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ちょっと怖い。A Little Scary.

January 26, 2010

I looked at my calendar last night and realized I have less than two months before I’ll be in Japan.
Then I realized that I had even less than that here in my little, old college town. ((I’m going back to PA to say goodbye to my family before I leave for Japan.))

I was quite surprised, to say the very least.

I realized that I needed to get a jump on packing. I hate the process of moving ((traveling is fun, but moving into another place to live is not fun in my opinion)). So I got a lot of boxes, pulled out my suitcases and trunks, and decided to plunge ahead.

I opened the door to my bedroom, took one look around and began having that deep, sobbing, emotional breathing that happens right before you start to cry. I was stunned by my reaction. I never expected to be flooded with such a strong wave of emotion. It has taken me a few days to process all of this. The whole of my adult life has been wrapped up around this place and its people. I haven’t lived anywhere else for 5 1/2 years! All my belongings are in that bedroom. Every drop of familiarity I have in the world is in this one little place. And I was surprised to hear this little tiny voice bellowing 行かないで! Don’t go!

Going to teach in Japan is what I’ve been working towards for four years now. This is what I have studied and breathed and loved. I’m definitely going, and I truly want to. I just wasn’t giving any credit to how special my time here and my memories have been. The truth of the matter is: I’m going to miss my friends.

That little bit of truth is a gnawing ache in the back of my mind.
I am terribly shy, and get extremely quiet in a crowd of people. Sure I can smile and be friendly, but making friends is different. At night, as I lay in bed, my head is reeling with whispers.
What if I’m a bad teacher?
What if no one likes me?
What if I can’t get better at Japanese?
What if I fail?

I’m not a quitter. I’ve always been stubborn and independent as much as possible. But this is a little scary to be sure.

I’m not getting cold feet. I’m still so excited, and quite certain that this is the right path for me. I’m not doubting myself, Interac, or anything else. I think it’s very true that there is nothing to fear but fear itself. So I’m calling fear out, acknowledging it, turning the light on, and by so doing, realizing there is nothing for me to really be scared about.
But nostalgia is hitting close … and I’ll probably cry at least once before this is over.

I would appreciate your support. ♥

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 27, 2010 3:04 am

    What if I’m a bad teacher?
    -IMPOSSIBLE! The kids will have a good time just because you are foreign!

    What if no one likes me?
    -Japanese people are SUPER kind… and the kids/teachers are more so.

    What if I can’t get better at Japanese?
    -If I can improve. Anyone can!

    What if I fail?
    -Only possible if you actually miss your flight

  2. January 27, 2010 6:17 am

    ^_^ arigatou ne!
    You’re really kind~~!~
    haha I’m just feeling jittery… I guess that’s pretty normal, ne?

  3. Terry Jester, Jr. permalink
    January 28, 2010 4:32 pm

    Thank you for sharing this insight Jennifer! Believe me when I say your questions are valid. すみません。しつれが! But I like to draw things together with analogies. I remember telling the interviewer that I believed my life patterned that of Bilbo Baggins. And while I was not completely able to divulge in this at the time of my interview, perhaps my words may come as a comfort to you.

    Bilbo was frightened. Make no mistakes, when thirteen dwarves marched into his hobbit hole and spout tales of grand adventure and danger. Bilbo hid in the other room. Why should he leave? This was his home (Even Frodo took several months wandering the shire before he left because he found value in it the moment he was told to leave–but please don’t wait the 5 years or more he waited!)!

    But Bilbo covered his fears with courage. Here he was being employed as a thief (much as we have been billed as English teachers). It is all new to us, and Bilbo was put into situations (three trolls) to test the merits of his courage, not the skill of a thief (he had none!).

    My advice to you is to hold on to that courage. You asked yourself: What if I’m a bad teacher? I too have had those thoughts, and Andy above is correct (as he is with all his answers). If you are anything like me, you’ve probably been praying for the opportunity to prove yourself. I will not lie to you we embark on a journey of self-discovery. But one of the things is, you and I and the rest of the new ALTs don’t have to go it alone. I was a bit dismayed that there wasn’t any concrete support network other than the ones we build for ourselves. So let this be the first spindle of thread in a hopefully extravagant network.

    You also asked yourself (bit long winded, aren’t I?–aspiring author and guilty as charged!) What if nobody likes me? To this I say, have trust. One of the pitfalls of Bilbo was that he did not have trust in the ones around him until very late. Now make no mistakes, trust is earned, but it is also granted for a generous heart, which from your post I have determined if nothing else, you have heart.

    What if I can’t get better at Japanese? Well something tells me that here we are very different, my Genki book is probably covered in dust and still has its binding intact. But I will say this, diligence is the path to any sort of success. People say Practice makes perfect, but a diligent person is practicing towards a goal, possibly why I haven’t moved forward in my own ability. So to this I say, strive to be diligent!

    What if i fail? You know, I studied at a Bible College and leadership is one of those things that is constantly covered. One leader that stands out in my mind is Moses (though believe me, I am not preaching to you so I mean no ill offense in what I say, only to illustrate how your feelings are warranted). Moses at the burning bush when in conversation with God came up with every humbling comment as to why he was not suited to the task. “I am not worthy,” “This task is better suited to someone with these skills (leading the Israelites–or for us teaching English!)” but for every remark he made, he was assured by God that he had not made any mistakes. And to this question, I say, have peace.

    There you have it, my thoughts on your blog and hopefully some advice that I (at 23) never believed I’d be giving. I will pray for you indeed Jennifer.

    Firstly, for your courage that above all else–skill and the like–that you have the courage to do what you love, and know that your family and friends aren’t severing from your life, only giving you their love as you make this tremendous move.

    Second I will pray for your trust. One of the quickest ways to culture shock is lingering on this question, “What if nobody likes me?”. It all comes full circle to your expectations. If you expect everyone to be all marshmellows and sunshiny goodness, then when someone doesn’t care for you it will feel like the consistency of a mack truck running you over. If you have such a low expectation that nobody will like you, then you will be guarded, and may misinterpret genuine feelings of others friendliness. The best way to combat this is to be open. The only expectation you should have is from the facts that you know “I am teaching. I love Japan. I love the Japanese culture.” Definitely not a mantra, but good to remind yourself nonetheless.

    Third I will pray that you are diligent for the reasons I stated above.

    And lastly, I will pray for peace. Empty your fears as they will sow seeds of doubt. You said it yourself, you are strong willed (stubbon) and independent. But I also know you can be your own worst enemy (thank you Pink for reminding us haha). Ready yourself, for you are embarking on a grand journey the likes of which only Bilbo Baggins could account for. And while there are no dragons, trolls, mountain giants or armies of goblins. There are pitfalls nonetheless. But as I said, remember–YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

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