Things I Have Not Been Telling You
It’s not just adjusting to a new life, Friends. It is everything all at once. It is a new life, new country, new apartment, new job(s), new marriage and new definition of myself. Who is littlesarah, after all, without her friends? Without her family, or her coffee shop job, or her perfect apartment in the Avenues? Who am I in this Big World?
Better question: how am I coping? (Answer: not perfectly. Not as well as I had thought/hoped).
Historically, I have not dealt particularly well with Changes.Yet, as my mom so astutely pointed out, “I don’t know anyone who places themselves at the epicenter of change more than you.” (And I did appreciate that little earthquake reference).
So. What I’m trying to say is there are many reasons I’ve been distant, silent, cryptic, etc. But I’m back, and I want to let you know why I was gone and what’s been going on.
1 – I’ve been working. All over the place, really, doing everything from directing a play for international kids in a shrine in Shibuya, to singing and dancing my way through fun-time English kindergarten classes, to teaching Spanish at a prestigious private high school.
All this–and the seemingly never-ending interview cycle that lead me here–has meant many long commutes, which are a mixed bag. I’ve gotten to know a great deal of Tokyo this way, and I’ve also gotten extremely lost, been late, and had to swallow my pride (and my tears) more than once.
2 – I’ve been writing. Not here, obviously, but I’ve been cutting my teeth doing freelance work for some local English language publications, including a blog I wrote for Gaijinpot.com. More of this to come, and some of it may even pay!
In the meantime, I’m enjoying putting myself out there, pushing myself to take initiative, get the interview, and write like I mean it. I’m also pretty pleased to walk through Tokyo’s different neighborhoods, not as a lost interviewee, but as a journalist.
3 – I’ve been subbing. In addition to my regular jobs (if you can call them that), I’ve been picking up substitute teaching shifts at international schools all over Tokyo. I spent last week covering for a Special Ed teacher who had to go on unexpected early maternity leave. It was terrifying and daunting at first, something I’d never done and was positive that I was grossly under-qualified for.
But it turns out that not only am I great at working with kids who have special needs–ranging from Autism to Down’s Syndrome to ADHD–I really, really enjoy it. It’s satisfying in a way that other teaching never could be, for me, because the feedback is direct and instant, and I truly feel that I am making a difference, each day.
So I’ve put that into my back pocket, to be explored further in the future.
4 – I’ve been anxious. Let me rephrase that, for the sake of accuracy–I’ve been anxious as FUCK, waking up in a state of near panic, crying in the shower, and on the train, sending frantic and frightening emails to my loved ones back home, trembling like a leaf and lying wide-eyed awake at night, filled with worry, fear, and guilt.
A lot of it has to do with so much change in such a short time, and a lot of it has to do with my own hangups and sensitivities. If you’ve ever thought that I live some charmed, jet-setter’s life, exploring the world in a state of blissful adventure, then know that I have had to apologize more for insane, anxious-depressed behavior in the past 6 months than ever before.
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So that’s the reality of littlesarahBigWorld, Japanese Edition (so far). But things are looking up, friends. Honestly. With the help of those I love (above all my sweet, patient, and clever husband), I’m slowing down, appreciating what I have in life, and making the most of the opportunities that come with such a big change.
It was as if past Sarah had a hunch, so she shot an arrow into the future, into a far away time and place, where things would be better. But first I had to zipline through months of swirling intensity, to catch up to the present, where the future life that my past self envisioned for me was waiting, calmly.
I guess what I’m trying to say is: I’m no good at time travel. So it’s a relief that I’m finally living in the present.