In times of stress

This post was written in November 2016. I just forgot to publish it so here it is.

It’s been a while, but I’ve been very busy. That’s always my excuse I know. Today was a good day but a very tiring one. It was culture festival at school and it was very funny when the children performed their drama shows. I may understand very little Japanese, but the actions and gestures I could at least follow.

At the end, the children posed for photos and asked all the teachers to pose with them except me. I took the photos instead, but you know what? I know my kids like me. I know they don’t mind me and I know some hate me. I don’t mind. This time last year, I would have cried unnecessarily and wondered what was wrong with me, why I wasn’t popular. But now it’s such a small thing and although it hurt at first, I realised that it really doesn’t matter because what’s important is that I don’t let the small things get to me. Don’t sweat the small things as they say. It’s one of the reasons I realised that I love my other elementary school so much. The children are so different, so inclusive in everything they do, so much more welcoming, friendly and happy. I enjoy their company so much and I feel appreciated. At my other schools, I don’t feel appreciated so much, but I’ve learnt to accept that this is just the way things are going to be until I finish. And you know what? It’s okay. It’s okay that I’m not fully accepted or liked, it’s okay that I make mistakes, it’s okay that things don’t work the way I want them to. It’s okay because life is a journey and this is just a fact of life. There is no such thing as perfection or being universally liked. What are the burdens with being universally liked? Well for one thing, it’s like living a lie, in an expectation and not being able to break free. It’s so much nicer when you can be yourself and not care what others think. Truly it is. It’s something I am learning and discovering and it feels difficult but great. As a person who has always pandered to requests and tried to be the ‘nice person’, I often got sick of it. It was too demanding and it feels way better to have an opinion, to be nice and respectful but not walked upon. It’s nice to say no sometimes.

I’ve thought many times of just throwing in the towel and walking away, but somehow I can’t seem to do it. It would be so easy to just walk away, book a flight and leave. It would be so easy to up and leave, but everything has consequences and I’m not about just giving up when the getting gets tough. It’s taken a lot of effort to stay and it has been worth it. Things have improved exceptionally and although I face many internal challenges as well as other challenges, it serves to teach me something. I always try to better myself, take risks, learn how to overcome challenges and pressure. I realised another thing today. I don’t do well under pressure.

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What I’ve done

So it’s not been the best of starts to 2016, but there have been some notable adventures worth mentioning. Let’s start with the positive:

  1. I visited Mt. Fuji which was just incredible – there’s nothing like looking at a beautiful snow-capped mountain and knowing your problems are minuscule in those blessed few hours. Unfortunately it doesn’t last, but the exquisiteness and memory will constantly seek to remind you.
  2. I met some great people on New Years but then there was a falling out between my best friend and one of the girls because of her passive aggressiveness and rudeness. Made things complicated, still the positive memories are worth holding onto.
  3. I returned back to school knowing I was wanted at least at my favourite elementary school. But I wonder whether I can do this for another year.

It’s only been 8 days so that’s all I have but intermingled with the positives are the negatives. Since 16th December 2015, I have been facing some challenges and going through a period of extreme loneliness despite being surrounded by my family. I suppose it happened when they started to leave to go back one by one until only one was left standing. We parted ways yesterday and I don’t know when I’ll next see them. It could be 7 months or it could be a year or even a year and a half and that’s if I decide to stay in Japan for another year.

Living in Japan comes with many amazing opportunities and moments, though as with living anywhere life gets in the way and tries to smack you down just when you think your confidence is increasing. That is until life reminds you it’s not you’re just living a lie.

Last year the thing I feared most when driving happened and I hit a child on a bicycle. He’s okay, but I wasn’t. Within that moment I thought I had taken a life. Oh how quick it happens, how everything can change in a moment’s notice. How horrifyingly scary and yet I immediately stopped the car and shaken walked over to the kid. He protested that he was fine, I spoke to his parents later and they assured me he was okay. It didn’t help that I couldn’t effectively communicate in the same language, but I am grateful he was okay. No matter who was in the wrong, as the driver I am still responsible and it is my fault for not spotting him until it was too late. Blind corners are the worst, but I am haunted by the memories and although I still drive, I am afraid history will repeat itself. It was an accident, these things happen I am told, but what if something worse occurred? I don’t think I could live with myself and thus began the consistent questioning ever since. Can I live this life? Can I stay here? Will others be safe from me? Will I hurt someone else? I could easily leave, but I’m not sure that’s wise. I think I’ll be forever running fearful to continue. I can’t live like this and so went my confidence down the drain. That’s the start of when my world decided to crumble. I’m not happy. I’m always angry. I hate myself. I hate that there are some things I can’t control. I hate that I get jealous when there’s no need. I hate that I have let people drag me through the mud. I hate that I don’t have the confidence I need. How can I teach others when I am completely lacking myself?

I am trying to deal with this coupled with my shaken confidence, my low self-esteem and low self-worth. I get angry so easily and it builds up inside. I let it go when I visited Mt. Fuji, but now all that remains is Facebook and it’s jealousy. Why is everyone having a ball and I’m left standing in a freezer? Why does it look like everything else that people are doing is more fun? Why do I continue to compare myself? Why do I hate myself so much? It is a bad habit and one that Facebook does not help, but instead perpetuates. It’s as if I’m looking from afar into the interesting lives of others, but I can’t reach them. I’m the outsider looking from the window but not participating or even a part of the group. The truth is I don’t like them, I don’t want to be a part of it, I just want the adventures with friends, the fun and I want a set of friends to travel with. But the world doesn’t work the way you want it to and you don’t always get what you want so I am dealing with it. I am dealing with loneliness and the fight. It’s a constant battle and sometimes I think it would just be easier to surrender and take the easy way out, but something within me can’t, because that wouldn’t work either, I’d still have the same problems.

There are too many memories that have the power to either control you or haunt you, but that’s if you choose to let them, so it’s a tricky game. They are not just memories to look over fondly or dispassionately, they are a part of you and your past whether you like it or not. They made you the person you are today.

It’s decision time soon and the clock is ticking. Will I stay or will I leave? Will I hide or will I face those ugly demons? I don’t know yet, but only time will tell.

The grass is always greener on the other side

So as you know from my last post, I recently left my old job and after the consequences finally sunk in and I was devastated and fell into a kind of deep regretfulness. When I spoke to my best friend, she said something which didn’t strike me until now.

The grass is always greener on the other side but it doesn’t actually mean that it is necessarily better.

She’s right. It’s like admiring something from a shop window and wishing you had the money to buy it, day by day you watch it entranced, the want becoming more like a need. The tension builds up for months on end until one day you have the means to buy it for yourself. Now that you’ve got it, you realise that it wasn’t actually that important; you no longer want it after a while because we always forget and move on. Because in the end you will forget, you misplace something and you forget and move on. You might be reminded of it sometimes, you might visit the item again, but ultimately it doesn’t matter so much in the grand scheme of things. This is exactly the same feeling, day by day I feel the control and hurt lessen. It’s been more than a month since I left and I can honestly say I don’t regret my decision anymore, not for one second. Why? My life has changed, my eyes have been opened. I’ve met so many different people – if I didn’t leave I wouldn’t have met some lovely and genuinely nice people. I wouldn’t have challenged myself – I would have been stuck in a rut constantly unhappy and constantly moaning to the ones I love. If I hadn’t left I wouldn’t have been challenged socially – I would have stayed insecure and scared. But part of my job requires the confidence to know what you are doing since you are in control and if you screw up, you’re directly responsible and you have a lot of people to answer to.

The company has opened so many doors for me and already within the month I’ve experienced a lot. I’ve learnt so much and I genuinely do believe I am working for a fantastic company and I’m actually very lucky I was hired. The interview was a complete fluke and they must have been desperate since I was supposed to go for a second interview, but they just offered the job immediately after I hesitated. Wow the power is always in your hands whether you realise it or not and I didn’t realise it at the time. We make our own decisions. I met up with my friend from the old company and he was telling me about how they were being sent to Venice for a conference for 2 days, they were having parties thrown, 2 bonuses etc. he went on about all the amazing new things happening and it sounded wonderful – I’m not that high up on my horse that I couldn’t see it and disregard it all. But at the same time, I felt nothing and that was when I realised that I was over it. When I went to meet him at the company I felt nothing. In fact my first thought was “Oh gosh it’s tiny compared to my new office.” It felt small and slightly suffocating and that was when I just knew I am okay – I am over it. I was so unhappy in my last job, I had forgotten how miserable I was, how unchallenged and bored I was. All those feelings went out the window when I lost it all, when I felt ‘cheated’ and now I remember all the bad times as well as the good. The grass looks greener, but in fact it’s not. I just built it up in my mind and refused to move on. But I have now and I feel free.

I feel happier in all aspects and now it’s just time to wait. I don’t know what the future holds, but I won’t give up and I will try not to lose sight. I am questioning whether I actually want to work in Marketing anymore. The thing is I get bored easily and I don’t know, I just feel like it’s not really for me. I don’t know what exactly is for me but working in this job makes you realise things you like and things you don’t like. You might have a lot of regrets, you might wish you took a chance, but never fear because another different chance will always appear. In life, I think about all the chances I let go, but there are also all the chances I grabbed. If you want something grab it, if you don’t know, don’t worry because there are so many opportunities its overwhelming. All I know right now is that I like helping people. I would like to do some volunteering work one day, I would like to travel, I would like to try my hand at different jobs. This corporate role right now is just a means to an end to achieve those goals and I will try not to get stuck in it. I don’t think it will happen. You never know though, but this I am sure about. My self-esteem is not great, my confidence and belief in myself is also weak, but day by day I am learning to accept myself. I am learning more of what I like, what I’m comfortable with – I like gossip I am human, but I don’t like when it turns vulgar and becomes cruel. I am learning what I should do and how I should act in the future – don’t let people push you into things, don’t let people bully you – sometimes it’s good to be pushed because I was quite literally pushed into this job by my agency which I resented them for and still begrudgingly still do, but don’t let people push you unless they force your hand, just remember it is always your choice and you have to live with the consequences, not them – YOU.

Everything has a way of circling on itself and working out for the best. Funny enough I met a colleague in my department who applied for a job at my previous company and turns out it was the same job I had applied for one and a half years ago. I got it and she didn’t. I got the chance and she got another opportunity at a different company before joining this current company 6 months ago. It’s funny how life works!

A dream is not always better than reality. The other side might look perfect after you’ve left, but take off those rose-tinted glasses and you’ll see the truth. Reality hits hard. Not everything is as great as is perceived. Perception can be deceptive just as my Philosophy lectures taught me 3 years ago.