First Published, 26th January, 2015
I am always searching for what’s coming next, for the things that will motivate me and most importantly make me happy. Feeling restless but not knowing where I am supposed to go next creates an uncomfortable disconnection between myself and what’s going on around me.
I’m never complacent because I always feel like there’s more, like I can do better, work harder, focus on something new. But I’d got slightly lost. And then I was presented with an opportunity that would change everything. This opportunity was Japan.
Waiting to move to another country is completely surreal. I thought the real challenge would be once I was in Japan, and I was facing a new city, a new culture, a new language, a new way of life. But the challenge began the day I booked my plane ticket.
I wasn’t in Japan yet, but I no longer felt part of England. In my head I wasn’t there anymore but I had two months of waiting. Things that had always mattered became less and less important. Like my belongings. When you have to reduce your life down to as little as possible you realise how much you actually don’t need. Living out of a suitcase when you go away travelling is one thing. But when you don’t want to leave anything behind it either has to go with you or it has to go. I was keeping things for no reason, or for reasons that I needed to let go of. So I sold things, threw things out, and said goodbye to what I had collected and built up throughout my life.
I would sit on the bus as I travelled around Cambridge, and watch people getting on and off, thinking this isn’t my home, I’m not supposed to be here. Looking out of the window, memorising and absorbing my surroundings, feeling even more out of place and unsettled. Every bit of concrete was cold and unwelcoming. I couldn’t concentrate or focus on anything. Trying to zone out with a film didn’t work, I would find my mind wondering. I couldn’t read either, because the words went in and just fell back out.
I was able to train and this was about the only thing that kept me feeling normal. But even then it was just creating physical sensations to get my brains attention and distract myself, rather than enjoying the “process”. There was no process. I walked in and I moved however I wanted and then left.
For the last two weeks before I left I felt like I had a permanent hangover. I had a head fog that wouldn’t evaporate. My sleep was erratic, my body did it’s own thing and when I woke up it never felt like I had slept. Everything slowed down and I had less and less energy to the point of barely being able to train. I struggled to stay present. I would go from tremendous excitement to feeling absolutely terrified, like a pendulum, and I could never predict how I was going to feel from one second to the next.
When I told people I was leaving I was asked the same questions. Have you ever been to Japan? But you don’t speak the language? What if you don’t like it? Well no, and I will learn it and so what if I don’t like it? I won’t know until I go and so really that’s just a stupid question. The reasons why I’m going are enough for me to want to stay, regardless of how I feel about Japan as a country.
Despite the constant up and down, I never once for a second felt like I shouldn’t go. When you want to change your life you have to be 100% secure in your choices, regardless of the outcome. There will always be doubts and uncertainty but know that if it’s the right thing for you that’s what matters. We are never going to know what will happen next and that stops too many people from doing what they really want. From doing what makes their heart sing. Well I want my heart to sing.
“You are a unique, beautiful snowflake, and you should be happy with who you are right now. But EVERYONE is capable of more. Taking charge of your life and constantly improving defines who you are as a man or woman. Wherever you start your day, finish it a little better.” Max Shank – The Ultimate Guide to Athleticism
I began one day in England. I finished 16 hours later in Japan. When you end your day, where do you want to be?