So here is the thing, when I decided I would apply to teach in Japan I kept it to myself. I only told the people I asked to write my recommendations. I didn’t tell my family, I didn’t tell my best friends, I kept it all to myself. Not knowing what would happen next, when I got an interview, I only told one more person that I had applied because I happened to have lunch with him afterwards. I instead told my best friends and family that I was applying for a job in Miami; again, not knowing what would happen next. When I was offered the position I only told one more person, my friend who happened to be there when I got the phone call. That was at the end of March in 2015. I wouldn’t tell my family until the end of April. And I wouldn’t tell my best friend until May. I would finally tell my boss in June, and then I left at the end of July.
Why was I so scared to tell the people I love the most and love me the most about my plans? About my next adventure? It wasn’t because they don’t support me and my crazy ways, the root of the fear was my fear of being authentically me. See, I have been blessed with a family that loves me fiercely, and anyone who has a family like that knows that there are pressures that come with that love. There are expectations that come from that love. Yes, I have always been an independent person, but I have always had a tremendous support system as well. I lived with my parents until I left for Japan, which could be considered odd for a 30 something, but it is just the way my family is. Same with my best friend, having been friends for over 25 years she was my main pillar of support for a very long time. And this means that over the years these people have ideas of who you are, what you want, and what you are capable of. How do you tell them, they are wrong? How do you finally say what is in your heart?
Well, it definitely wasn’t easy. I actually was pretty lousy at breaking the news. And even though eventually I got the support I knew they would give me, I got some push back originally. Some opinions were that Japan was a distraction; that I was running away. I was going off course in a sense. But that is the thing; I was choosing my own adventure. I was starting to be the most authentic version of me yet.
Once I moved to Japan, a strange thing happened. I had to deal with being authentic. Without the background noise of my support system, I could hear my own opinions, what I really want and wanted from life. And as much as I was receiving oppression from being outwardly authentic, inwardly I was more me than I had ever been. I might not have been able to wear my flashy tight Miami style clothes in rural Japan, but that cage only focused the energy inward. It wasn’t all pleasant, as confronting your own truths never are. Realizing you’re in love with someone 8,000 miles away is not an easy truth to swallow. Neither is realizing you don’t want the things you have said you wanted for years. Realization is one thing, and letting go is something completely different. My first year in Japan was this internal struggle of who I was pretending to be, and who I am. And it took about 8 months until I just surrendered and let things just be. That is when I was able to start to be more authentic outwardly too. This also meant that people I love believe me to be not being authentic, that I am being someone I am not, which is just not true.
Being authentic on the outside was more than just changing my clothes or hair, my hobbies, or even how my body transformed. It has mostly been about communication. Over the past month, I have come to realize I suck at communicating. I am somewhat at a loss when I need to express my opinions or feelings in a coherent and comprehensible manner to ANYONE other than myself. So, for my entire life I had either kept all that stuff on the inside or told people what they wanted to hear. But over this past year, I have been voicing my thoughts, feelings, and opinions...the only problem has been I really don’t know how to. I don’t know how to authentically convey myself through words, so things get messy. And the thing is I am okay with that. Being authentic is a process, at least for me, and at least now I am trying. I am not scared anymore to hurt the ones I love with what is in my heart and mind, because ultimately by keeping them in I was hurting everyone.
I am much more willing to share my plans for the future than I have ever been, with a couple exceptions. I don’t really know what I was looking for when I moved to Japan, but I am happy that what I found was me. And now it is time to choose the next adventure, in the most authentically me way possible...