I know that it has been about a month since my last post but a bit has happened in this last month including ending one school year, going home to Hawaii for a week, returning to Tokyo for several days and visiting my host families for the first time in 2 years, starting a new school year, and getting sick–again. Waking up burning with a fever with entire body aches, knowing you need to get up to take medicine but just not being able to, was a slap-in the face and reality check about what it is like to live alone. There’s no mom to bring me a drink and the medicine to bed so that I could gulp it down and then go back to sleep. There’s no one to make me some chicken noodle soup while I rest, bring me an ice pack wrapped in a towel, or a cup of ice to chew on. No one to rub my head and keep me company and no dog to cuddle and serve as a bedside nurse.
While I do love living alone and I enjoy being by myself, it is really different when you realize that you are actually alone. Especially living and working in a foreign country where you may have friends and relatives but they are far away. I feel that strain the most when I am sick and have to be my own primary caregiver, picking myself up to get a drink and medicine or else I won’t get better and making my own soup. I remember when I was little and I was sick and had to throw up I would be crying over the toilet and calling for my mom or grandma. But alas now I am living alone and even if I cry it’s me who is going to have to figure it out myself in the end.
I have been living on my own for about 8.5 months now and I think that it has already changed me in big ways. I wouldn’t say that I’ve gotten used to living in Japan or that I have mastered any aspects of life since I still can’t cook and I know I let things like cleaning my house and washing my car get away from me more often than I should, but I still would like to think that I’ve progressed a lot in this short amount of time and that have reason to be proud of myself.
I am still not great at cooking but somehow I have been getting by and cooking 3 meals a day most day of the week including my daily bentos to take to school. I have also been getting better at budgeting and tracking how much I spend so that I can figure out how much I can possibly save towards future big plans and the next stage after JET. I have also gotten a bit less scared of driving and although I still do not venture out far from town, I have done things that I never could have imagined myself doing without being placed in an area where I had to do it.
A lot of the growth I have seen since moving to Japan definitely came from necessity. If I didn’t figure out how to cook anything then I wouldn’t be eating. If I didn’t try my best to drive then I wouldn’t have even been able to accept this job placement. I have also had to learn to be okay with being in my own company and accepting that not everyone is going to like/care about you and that’s okay. If the person that I am going to be spending the most amount of time with is myself, I better learn to like them and if there’s things I don’t like then maybe it wouldn’t hurt to try and change them.
While my time here is temporary, 2 years is a long time. I hope to continue to grow as a person and keep my heart open to forming genuine connections with people here that will last far beyond the time where I actually live here. Some of my best friends and people that I have grown to love were people who I met in a limited time but kept in touch with over time, continuing to get closer to even when we were far apart. I hope that I will leave the JET Program with a handful of those people. I know I already have a few and for that I am grateful.
For now I will try not to fret so much about being alone and not being “productive” and just enjoy the slower pace of life and lack of many responsibilities. I hope to use that time to do the things that I actually want to do and spend it with people who I actually want to be with. I am really not one just to stay around people just so that I am not alone. I would much rather be alone that deal with shallow relationships of convenience or “if you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours” kind of deals.
Time is passing by quickly and before I know it my second year on JET will be here. On my second year I really plan to get to work so I should enjoy the rest of my 4 months in my first year to just kind of take it easy. I have a lot of things I am looking forward to in the future which I would like to share with you all as well.
Thank you for reading!