First Published, 12th March, 2015
Being in Japan I am experiencing challenges on a daily basis, some tiny and some a bit less tiny. It’s been a pretty steep learning curve and I know it will continue to be. Everything is so different and I am so far out of my comfort zone. I’ve had a lot of support from the people around me, which I realise has been positive and negative. Having someone to depend on means I do less for myself, because I don’t have to. I think there are things that I can’t do on my own, so I don’t.
Ryan has been in Amsterdam for the past 8 days, and this is the first time since I’ve been in Japan where the person who felt like my main source of support hasn’t been here. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly worried before he left. But he got on a plane and I had two choices… To flail in despair over a situation I couldn’t control, or to figure out what to do each day to achieve everything I needed to.
When a situation arises and my attempt to deal with it fails, or I can’t figure out what to do, I am very quick to either freak out or just say screw it. That ability to stop, breathe and logically think about a different approach is something I lack. What happens next is the chaotic thoughts that make no sense start running around and I can’t step back from the situation to reassess. It isn’t helpful or productive. I decided I really couldn’t afford to let this happen.
Trying to take things one step at a time and break my days up into different tasks made things a little bit easier. I imagined it like eating pie. You take bites and you chew your food, you don’t shove the whole thing in your mouth in one go and swallow. You would probably choke. As soon as I started looking at everything I had to do for the whole week it felt like too much. I do this all the time. I am focussing on what’s in the future and hasn’t even happened yet. I get overwhelmed, I can’t see past how I feel at the time, and figuring out a solution? Well yeah, but no it doesn’t happen. So in this situation I had to find a way to stop myself choking.
I had to make all my own choices this week with slightly less guidance, and discovered I can actually trust myself to decide what I want and what is best for me. I did things I probably wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t been in this situation. I stopped questioning everything and started doing. No one to translate to my massage therapist? Ok I just need to learn basic phrases to be able to say which part of my body hurts. I want to get out of the city so I will go walk up a mountain. I don’t know how to get there? Get on the train and figure it out. I can always ask some nice Japanese person if I get lost. Walk everywhere, see more, try and talk more. Learn more.
It’s easy to hold yourself back by obsessing over the past, or push yourself too much by chasing after the future. This is the when we miss things. I didn’t want to spend 8 days missing everything that was happening because I was too afraid to do anything. And as a result a lot has changed in a short space of time. Things that were scaring the s*** out of me don’t scare me anymore. Situations that I thought were complicated turned out to be pretty simple. Most importantly I’ve learnt there is always a solution to any problem, and I don’t always need someone else to help me figure it out. If the first attempt doesn’t work you try again. There is ALWAYS a solution.
Support… I have a lot more of that than I realised from the rest of my family here. I still want that support and I still need support and guidance from Ryan, but now I am also learning how to support myself. I won’t always get it right and there are still a lot of creases that need ironing out. But looking at my goals for self-development, I am putting this one fairly high on my priority list. No one’s going to draw me a map. I have figure out how to walk my own path.