I've been on a slight downer lately. I know why. The novelty of living in Japan has worn off. I feel settled and I find my impressions of what happens around me to be entirely different to what they were at first. This isn't such a big deal. I've never had a job this long, and the flakey part in me which usually would expect a change by this point is growing restless. But this is good - I need to stick with one thing, I need to learn perseverance, obedience and patience. I need to keep working hard at my job, be early, do my best and behave. This is all part of growing up, and I need to grow up. I can't keep seeing things as a holiday. People stick with jobs for years, through the good and the bad, and they remain happy. I need to learn to be one of these people. I love this job, I do, and I need to remind myself more often of how lucky I am to have it.
Unfortunately I've been feeling isolated, bored and lonely in the workplace. The language barrier is a real issue when you can't have simple conversations with your work colleagues. Japanese is incredibly difficult to learn, and I assumed that by this point I would have a far better grasp of it than I currently do. I so rarely try to actually speak Japanese, I never practice and that's bad. I used to meet people who had been living in England for years, and couldn't understand why they spoke such poor English. But I completely understand now. Just because you are living in a country with a different language, it does not mean that you will automatically learn it by means of osmosis. I rarely socialize with Japanese people. I was very fortunate to find an amazing group of foreigner friends. But I have become too absorbed with my gaijin social life, and less concerned with my work relationships. I need to start trying, because over time I have actively isolated myself. It is so embarrassing to speak in Japanese at work, I feel so shy and I make so many mistakes... but I have to make a change. I renewed my contract, I am not even half way through my time here, and I recently started regretting this decision. But it's a challenge. There's no challenge in only staying one year. One year is a holiday. Two years is reality. I need to push myself. When things get hard I need to learn to see them through.
Yesterday I was in the worst mood. I didn't want to be at work. I had a whole day with no classes, and I'm really starting to hate those days. I forced myself to go out last night, I went to a small bar in Mito called "Babas" some old Japanese rockers mixed with my friends were jamming to live music all night. Apparently this is what Monday nights now look like here. I joined in with James to sing "Walk this Way" my version of singing is basically just head-banging in front of a microphone... but still. I woke up this morning feeling great. On my drive into work today I told myself that from today I am going to try hard. I am going to stop being grouchy at work - start being friendly, I want to try, I want to learn Japanese and socialize with my colleagues. Stop blending into the background, make conversation however embarrassing it may feel. The only one in control of this situation is myself.