Tag Archives: happiness

Possessive Over Unique Japan

The Japanese keep you an outsider. The other foreigners are competitive and are out to prove they know more than you. The world outside of Japan is looking on with jealousy and amazement because they either worship Japan or thinks it’s batshit crazy.

Here’s a shocker: Japan is no more unique than any other country.

People act like Japan is some mysterious, enigmatic country, usually citing the 200-year period of isolation as the cause, but the fact is different countries have different people and different practices. All nations are the same in their differences. If you think Japan is unique or crazy-weird, that makes me want to question how much of the world you’ve seen.

Once Japan is brought up in conversation, online or in person, people begin to not-so-subtly stake their claim on the country in one way or another. I think the one expats use the most is “So, how long have you been here?” Whoever answers with the larger number is wordlessly deemed superior. And beware: if your answer is one year or less, you will be laughed onto the next plane with the other tourists, students, and JET teachers.

"Oh, you've been to Japan, huh?"

“Oh, you’ve been to Japan, huh?”

The one I hear most from people outside of Japan is “Oh, I’m a big fan of Japan.” I hear it every day, but I have no idea in what way these people are a fan. How can you be a fan of an entire country? Think about it — when was the last time you heard someone say that about another country, outside of referring to sports teams?

When people say they’re a big fan of Japan, I think it’s like saying “I find Japan interesting,” but the difference is it goes a step further. They’re also implying they know a thing or two about Japan, enough to be a fan. But why people need to let others know how knowledgeable of Japan they are, I truly don’t know. Is it to seem unique or interesting to other people? To feel superior over mainstream culture?

"That's one of the main reasons why I love this book, because we got to visit Japan, and I love Japan."

“That’s one of the main reasons why I love this book, because we got to visit Japan, and I love Japan.”

Regardless of the reason, and taking this to a personal level, I’m tired of having to struggle against other foreigners, Japanese people, and the world outside. I don’t want to be Japanese. I don’t want to be a foreigner in Japan. I just want to be with my husband. It just so happens that he’s Japanese and works in Japan and I live with him.

I haven’t been able to find anyone else in a similar situation to mine. I didn’t move to Japan with a Japan-centric goal in mind. Yet, unlike the other wives who followed their husbands here, I’m not completely disconnected from Japan. I got my degree studying Japanese, and I had inklings to have a career here at one time. I don’t want to be here, and yet I do.

I feel like I’m playing three simultaneous games of tug-of-war with no one else on my side helping me pull.

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Choo Choo, All Aboard!

I’m not sure what just happened, but after a week of feeling happy, positive, and motivated, including this morning, I had a miniature meltdown.

It came so suddenly and hit me hard like a speeding train. I felt so hopeless and couldn’t stop crying. I felt alone because I barely saw my husband this week and was alone all day despite the fact that it’s Saturday, because my husband had a work event. I felt angry at my husband for leaving me alone. I felt overwhelmed with anxiety about the work week starting again on Monday, despite the fact that I’m currently working only two days a week. And I felt like trying to write was pointless, that I’ll never get better, even though I spent all morning making progress and feeling good about my story.

This meltdown is technically still happening. I’ve managed to stop crying and pull myself away from the couch, but it feels like anything might start me crying again if I’m not careful. I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m trying to reason my way out of it, because there’s no reason I should feel this way.

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October 5, 2013 · 5:31 pm

Depression and Clarity

English: Silhouette of cranes and buildings, B...

Beijing, China. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Three months ago, I realized my hearing had suddenly gotten worse. I had to keep the TV at a higher volume, and my husband needed to repeat everything he said, which annoyed both of us. After visiting a specialist, it was decided my ears were fine. But I knew something was wrong since my hearing had decreased so suddenly, so I turned to the internet and found the cause was probably my new antidepressants.

At that time, my next appointment with my doctor was only a month away, so I didn’t want to go through hassle of trying to go in sooner. But I didn’t want to deal with hearing loss anymore since I thought I knew the cause. So, I did what everyone knows not to do, and I started to cut my dosage.

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Losing Interest in Japan as an Expat

YokohamaThe more time I spend in Japan, the less I’m here for my own ambitions and the more I’m here because this is where my husband is rooted.

Whenever someone finds out I majored in Asian Studies in college, they say, “So you could become an English teacher?” Definitely not! (Those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter might not know that I teach English and very much dislike it.)

When I chose to study about Asia–specifically Japan–it was not with a post-graduation career goal in mind. You see, growing up, I learned nothing about Asia. Then in college I suddenly had so much information about Asia available to me. My boyfriend (now husband) was Japanese, and all my friends were studying Japanese, and there was an entire academic department dedicated to Asia. It was new and exciting intellectual territory, and I wanted to learn everything. I didn’t have an interest in using my future degree to become a translator or an international consultant in a large company. I just wanted to explore.

Fast forward to now. Continue reading

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Filed under Japan, Personal