I’ve been staring at this post for a long time; the final words not coming easily to me. This experience changed my life and yet I’ve also lived in fear of it for a year. I suppose I’ll just reflect on what I got out if.
After my experience in Japan I came home and changed my major and therefore direction in life towards something I’m passionate about: nutrition. I realized that if you’re not passionate about Japanese and Japanese culture, you are never going to become fluent in it. I was taking Japanese for the wrong reason. To please my ex-fiancé (who didn’t matter anymore!) and my dad (who above all wants me to be happy). Not for myself. Well now I’m working entirely on the life I want to have and the job I want to do and man it feels good!
Japan also really fueled my passion for learning how to cook. I was so limited on food there and kitchen appliances that it really made me realize how much I took for granted back at home. How I was wasting my kitchen by not fully utilizing it! I now have made food I’d never dreamed I could create with my own two hands before! Pizza dough, pies, delectable vegetables ect.
I also learned that sometimes I need to take my own wellbeing into my hands. Even if someone tells me they’ll have lunch for me, I bring my own in case they don’t understand what a vegetarian eats. I have snacks in my purse so I do not go hungry. It’s hard to imagine that there were days in Japan that my stomach was swollen from malnourishment. =/ I should have come more prepared.
Having just lost 42lbs and gotten off Weight Watcher’s I had a hard time learning to eat real food, not diet food. Japan really showed me that all things can be eaten in moderation. If I allowed myself to have a milk coffee everyday, that didn’t mean I was going to swell up to a size 12. If I told myself I could walk down to the Cake Shop everyday and have a sweet if I wanted, I could. Of course by giving myself this freedom I never felt like going to the Cake Shop!
Letting go of those restrictions really helped me get out of my “diet mentality”. For example, I would never eat white rice before Japan. My dad makes a pot every night but I swore it off due to it having “no nutritional value”. But you know what? White rice is damn tasty and I can eat it without feeling guilty that it’s not brown!
Eating and enjoying what I liked to eat felt so good. Just listen to your body and when you’re full, stop.
On that subject, I also had to let go of my Spartan mindset of “must workout everyday no matter how you feel”. Yes daily physical activity is great for your health, but when you’re hardly getting in adequate calories, going out of your way to workout is stupid. Especially when your body is your vehicle to get anywhere. I soon learned that my workout routine would have to wait for my return home and I let the guilt of missing a workout go.
In the face of hardship, I can survive. For the first month in Japan, I closed myself off in my room each night and hardly said anything all day. I completely cut myself off. One night when Julia was being extremely bitchy and crazy, Kayla and I realized we were both in the same boat and bonded. We would survive this together. And boy did it feel good to have a companion. I’ll always be grateful to Kayla for being my friend for those few months in lonely Japan.
I’ve always been on the fence about reproducing. I had such a bad childhood I never wanted to bring someone into the world to go through that. But at the same time we are all taught that a goal in life is to carry on your “self” through another. Japan and it’s tremendously adorable children helped me really come to terms with the fact that I am not a motherly person. I don’t like playing with children. I don’t want children. But that’s okay. Parenting isn’t for everyone and the world is full enough that me being childless won’t tip the scales. It’s a relief to finally have a stance on the matter.
When I left for Japan, I did so with somewhat of an ultimatum. Figure out what you want to do with your life so I can figure out if I am in it! Well, distance makes the heart grow fonder. Not even 24 hours after the plane departed I realized life is about having those around you who make you happy and my boyfriend, Chase, does make me happy. We might not see eye to eye on everything, but if I’m not with him everyday I notice. The distance really helped me realize that this relationship really was deeper than I thought.
Since starting this series I haven’t had one Japan nightmare. Peace, Japan. I hope I can return someday and write a happier story.