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.

 

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New revelations

My life right now seems to be like one of those soap dramas that many people watch. Every day is a new drama whether it’s politically; division and consequences of the EU referendum result and post-Brexit, the US political campaign drama, social and online drama with regards to racial abuse on twitter or just general life drama in Japan. The whole universe seems to be in a massive kerfuffle and mess. My life recently has been very busy and exciting, but the drama has peaked and doesn’t look to be receding anytime soon.

A brief summary of events in the past month. My best friend in Japan, in my town is leaving and returning back home. I am utterly devastated. She has been my rock, my amazing senpai and she is absolutely lovely, smart, fun and talented. When you find special people, treasure them for life – they are worth the effort. I am going home for a holiday next week and I will have to say goodbye. I am crap at goodbyes and I really don’t want to say goodbye. I could say see you soon I suppose, but life won’t be the same in Japan with out my biggest supporter. I will miss Ju-san so much! Every time I see her, I just want to shout out: “Don’t go!!” But life is such, we all move on. It’s time for Ju-san to leave so there it is, the cold, hard fact.

Anyway, onto another dramatic topic, since my birthday, I thought there was a guy interested in me. We had a few intimate moments of hand holding, flirting and great discussions. He is my friend. He is one of the good guys, a lovely, sweet guy. ‘This is it!’ I thought, I can see myself with this lovely, kind guy. He’s a great match. This weekend I found out the startling revelation that he is in fact a player. My new lesson learned? Don’t trust nice guys. Sometimes it’s a mask or a trick. I won’t go into too much detail but I found out from my friend that this guy had been on a few dates and had told her that he knew exactly “how” to attract the girls and “what” to say. It seems that he’s not used to such high levels on attention which isn’t surprising since Japan is a washed up shore with limited choice. When I found all this information out, I wanted to do the opposite. I felt confusion and annoyance that he used my attention and compliments to flatter his ego, but his intentions towards me were narcissistic and in vain.

During another one of his moments when he tried to get me to tell him how great and talented he is by putting himself down and self-deprecatingly telling me how useless he was, instead of saying the usual; “Aww no you’re amazing! You’re so talented, you can play the piano, violin and the fiddle! Don’t be so hard on yourself!” I instead resorted to agreeing with him. “Yeah, you’re shit.”, “Yeah you’re talentless and useless.” He looked at me like a wounded dog stunned into silence and disbelief. I didn’t feel one ounce of pity, I felt pleasure. That sounds horrible, but let me justify it – he needed someone to disagree with him and shut this bullshit down. I don’t like being taken advantage of and I especially don’t like attention-seekers. I have had enough of telling other people how great they are when they are being absolutely annoying.

I later realised that he is very insecure and his negativity rubbed off onto me, but as soon as I realised it, I shut it down. This happened because he kept complaining and blowing his own sad trumpet. It started to manifest in my dreams where my old insecurities and pain rose to the fore. I was shocked into awareness and consciousness with a bitter taste in my mouth but also a strong resolution that I would not get tangled in them again. I dealt with my issues years ago, I healed those wounds and nothing would make me want to cut them open again and revisit the pain and the past. I already have enough baggage. This is not the kind of boyfriend I would want. I don’t want to have to keep affirming that someone is great. I don’t want to have to sort out someone else’s life. Mine has enough shit in it. I am trying to sort out my life. I am trying to teach children to the best of my ability and I am trying to do that with confidence. I can’t be part of a pity party. So that part of the drama in my life has simmered down. I’ve made it clear I’m no longer interested and I’ve walked away. End of chapter.

Onto the next drama,  since Ju-san is leaving, her new successor is a young woman with a 4 year old child. This is problematic for my small, rural town which has rejected her. But she doesn’t know yet that they don’t want her and she is still coming because the rejection wasn’t accepted by the organisation because it’s too late. I feel for this woman who will have to settle into a new life in an unwelcome town because I know how it feels to be isolated and cut off. Believe me, the indifference and silence is just as damning as the quiet, simmering hatred. I have a huge task on my hands to help her. Coming alone is hard enough, but coming with a kid is even worse. This town has never had an English teacher with a family so it will be revealing and interesting to see how this develops. I only hope it works out in the end. But I’m not so sure.

When will the drama end?

Birthday surprises

In two days it will be my birthday. I’ll be a quarter of a century old and I’m hoping that in two days I won’t have grown white hair or torn my hair out from stress and frustration. Planning a birthday party in a foreign country is like constantly smashing your head against a brick wall. First, there’s the language and trying to understand and communicate. Second you’ve made a big mistake and invited over 17 friends but didn’t expect everyone to actually attend. So now you’re stuck trying to find a place big enough to accommodate us all. Don’t get me wrong there are places, but in Japan not so many. We’ll probably be split up which is fine, if only I could understand if that was what they were saying. I have no idea to be honest. This was a very bad idea. Japan doesn’t really cater for big foreign groups and I can’t say that I blame them. Not many restaurants where I live are very big. Not to mention that my level of Japanese is limited and quite frankly terrible. I’m trying, but it’s one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do. I’ve faced rejections from more than 5 restaurants already and I’m already in despair as I’ve just spent the last few hours hoping and failing namely falling flat on my face while my dreams of a smooth party do not exactly pan out.

But for now that’s not what’s important. It’s important to recognise all the people who want to celebrate with me. I never thought so many people would turn up or even want to come. I am lucky to have such good friends and so many too. They’re not all perfect, we do have some differences, but they are there. I’m not normally so lucky with friends, so this is pretty amazing. So I will just persevere and hope everything will work out, even though everything has not been in my favour. So does anyone want to actually plan my birthday while I take off on a jet plane to somewhere relaxing, namely one of my nice fantasies since a last minute holiday is out of the picture these days. Anyone? Any takers? Yeah I don’t blame you, I wouldn’t either.

Anyway here’s to nothing going right in life, to the unplanned, the spontaneous, the exciting, the unexpected, the good, the bad and the love.

Grasping at straws

I sure am churning out these blog posts recently. I can’t stop writing. Anyway, today I reached a crossroads. I am lost or should I say confused about which path to take. Each path is dark and surely paved with challenges, but the million pound question in my mind is do I stay or do I leave?

A few days ago I asked whether it would be possible to leave and go back home in July. I would have been here for a year and after the earthquake and unhappiness I felt it was time to cut my losses and get the hell outta here. I came to accept it this morning which is ironic really because in the afternoon, I am told that I can leave. I can’t tell if my unhappiness these past few months have stemmed from the earthquake or if I was unhappy before that? The truth? I was unhappy before the earthquakes. I had problems with my brother who finally won the battle to drag me through the mud. It’s the second time he’s succeeded. I’ve never cried so much than I have this year and it’s only April. Every month I’ve been cursed with some unforgettable crisis. December – car accident, January – depression, February – was okay, March – change of staff and deterioration of relationship with main teacher, April – cancellation of flight, earthquakes, car accident no.2, return to depression. This month I’ve been hit with the worst all in one go. It’s not even  my car as well – it’s my Board of Education’s.

I want to go home. I want to stay. I am a walking contradiction. I feel like that is my life.

I don’t know what I’m hoping to achieve if I stay. Is there anything for me here? I don’t think so. I guess I’ve answered my own question but somehow I don’t know why, I don’t feel right leaving. I can’t explain it. Most people ask me what my gut is telling me, but honestly I don’t know. My gut is just as confused. A few days ago when I thought I couldn’t leave, I felt outraged, trapped and finally acceptance. I can’t tell if I was a little bit relieved. But I also felt like I didn’t know how I would survive another year. Today, when I am being told that I can leave in July, I feel disappointment and sadness. What is wrong with me? Why am I having these conflicting emotions? Why do I feel like a failure if I decide to go home? Why can’t I deal with any of these problems by myself? Why does it all have to be so difficult?

One of the main reasons and one of the only reasons I want to stay is because I can’t bear to leave my kids yet. It breaks my heart to even think of leaving them. I love them so much and I’ve already formed this emotional attachment in the space of just 9 months! It’s ridiculous! It’s natural. It’s crazy. Can you believe the only thing keeping me here is my children? Most of them hate English so what’s the point of even staying? But I just can’t seem to leave them. There’s only a handful I can’t bear leaving. They are so beautiful, bright and wonderful. Everytime I think of leaving I think of their smiles. But what if I do leave? I feel irrationally jealous of the new ALT who would arrive and take over my schools. We are all irreplaceable and that is fine. But I still don’t know if I want to be replaced just yet. Would one more year hurt?

If I went home what would I do? I shouldn’t be scared to face the future. Will I regret though? I could go somewhere new. I could teach in another country. I could travel more. I could discover something else. Anything is possible. Those possibilities makes me excited and yet scared. Is it time to go home? Lord, I don’t know. I am afraid of the future, but I am also afraid of my choice. Today I found out my best friend was surprised when I announced my decision to stay in January. If I stay, my life has to change drastically. But what do I do? Universe send me a sign!

What am I clinging onto?

 

 

 

Change is harder than people think….

“A great writer reveals the truth even when he or she does not wish to.” Tom Bissell- This quote popped up after I published this article and I just had to include it because it was very true for this story of mine. So without further ado here is some of my ugly truth.

So I recently successfully completed a telephone interview and I have an assessment day on Wednesday but I am very scared, but  I don’t really know why. I suppose it is because of the failures of my last interviews and I am afraid of how people perceive me. But the truth is I am trying to find myself and this day is for a job in sales. Everyone says that people should follow their dreams, but this is not my dream and I know in my heart that this job is not the right one for me. I want to run and not take part. I want to ring up and say I am not interested but that is the coward in me who doesn’t want to bother with the effort or the research. I hate presentations and I don’t want to do it so I want to run. But there is always something in me which stops me from quitting- which makes me face the things I hate. Because if I don’t face them I’ll always be scared and run away. If I don’t try I’ll never know. That is the part of me I love and hate at the same time. If I give up now there’s no point because I didn’t even try. Even though I don’t want the job, the experience of the interview is good. But another part of me says what’s the point? I should save myself the humiliation! Well who knows I could meet some very nice people. I could actually learn something. I could stop running from my fears. No I don’t really want this job, but I do want to try and experience things. For me jumping out of a plane or para-sailing is far more exciting, but it is also a lot more dangerous.

That day I answered the call- I didn’t care I just went for it because I knew I had nothing to lose and I didn’t really care. But now, now that I have passed the interview I do care. Or perhaps it is that I care about how I look in front of top business people. I don’t want to make a fool of myself in front of them. I don’t want to fail. I just want to get this over and done with but at the same time I want to run in the other direction and not face this day.

Recently I have been fearing the future. I don’t know why but it was my graduation last week and I was not looking forward to the stress, seeing people, the fear of tripping over my heels. But on the day during they ceremony I felt blessed. I felt so happy- going up for my certificate I had no time to be scared because I was happy. This was what I worked 3 years for. All my hard work paid off. So why didn’t I want to face the day? Can you imagine what would have happened if I missed it? I would have missed out on such much! On such a momentous and important day for me. Granted there was a lot of people I didn’t want to see and didn’t want to talk to and I didn’t really talk to them because who says you have to? University is over. All that matters is what you achieved and who you are.

After America over the summer I have not been the same. I thought I hadn’t changed which I disliked because I wished to change- I wanted to be more confident but the truth is I had changed. I had become worse, more fearful, more reserved and quiet! I came to hate myself. Such a shame just as I was coming out of my shell after all the good uni had done! Even after these few months I hated me. I wanted to forget. I wanted to forget when people hurt me. I wanted to forget everything. I was ashamed. Why? Because I did not like me. Why did I care so much what people think? I don’t know. When I spoke to someone they said why would you want to change? You’re fine the way you are! Well I think I do need to change some things but I am fine. I’ll take that!

The problem is I let my insecurities rule me and I let fear control me. I hate it and I am trying to change it. I am trying to change me for the better. But it is no easy process. Things happen for a reason. The other day someone asked me what my dream job would be and I thought and in my head I had absolutely no idea! But because I needed an answer I said I would like to have been an author. Truthfully I don’t think I would have! I like writing stories- but for myself and for my friends. Perhaps I would have liked to have been a doctor. No maybe I would have liked to have worked for a charity. I still could- I like helping people so I could work for a charity. Maybe I will try it. It’s not impossible and completely out of my reach unlike medicine where I actually need a medical degree.

Nothing is impossible! I just have to keep telling myself that. I need to change. I need to wake up and be positive. I need to get back to where I began. When I was a baby I had no care in the world and was not affected by any external judgements. So I can’t get back that far. But I can shield myself from criticism. I can choose not to let things affect me. It is hard to change, but I must do it. I must be the change I want to be. But most importantly I must learn to love myself.

At least I know that some people love me, my family, friends and most importantly God. That’s right me and the man upstairs are changing the rules. I will not fail. And if I do that’s ok I’ll just get right back up and start again.

Sad at the end of a Manga….sometimes left wanting more!

Right well when I get hooked on something I get obsessed! I lead a very unhealthy life with unhealthy obsessions but I can’t seem to help it! They seem to take me away from my silly boring life and they let me escape! They transport me to a happy world where I can live in the world of the characters and pretend that what is happening to them is happening to me! I read shoujo manga because it makes me happy but also because I like romance! One day I hope to have a powerful and strong romance that will last like it does in so many of the stories and mangas I have read.

I have to admit that at first I always wished that mangas would be in colour because they look better. But now I am used to the black and white and actually I like in black and white! The characters in the manga also are ones that I fall in love with! I swear I actually have crushes on non existent manga characters which is funny because I am in love with these drawings of the guys! Call me weird but it cannot be helped, it can only be confessed! They just look so attractive some of them and I love the way they are drawn. Usually manags make me feel all happy and fuzzy inside! But when they end they make me depressed and dissatisfied with life and people. Not sure why and don’t think it should make me feel like that but I suppose it is because I don’t really have much of a life so I take refuge in these stories and connect with the characters and fall in love with the mean but nice guy. It seems that like reality no one wants a mean guy, but girls always go for the bad guy because they are interesting and we want to know what makes them act the way they do. They have a certain allure and mysteriousness. Whereas nice guys are soo sweet and lovely but somehow are boring. (Well not all nice guys) But somehow I want a nice guy but who is also not too nice that I could easily dominate him. I suppose what I am saying is you want that balance and not one single person being domineering in the relationship. Anyway what am I saying? These are only characters after all!

Anyway the main point of this post is that yesterday I finished reading a manga “Stepping on Roses” and it is the first manga that really made me feel sad that it was over. The other mangas that I have read previously have been very long and some have not even ended yet so I’ve not had the chance to have the feeling, but those that have been short and ended have left me content. This particular manga though was just so powerful in its own way and left an impact on me which I somehow can’t describe how or why it left an impact. Maybe it is because recently I have been feeling pretty crap and unsatisfied with my life that I am left unsatisfied with the ending of the story. Don’t get me wrong I liked the ending and I liked the story very much, the problem is I just didn’t want it to end. In fact it ended too soon! Although there is no point dragging some stories on, this one I just could get lost in. 

If it continued on forever it would become boring because it needs to be exceptional to hold my attention for a long time, though normally this does not usually last. Its really hard to explain but all I can say is I don’t like this empty feeling that I have been left with. Usually I get it with animes, but this time it is a manga that has left me feeling sad! I want to know more- I want to read more but it is over so how can I? I really need to get a proper life! But I can’t stop reading and I can’t stop falling into these traps! Maybe one day things will be different? Only one can hope! But for now I will just have to find another manga to satisfy my manga/anime needs and so forth continue with the endless vicious circle. Anyone recommendations for a romantic shoujo? I am in need of something new!

Today I am feeling optimistic despite this horrible weather and sad atmosphere! I have been moping around the house recently I will admit and it never helps! Right now I am listening to a beautiful song that I heard many years ago which has inspired me and helped me up when I was down “What have you done today to make you feel proud” by Heather Small. It is a great song and expresses exactly how I feel and how I look at life. But this is something everyone should be thinking about. Everyone has potential- that is potential to do good or do bad, the potential to work hard or be lazy. All you have to do is try and okay you may not always get what you want, you may get rejected but some of the best people in life always try. Everyone fails at something and that is how you build yourself up. I am trying to find a job right now and it is tough and I have not been having any luck but it doesn’t matter. I will continue trying till I succeed. I will continue because I know I can do well. I believe in myself.

I have a friend and she knows exactly what she wants to do in life. She wants to be a doctor and I kind of envy her because she knows what she wants and she found her dream career whereas I have no idea what I want to have a career in. However she keeps seeing things blocking her path. I suggest ideas and she keeps putting them down and to be honest she is not being realistic because okay I understand there are difficulties getting into medicine, but it all depends on how bad you want it and what kind of person you are. She is extremely smart and I know she can do well- she can get a First Class Honours Degree, she can draw, make things and is very smart but she is also very pessimistic and foolish in some ways. I am not that intelligent I am smart in other ways but I do try and put all my effort into things. Something inside so strong I know that I can make it. I wanted a First Class Degree but I got a 2:1 and that is still good! I am extremely happy and proud of myself even though I didn’t reach the First I tried and worked my hardest. I wanted a life social life and other experiences and sometimes things take sacrifice. My friend keep saying that it costs a lot of money and she doesn’t know if she can afford living out even if she goes to Scotland where university is free. She doesn’t know if she is entitled to this free education because she comes from the UK. But these things require research and right now she is just shooting them down and making excuses based on things she has no idea about. Education could very well be free for her too and she may never know or realise because she didn’t bother to look just because it might not be. I am tired of the excuses and call me an optimist, a fool or an unrealistic person living in la la land- I don’t care what you call me. I don’t care what you say because at least I have faith and I believe. Question is do you believe in you? I sure hope you do because it is very important. I have faith in people even those who are bad because you can turn your life around.

I want people to know that yes life is hard and sometimes thing don’t always go your way but you can achieve and do your best. All you can do is hope and if it doesn’t work out at least you tried. No regrets right? You tried so what’s to regret! Keep trying till you die. Don’t ever give up on life and I know it can be easy sometimes to just throw in the towel but its not worth it. There is so much out there you can achieve. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel- you just have to be strong and wait. There is sometimes even a helping hand. Trying is the key! 🙂 Everyone has a choice and it is never too late to start making those choices, paths, decisions. Believe in the strength and most importantly in you! I hope you achieve all the things you want!

So if you have failed at something or you got a bad mark or you were rejected in love, relationships/freidnships- then my advice to you is pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again! Have faith in you and your abilities and even if you feel like you don’t have any talents think about yourself and what you’re good at. Nothing is impossible because even the word impossible has possible in it!

Love the ever hopeful optimist (I have been told I live in la la land= oh well at least I like the bright side of life)

What have you done today to make you feel proud?