What a year can do

It still amazes me what can happen in a year. People can walk in and out of your life, changing social circles overnight. You can try new things, gain new skills, and do things that before would have frightened you to tears. For me, a lot of what has changed this past year can be traced back to one person–a person who walked out of my life and quietly locked the door. He shook me up and helped me realize a lot of things about the world and myself. But no matter what the cause, no matter who started this tiny revolution inside me, I know now that I continue doing it because of me.

I keep pushing myself to try things I’ve always wanted to do. This past weekend I performed on stage with a band for the first time. It was always a silent dream of mine to be a musician in some capacity, but I never had the courage or motivation to do it seriously and in front of people. I was so shy and too self-conscious. When I moved abroad and essentially had to rearrange my personality to keep from drowning in the Pacific, I gained a lot of confidence.  So when I met a few guys through my program who play music, I had a decent opportunity to put myself out there. The old me would have said no and hoped I was begged to sing, but over time I loosened up. We started hanging out musically around April and continued playing music and improving up until our first performance together.

Being in a band is hard work, especially for someone like me who isn’t exactly a musical genius. Going solo or doing a two-piece act is difficult too, I’m sure, but for different reasons. With a band of four, you have to think about the schedules, styles, and personality types of three other people. Everyone has their own way, but we all had to find some common ground. Maybe in a bigger city where it’s fairly easy to find driven musicians who share your tastes this isn’t a huge problem, but here in small town Japan, it can be challenging to start and keep a band. My two friends (and band mates) have had three different projects in the last year. The whole thing is and was a massive learning experience. Working with friends and being subject to criticism is uncomfortable. It’s like hearing that you snore for the first time…all the things you think you don’t do are reveled and you want to cry a bit but you also realize the benefit. Now you can get better!

I’m really looking forward to getting better and trying new things in the future. I’m 24, but I feel like there’s so much about life I’ve yet to discover, so many layers to myself I’ve yet to peel back and expose.

 

I am nowhere near perfect. At all. But I’m not really trying to be Beyonce or anything. I just enjoy doing this, and seeing as this blog focuses on my more creative interests, I thought I’d share! Maybe next time there will be a video. See you next time!

Third Year

My oh my! It has been over a month since I’ve last posted. I guess I’ve been a bit busy. Sorry >-<

 

I have started my third year as an ALT after all. The originally plan was to only stay in Kagoshima for 2 years and then try to get a different job or go back to school. Life has a funny way of hardly ever doing what you want it to. Oh well, it’s best not to dwell in the past I’ve been told. Actually, I’m not that upset I’m still here. I do occasionally wish I had moved on sooner and left, but there are some things to still be happy about.

Last summer I took the level 2 Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) and passed! So I’m one step closer to being fluent (on paper)! My spoken Japanese is getting better too though. I’ve shed most of my fears of daily life in Japan, and because of this have been able to communicate with those around me better. Not only does this mean I get more stuff done and understand the world I live in better, I’ve also gotten pretty good at speaking Japanese. Not to toot my own horn or anything, it’s just Japanese is really hard, and it’s nice to be sort of good at something!

In addition to being able to serve my sass in a foreign tongue, I’ve also gotten a lot better at teaching. I think. I really get to shine at elementary schools where few other people speak English, and I can actually teach whole classes by myself. Not a huge accomplishment maybe, but getting 60 seven-year-old monsters to listen to you speak in their language is pretty big for me. Plus, the longer I’m around, the more my kids grow to like me (or put up with me…however you want to look at it). Well, I mean, kids tell me they love me, so I’m doing something right, right? I do love my students, and most of the teachers and staff I work with are lovely as well. In fact, the nurse at one of my elementary schools is so excited when I’m at the school that she pats my head and nearly hugs me every time. It’s a bit odd, I’ll admit, but I’ll take it.

Finally, I have friends. I know, crazy. Friends are hard, but somehow I’ve manage to make a few who really like me (or again, put up with me). Two of my friends recently got married, and I wish it wasn’t weird for me to hug them both for 5 minutes every time I see them. I just love their love that much.

Actually, that brings me to one major reason I wish I wasn’t living here anymore. Most of my friends, especially the ones who are physically close to me, are in relationships. Long-term, committed, beautiful relationships. I don’t wish anything else for them. In fact, I love talking about relationships and love and all that gross stuff. It just always makes me remember the main reason I am still living in Shibushi; at the time I decided to re-sign my contract, I had a future with someone else to look forward to. I do wish sometimes I could escape to a big city and never look back, but a big part of me knows that I needed this place. I needed that experience. I needed to know what it was like to part with someone. And I know there’s a reason I’m still living here. I’m not done with this place. Everyday I go to bed wishing that I could up and leave, but every morning I wake up alive and happy and ready for my next mini adventure in Kagoshima.

I also think I’m still here because I have no money, and it’s really hard to move to somewhere like Fukuoka or Tokyo without a little clank in your pocket. I do miss my friends and family back in the states, but I’m not ready to go back. I’ve come this far haven’t I? So next year, I’m planning to start my big city Japan life. If I can find someone who wants to hire me.

 

Until next time, take care!