It is interesting, as our time in Japan is coming to a close, all the different comments we’ve gotten from people about how we’ve spent the past two years of our lives. Given that it is at the forefront of our minds, obviously, and it seems to be at the front of others’ as well, I thought I would do a bit of reflecting, about this experience, about our choice to come here, and about what may happen in the future.
The most common response I get from people about our choice to come live and work in Japan for two years is a mixture of awe and disbelief, “It is so cool that you guys did it, I really couldn’t have.”
My answer to that is, why not?
I know, for the most part, it seemed like we were cool as cucumbers before we left. With the exception of a select few family members and friends, we generally didn’t let our guard down. We tried to be optimistic and positive around most people, in part because we were trying to convince ourselves and in part because we needed those people to be optimistic and positive for us. We needed their support and their energy so that we could also find that within ourselves.
Truth be told, I was scared to death getting on the plane two years ago. The only thing that got me in that seat, and kept me there, was the promise from Aaron that if I didn’t like living in Japan, we could come back. “What about the contract,” I remember asking through my tears. “We’ll break it,” Aaron had replied.
And so we left, me knowing that, if at any time I wanted to, I could come back. And, for the most part, I didn’t want to. Sure, I may have said that I wanted to go back to the States during some of my most difficult and trying moments, and during those moments Aaron would always remind me that we could, if I wanted to, but that we would have to make that decision when I wasn’t so emotional.
Once the emotions calmed down and I realized that I had also had bad days when I lived in the U.S., I am proud to say that I never wanted to go back. In fact, I was the first one that said that I thought it would be a good idea if we stayed a second year. I surprised myself.
I surprised myself, and you can surprise yourself too. We didn’t get the chance to spend the past two years in Japan just because we are lucky or because we are any different from any of you. We got this chance because we took a risk and it worked. We saw an opportunity and we jumped at it. We made the most of life.
It wasn’t always easy. Packing up our home, saying goodbye to our cat and our things, moving to a new country, getting established with new friends, learning how to do new jobs, figuring out how to live life using a new language, having a baby in the NICU for two weeks when we couldn’t always understand what was happening to him, raising him for the first few months without a safety net of family nearby. It wasn’t easy. It was far from it. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
I’m not sure where life will take us next. For now, it is taking us to Chicago. What we do know is that we both aren’t so scared anymore. We both are more open to looking for, and seeking out, opportunities that will make us excited, happy, fulfilled and energized. And, when those opportunities arise, we won’t be as scared as we were two years ago, because we know, like most things in life, it will all work out.