Our Life Track. (Part II)

(…continued from before)

Well I was going to continue my previous post with what consoling and self-inspiring thoughts I had come up with before publishing, but it seems that the friends who read Part I took care of that for me with their comments. So thank you all for the kind words.

I was, in fact, already thinking I was doing okay. More than okay, actually. As it turned out, the very day after I wrote Part I, I received an unconditional offer of placement at the school I applied to–I’m going to England!!! I’m still a bit stressed out with having a cough, having to file US taxes while abroad, and now having to apply for a visa to study in the UK as well as figure out how I’m going to pay for grad school. But that’s okay. I can make this work. If I could leave a fiancé and two low-pay, no-future part-time jobs to come to Japan where I would effectively become illiterate and find my career only to apply to graduate school in the UK and get in, then I can do anything. Right? I know that was a terribly written sentence–I run out of breath just reading it–but that’s what the last year has felt like for me.

My cinzano-drinking friend knows we’re doing well. “We’re ahead of the game,” she said to me. I agreed with the sincere, if a tad clichéd, statement. Then I thought about it and retracted my agreement. We’re ahead, for sure, but there is no game. We shouldn’t think of it in terms of a game that everyone is playing, because then we would only compare ourselves to all the other players, would we not? We’re ahead for ourselves. I am doing alright for myself.

If I had stayed in California and gotten married, my life would have stopped there. I am certain of it. It would have taken a total overhaul 20 years down the pike to get myself happy and inspired again. Don’t get me wrong. He was a good guy, but that’s not the life I was meant to live and I gradually knew that. Now, I am where I’m supposed to be: going somewhere. I got here by listening to my gut. It was my gut that told me to go to Japan, even though I was engaged. It was my gut that told me I’d found my profession. It was my gut that told me to go to school in the UK. Like I said, I only applied to one school: the one I wanted more than any other school. And I got it. So for now, all I can do is keep listening and keep going. When my gut tells me I’ve found the right job or the right person or the right location, I’ll know I can rely on that. It hasn’t failed me yet.

To those lost, confused, or uninspired, I say listen to your gut. Even if it’s not saying anything now, it will at some point. Just keep going and your gut will help you figure things out.

Our Life Track. (Part I)

A little over a month ago, I submitted an application to a graduate program in England to get my Masters in education. I only applied to one school because this is really the only program I want to go to. And I suppose it’s not the end of the world if I don’t get into grad school right. this. second. It did feel that way the first time I applied to college, what with my parents not giving me much of a choice and all. But this time around, it’s my choice to go to grad school if I want and when I want. Anyway, since I applied to just the one school, I’ve been feeling a lot of pressure and anxiety about whether I’ll get in or not. And I know I’m doing this to myself. No one else seems to be as concerned about this as I am. Not even my parents.

I know I’m not alone in my struggle to better my future, though, because a good friend and coworker of mine here in Japan is feeling the same urge I feel to get a move on. We’re both in our mid-twenties, we’re both pretty smart kids, and we have open minds and a taste for adventure. We’ve also both discussed how we feel envious of our friends back in the States who are already working jobs with great pay, or they’re married with kids, or they’re living in New York like she and I both want to someday…. Did I miss something? Did I get off track? How come they already get to be where I want to be right now? Why am I not there?

Is this what they call the quarter life crisis?

I’m nearing 25, I have no money, I work at a company with hardly any in-house mobility, and I get easily frustrated and many times feel like an idiot because I live in a country where I can barely speak the language and most definitely can’t read anything. I also know I won’t meet my future life partner while I’m here. My parents had already been married for 4 years and were supporting each other by the time they were my age. My brothers were supporting themselves too by 25. What’s my problem?

Is it really fair to compare myself to them? Or to anyone?

I told my friend, a few evenings ago while drinking cinzanos and sharing her balcony, that even though it seems like those other people we know are so much further ahead than us, it’s not really the case. I tried to justify it by the fact that we are in Japan. Not many of them would be willing to come here and live like this. Because let me tell you: it ain’t easy. I mean, yes, we can afford to go out and have fun and experience a million new things, but gaining experience like this takes its toll on you. Frustration, illiteracy, confusion, translation, isolation, cabin fever, body size. Heaven forbid you get sick in Japan. Which is what I am right now. Again. I’ve never learned so much about home remedies on the internet in my life. I digress.

(to be continued…)

Real and Unreal

A spider just ran across my bed. Scared the living daylights out of me, considering it was about eight inches away from my face and it was (a) not a daddy-long-legs and (b) nothing I recognized. I managed to smush it with a flip-flop before it crawled into my messy bedspread. (Apologies to all who dare not kill another living creature, but I have no problem killing certain bugs. Especially spiders that may or may not be poisonous. I’m not going to take that risk.) Anyway, I keep feeling an invisible spider running across my foot or up my arm now.

I had a dream a few nights ago about a small black spider (nothing like the one I killed tonight) that bit my hand right between my knuckles. Not only did it bite me, but it got stuck in my skin. I didn’t dare pull it out lest I pull off a couple legs and leave the body to become embedded in my hand. A day or two later, it finally came out but it left a nice little red bulge in my hand that was sore. I flexed and squeezed my hand so as to force out whatever was in this bulge and out started popping these small white eggs that looked and felt like tapioca. I know, you’ll never be able to eat tapioca again–sorry. So when I finally woke up, I checked my hand to make sure I hadn’t actually been bitten and I was safe. But it did feel funny right at the spot where the spider had bitten me in my dream.

Now, I’ll admit that I fancy the art of dream interpretation. According to an online dream dictionary, the spider is a symbol of female authority and to dream of a spider biting you is representative of some large issue that you must make a tough decision about. It does not, however, say anything about a spider laying eggs. Do spiders even actually do that? I mean, in your skin? I’m not even sure I want to know the answer to that.

The point is, I had a disconcerting dream about a spider and a similarly disconcerting spider actually come right at me, not a week later. I do have pressing issues I need to make some tough decisions about. So, have I just been reading too much Murakami lately? Or is there a real …or unreal… issue going on here?

It is events such as these that make me question the difference between reality and what I only think is not real. I believe it was Zhuang Zi () who once had a dream he was a butterfly and when he awoke, he didn’t know if he was a man dreaming he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was a man. Truly, how do you really know the difference? I do believe the life I’m living here where the spider ran across my bed tonight is actually the real thing. But it’s fun to speculate. I guess it gives us all something to do when we’re tired of the harshness and (dare I say it?) reality of life. Then again, you could say that’s why I’m writing right now as well.