Question via Facebook:
When did you know moving to Japan was the right decision?
I’m going to be honest with you. This is one of those ‘girl gets dumped by boy’ stories. If you don’t like them you can just skip this post.
First off, I had been keenly interested in Japan since Sailor Moon saved my life, taught me how to make friend, and put an end to years of DSHing. Issues, I have them. So Japan was always in the cards, whether it was holiday or forever I didn’t know, but it was going to happen.
Fast forward to my last year of university. I had broken up with a guy who cheated on me a lot and started dating “the dream guy” [(i.e. we met at an anime convention and he was dressed as my favorite character) I never said I’m not shallow.]. Now dream guy and I dated almost a year when it abruptly ended with claims that I had stolen medication from him, claims from both his mother and him. As the child of people who are easily substance addicted let me tell you how ridiculous and insulting this is. I know it now. But sweet summer child me did not. Oh, how she wailed and cried and assured him it had not been her (it really hadn’t). But, heavens be blessed, he would give her another chance! She jumped at it! (Past me: self-respect, learn it.)
So, semi-merrily she attended another convention with him and her little brother. Then a hurricane feel upon them during the con. Younger me and present me are terrified of lightning and thunder, having been in two house fires caused by lightning. So there, crammed into post office box corridors with hundreds of others I turned to my maybe-again-boyfriend to see him cuddling/ kissing a girl. When I asked what was going on, mind you I was crying, but not shouting, his reply: She’s more afraid than you.
Oh, well then.
My little brother, bless his tiny 16-year old self (his was sooo tiny) kicked guy in the shins as I went out into the storm to find a different place to take shelter. I was being a terrible big sister in hindsight, but I needed to get out of there. My sweet brother (I adore my brother. He is awesome and I am so happy we’ve become friends despite the eight year age difference and our parents trying to make us hate one another.) understood, and we drove back to his house, then I alone back to university.
It was a very bad idea.
I knew within thirty minutes of being alone I was going to do something bad to myself. But thanks to counseling, I also knew when to realize these times were coming, and so I called someone to just be in the same space as me. Telling them just enough so they knew I was a threat to myself if left in solitude. And then I cried. And I cried. And I cried. All my life until then I’d been ‘too something’ or ‘not enough something’. This time I wasn’t afraid enough. And, of course, that wasn’t the reason! The reason was that dream guy was not a dream guy, but a highly narcissistic arse who sought affirmation through physical contact. But I was only a senior in university, and anyone who has ever been one of those can tell you, university seniors don’t know anything.
So, in the five months until graduation I let my 3.8 fall to a 1.9 in the first three months. I just stopped going. I stopped doing the homework. I just stopped.
Then in month four, for some reason, I think I had my first adult moment. It just hit me that I could let this one incident ruin my heart and my future and it wouldn’t bother him or her or anyone else in the least, it would bother me for the rest of my life. And in the end it would be my fault. So I went to my professors and I had one-to-one meetings with each of them. I told them exactly what had happened, I cried a lot, I told them how ashamed I was, how much I hated everything, and most of all myself, but how much I wanted to fix things in the final month I had. They didn’t lie to me, they told me it’s be hard with all the work I had missed. But they also told me they were happy I’d told them. Every single professor said it took a lot of courage/ self-respect/ moxie (things I thought I had none of) to go see them and lay out all my mistakes and pain.
The next month was one of the busiest and hardest of my life, I’m sure my suite-mates thought I was working myself to death. Work kept me busy, it brought up my grades, and work made my brain focus on whatever it was it had to do for the assignment. And resumes, I sent out over one hundred resumes to companies, private schools, chain schools, and universities in Japan. Fuck it! What did I have to lose by leaving the country. Maybe a year away from all of this would realign whatever was helterskelter inside?
I got sixty-eight job offers. I chose the most remote, most in-nature, least likely anyone spoke English as my first job in Japan. I saw my final grades on the computer. I would graduate with a 3.7 (I’m still sad I was never able to reclaim that 0.1, but maybe that’s all he really got to take from me in the end. I can live with that.). And eleven days before we walked down the graduation aisle I was on a plane to Tokushima, Japan with 800 USD, and two suitcases stuffed with everything I thought I might need for a year. It was a one-year contract to teach English.
But as soon as I stepped outside onto Tokushima soil I knew, there was something here that hadn’t been in the United States, or I was someone different here I hadn’t been there. I wasn’t going back after one year, or two, or five. My tenth year will be June 13th, 2018.
Heartbreak happens. It’s up to you to figure out what it will take to put yourself back together.
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