I was debating for a bit, if I should be publishing this, mostly because I didn’t want to overly dramatise moving abroad, and partly because I didn’t want to jinx what could possibly by the biggest life decision I’ve made in my entire life, all 30 years of it.
As I write this, less than 24 hours remain until I am due to fly to Japan to begin a new life, first as a language student for a year, and hopefully, a full-time employee after.
Japan has always fascinated me — it is a country of co-existing contrasts; of old and new; innovation and backwards bureaucracy; trendsetters and stewards of ancient traditions; there seems to be no middle ground, and Japan swings wildly from one extreme to another, like pachinko balls bouncing frenziedly around their enclosed contraptions.
Growing up, I always saw moving abroad as an unrealistic endeavour, so the notion remained at the back of my mind while years passed me by. Where I’m from, not many people tend to leave our shores, so I begrudgingly accepted what seemed to me at that time to be my lot in life. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the desire to move away; I just didn’t know how I could ever do it.
Four years ago, it finally dawned on me that I was an adult capable of taking the steps needed to realise my dreams, and I’d grown to be quite stubborn — when I see an opportunity, however improbable, I tend to pursue it relentlessly until the very end, and so I did. That door closed abruptly a few months later, and I found myself biding time once again. It became increasingly difficult to find semblances of positivity in an environment where I never really felt like I’d belonged in, flanked by peers who seemed to be thriving just fine living the sort of successful lives that our education system tries to peddle to us, the sort of life that I just struggled to find value in.
When another opportunity opened up towards the end of 2020, as a student rather than an English teacher, we were already in the thick of COVID-19, which made travelling impossible. The past year and a half represented one of the most vulnerable periods of my life, in which I was forced to sit tight and entrust my future in the hands of a higher power — one day, then another, and another, not knowing what awaited me at every turn. I prefer being in charge, of knowing how things would pan out; even if they went slightly off course. That power was stripped from me, and I had to embrace living in the now and not let the unknown fray my nerves.
On hindsight, it was a fitting lesson as Japan looms over the horizon. I haven’t got a clue what to expect, living all by myself in a foreign country with a completely different way of life, speaking a language I’m scarcely passable in, but my excitement far outshines my trepidations. This is the reset I’ve been yearning for; a chance at a new life, with new opportunities; new places to explore; new experiences to be had — the novelty wears off eventually, but it’s not every day you feel a surge of hope that renews your zeal for life. I’ve lost that; writing; even reading became a chore. Will this momentum last? Time will tell. All I know is that it’s finally time to close one chapter of my life, all 30 years of it. I imagined myself writing this some months ago, an elaborate story on my life leading up to this very moment, but goodbyes are best left short and sweet, and that’s exactly how this page will be turned.
I have a hunch that Chapter Two will be a time of searching, finding, and moulding myself. I’d like to think that how this part of my story unfolds is entirely up to me to write, but more often than not, plot twists are unplanned and sudden. In all honesty, I hardly write with a plan; instead, I go with the flow, just like what I’m doing now. Hitting 30 was the rude awakening I needed, a timely reminder that life is fleeting and my days are unpredictably numbered. If there’s one thing I’d like to keep consistent as I move from one stage of life to another, it is the stubborn relentlessness to pursue even the slimmest of margins, and to never stop fighting for the life I want to build.
Just a few days ago, I was sweating over the little details that I was afraid I’d miss or go wrong; after all, Murphy’s Law has always been quite fond of me. Like the past 30 years, those too have passed, and I find myself breathing a little easier; a little lighter. It’s funny how I’m only paying attention to the breaths I take now. Perhaps they’re a little sweeter now, and I can almost catch a hint of Japan’s cool, sakura-kissed spring air. Is this how it feels to finally be free and hopeful? As I finally draw to a close, the life I’ve always known, I’d like to think that it is.
See you soon.