“There is only one you for all time. Fearlessly be yourself.”
– Anthony Rapp
I have currently accumulated 27 rough drafts (28, if I include this one) – all-the-while publishing zero entries over the course of the past year. Suffice it to say, I’ve been trying to keep up with blogging, but with the balance of work, play, and the gym – it’s hard to find much time these days. Even though I have free periods, those times are often spent planning classes, and when that’s not the case, they’re spent planning for my (self-initiated) 英会話 (English conversation) class. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being busy, but I think my stress levels are on the rise because of my inability to vent through blogging. I’ve been writing/keeping a journal ever-since I was in elementary school, so it’s somewhat of a disappointment when I can’t find the time to complete even one, simple entry.
In other news, I’ve also been thinking about creating a short music video with photos that I’ve managed to accumulate during my time in Japan so-far. I’d really like to get that project off the ground soon, but we’ll see if time will allow me to at-least start it up in the near future.
It’s kind of hard for me to believe that we are well-past the halfway point of 2017 already, and I didn’t even get the chance to reflect on the previous year. In order to remedy this, I found 7 simple, reflective questions that might help bring all of my readers and followers up-to-date about my life over the course of the past year. (My apologies in advance in case some of my answers sound a bit cryptic).
- If the last year were a movie of your life, what would the genre be? Drama, romance, adventure, comedy, tragedy, or a combination?
- As much as I’d rather not like to admit it, and despite the fact that there were a lot of high points, I’m sad to say that it might have played out a bit more like a drama. I’d go further into detail about it, but I figure that I should let the past be the past and stop dwelling on things that I can’t really change or control.Hakuna Matata, right?
- What were the two or three major themes that kept recurring?
- Change: There was a lot of change that happened last year. Some were welcomed and some weren’t, but in the end, I believe it all worked out for the best, in the end.
- Growth: I firmly believe that if you always keep yourself in your comfort zone, growth becomes limited and/or non-existent. I think that it’s because of this way of thinking that I always do my best to stay out of my comfort zone – despite having feelings of insecurity and vulnerability that comes with this decision, from time to time.
- What did you accomplish this past year that you are the most proud of?
- Being called into my Board of Education’s Superintendent’s office and being told that he was pleased by the recent phone calls he was getting from principles and even from the prefectural Board of Education about my recent English classes.
- I was able to return home for a week, last summer, and attend a very close relative’s wedding. I also got to see some of my closest friends and family members, after 2 years of living away in Japan. Although I would consider going home more frequently, I think that would also make it more difficult for me to continue staying in Japan on my own (much like the homesickness that hit while I lived on Okinawa for my first 2 years in the Marine Corps).
- My local government has recently been asking me what I’ll be doing after my five years on the JET program has run its course, and it seems as though they are hinting towards retaining me once my first five years are complete. This has been mentioned by my superintendent, the previous vice-director, my previous supervisor, and more-recently, my current supervisor. I guess we’ll see what the future holds when that time comes.
- Most recently, I have managed to implement some changes at our elementary school levels which provide my schools’ homeroom teachers the chance and opportunity to plan and prepare English lessons for our students as the designated T1, with me as their support. It still has a few hiccups, but I’ve come to notice much more confidence in my fellow teachers’ English-teaching ability, as well as the overall interest of our students. I was fearful that this would have turned out to be a disaster, but I’m very glad that my principals listened to me and allowed me to implement these changes without too much of a resistance.
- What do you feel you should have been acknowledged for but weren’t?
- Having the moral courage to disagree with others despite my dislike of confrontation.
- Speaking from my heart and my mind despite opposition and/or tension on ‘sensitive’ topics such as racism and-the-like in America (and abroad).
- Starting up my own eikaiwa class for one of my villages despite my already-tight, weekly schedule.
- Re-contracting for my fourth year on JET.
- I don’t know when it started happening, but I have recently found myself thinking in Japanese, instead of thinking in English. Not only this, but I’ve even had dreams where my friends and I were having conversations in Japanese (despite the fact that in real life, some of these friends don’t speak any Japanese). I remember when my Japanese teacher asked us whether it had happened to us before, while I was a college student, but at the time it hadn’t and I wondered if it would ever happen to me, someday. Suffice it to say, I’m quite ecstatic that I’ve realized that it has.
- What disappointments or regrets did you experience this past year?
- Despite joining my gym almost 2 years ago, I’m disappointed in myself for not going more frequently. (Even though the 30-45 minute one-way commute, along with the monthly membership cost of ~$120, is enough to detour most people) I go there almost everyday now, but I feel as though I wasted too much time by not attending.
- Additionally, I recently learned that I can burn more calories by doing cardio after my weightlifting routine, instead of doing it before. Regardless, however, lesson learned! :)
- In my three years living in Japan, I’ve never taken the time to complain and/or comment about some of the negative aspects of my job to anyone, but thankfully, I was recently able to vent about some problems I was having at one of my schools with my supervisor; and that has helped me out a lot.
- I stayed home too many weekends due to adequate lesson planning, so I regret not going sightseeing more than I have, so far.
- I also regret not remaining in better contact via social media, etc… with some of my closest friends and family members back home.
- What was missing from last year as you look back?
- I didn’t travel enough last year, so I think that’s why I’m trying to make up for it, this year. I’m not saying that I didn’t leave Nara, but I definitely didn’t travel to many new places outside of the big cities that I often frequent and/or travel to.
- What were the major life-lessons you learned this past year?
- Be a good person, but don’t waste your time on someone who needs you to prove it.
- Surround yourself with people who look and think differently than yourself.
- Focus on the people that truly matter.
- Grow through what you go through.
- Get out and meet new people.
- Lessons I didn’t know I knew, from snotm.com (Stuff No One Told Me):
- “Someday you will miss today.”
- “Now is the best time to be happy.”
- “Challenge yourself a little bit every day.”
- “Things that are hard to say are usually the most important.”
- “People who only call you when they need something aren’t really your friends.”
Well, that’s all I have to write about for now, but I want to sincerely thank you very much for taking the time to read my first completed blog entry in over a year! I hope to go back and complete some of the other rough drafts I’ve managed to accumulate in the near-future, but as for now, I think this one will do. Hopefully, we can all enjoy what’s left of this 2017 calendar year (as well as sneak in a few adventures here-and-there, whenever possible. Hahah).