our experiences, that our lives were no longer close to the same track we had been running on. We were close friends for sure, but we were not solely exclusively best friends. It was very sad. It was the cold, hard truth. It hurt. But it’s okay.

I realised that we are now of an age when we are no longer children, we are adults soon to marry, settle down and have children. We were going in different directions and there was nothing we could do about it. Maybe people shouldn’t have best friends – one best person out of good friends, it’s not really fair. I don’t think I could have another friendship like that again. But at least I have made some lovely friends. So I won’t disappear from this friendship and quietly fade into the background, but I won’t fight no longer being the best, because this time it’s a two way street. It’s a decision and not just mine.

What a difference a year can make

Reflecting back this time last year I was depressed, absolutely miserable and fighting many insecurities, internal conflicts and struggling at work. I hated my supervisor and English co-teacher. She was overworking me and still does to this day and even though she was ‘nice’, she could be cruel. My students don’t like her and I’m not quite sure why. When I wanted to go to my elementary school graduation, she refused because she needed me at junior high school to do 3 normal lessons. It was frustrating and useless as I wasn’t even doing anything important in those lessons. My students were teaching me a game and playing the piano with me and she said they could no longer teach me anymore. She said the other students couldn’t play piano during lunchtime, but we already asked and were granted permission from the music teacher. So in my mind at those times, she was a cruel, jealous and horrible woman. She wasn’t nice or even a good teacher in my thoughts.

Likewise, I hated my 2nd grade students and resented my 1st grade students at Junior high school last year. My 1st grade students were so shy they didn’t want to speak English with me. My 2nd grade students were so mean, they laughed at me, one girl ignored me and turned her back to me when I was talking to her. They were rude. In January, one boy said at lunch during one of my lowest points when I was trying to speak to them that he doesn’t speak English. He hates English and no-one understands. I sat there in silence not daring to speak after that, in such a foul and angry mood wondering what the hell I was doing wasting my time on some useless children who didn’t even want my help nor my teaching. Not that anything would help since their English was beyond despair, since their level was so low and they weren’t even motivated to try. After I finished eating I immediately stood up abruptly and without saying goodbye walked away. I think I shocked them. I almost gave up that day. I almost gave up a few months later after the earthquake.

One year later. 

I am happy. That same boy who told me he didn’t want to speak English began speaking English with me. He taught me a Japanese game and tried to use English to explain. He was patient and kind. That rude attitude and that distrust, suspicion and dislike melted away though I’m not sure when. He still dislikes English, but now he at least tries and has promised to do his best. He’s in 3rd year and has now graduated. I was so sad to see him and the fellow 3rd years go. I fell in love with my students (platonic off course).

I almost gave up on them, but somehow I kept eating lunch with them and I kept speaking English to them. They didn’t like it off course but eventually they opened up, eventually we started to joke and laugh. Those mean 3rd graders became kind and friendly. I don’t know why. The girl who rudely ignored me while I tried to speak to her when she turned her back to me, I was so shocked. six months later she began to thaw. She wouldn’t cover or hide her work anymore, she let me look and check. She didn’t ignore me but would say hi. When I spoke to her, she would try to speak English. She had such a strange personality transplant I wondered what happened. In all these incidents I have no idea why they changed. Maybe they got used to me. It’s hard to replace your predecessor who was so loved by them. It’s hard to fill big shoes, but I managed to change my attitude and they changed theirs. And somehow we improved and they became my favourite classes.They were still naughty sometimes, but more cheeky than bad. They certainly improved a little bit – mainly their speaking and conversational skills.

I don’t hate my teacher anymore. I just accept her, though she still pisses me off from time to time, I no longer care. She is not significant. She is just part of the job and will be leaving in two days.

During graduation, my favourite student when giving me a present told me that he was very glad he met me. He truly had fun in my classes and one day he wants to speak English with me as an adult. Earlier when I met his mother, she told me that he always spoke about me and how kind I was, how he enjoys my classes and wants to do well in English. Truly he was the kind one. He also was enthusiastic about my ideas and games, getting other students involved. He always spoke to me and asked my questions, not letting the conversation die. He always tried even though his level was very low. He always did his best speaking. I was very proud. I managed to inspire one kid out of 44. Only one, but it makes a world of difference to me because I was extremely happy to know I had succeeded with one. He wants to go to America one day. It’s not England but it is abroad at least. It’s not just about Japan. I changed that view.

My 1st years who were very shy have also improved and opened up. They are still quite shy but they are very kind and always have been. They try to speak English and even when I ask questions in Japanese, they reply in English.

I can’t believe the transformations. I have met some wonderful and lovely children. I am so very happy now. I am also sad because my students are leaving and graduating. I am sad because soon I will be leaving and the harsh truth has hit me. I’ll never see them again. But I’ll always love them. I am so so glad I stayed. I am so glad I stuck it out and never gave up because in the end, the benefits reaped were far greater than the losses I’ve experienced here. I am stronger emotionally, internally and as a person. I am more confident.

What a world of difference a year makes. I don’t know what changed and why. I only know that I am now happy.