The start of a new year

The year is ending soon, which means it’s time for New Year’s Resolutions! This is actually something I enjoy planning and writing, but that I really struggle to complete. Why? Because I always forget what my resolutions are throughout the year and when I finally think that maybe I should take a look, I am too late to truly complete many of them. And yet, here I am, once more, writing up another resolutions list

Also, this post will talk about COVID-19 so if this is a trigger for you, please skip until the yellow highlighted portion.

I understand that this is something that has and is affecting many people around the world, and most likely, not for the best. I know people have lost loved ones and it makes me sad that I still don’t see an end to any of this (and with the Omicron variant now out in the world…), which means that many more people will be lost. Please take care and get vaccinated.

But as much as this has negatively impacted many people, I think it has also sparked many changes. With many businesses finding themselves having to close, and many people needing to find solutions to their unemployment, I feel like this was their chance to really alter the workplace.

Personally, I think that COVID has also helped me have a more “who cares” attitude.

I mean, I wish I could fully embody that phrase but the truth is that while I have come closer to identifying with it, I’m still too close to the “I care too much” spectrum. What does this mean?

I feel like I care too much about what people think about me. I value how people see me too much and it’s something that I hate because it’s caused me endless problems, especially relating to self-growth. I am trying to shed this attitude, but I think it will take a long time for me to change. BUT, in this time of COVID, I feel like I’ve shed it slightly. So for that, I am grateful for the many new policies and opportunities that COVID opened up.

So while I may not have met many of my resolutions, I have also completed something that I never thought I’d start walking towards, and that is my own happiness.

No more COVID talk after this point

One of my goals this year was “to be happy.”

Do you guys know the song “Warning” by Incubus?

I suggest we, learn to love our-selves before it’s, made i-llegal

She woke in the morning, she knew that her life had passed her by

And she called out a warning, don’t ever let life pass you by

I feel like I’ve let a lot of my life pass me by, but this is also, I’m sure, the midlife crisis whispering into my ear. I’m not old if you think about how people can live up to 100 years nowadays, but I also am realizing that I’ve not made much progress in life that I am happy about. I haven’t really lived for myself for a long time, which is why I made that goal for myself. And moving to Japan is one of those things that makes me happy.

I’m often asked, as I’m sure many JETs are, why I came to Japan (or some variation of this).

The truth is I have many reasons. Some of the reasons I’ve shared are that I like traveling, I like Japanese culture, I wanted to be a teacher when I was in high school (a high school math teacher, if anyone is curious), and I like to meet new people. I also want to make some easy bucks. I don’t have much planning to do for this job. I pretty much just show up and do as my JTEs request. It’s not a hard job and I can do things I enjoy afterward. It’s actually such a simple job that I feel like I’m wasting my time (since I worked a lot when I was back home)

I hardly, if ever, had time to sit down and just relax. A lot of my personal projects that I hold dear in my heart suffered because of this. But now I have more time and I’d like to finally work on these projects.

So let’s get back on track. A new year means New Year’s Resolutions. What are some of my new lifetime goals?

1. I don’t want life to pass me by. We only live once and I’d like to remember this. I want to do things that will make me happy. I’ve always been the type to wake up one day and think, “I’m going to do X-thing” and just do it, so I like to think that this won’t be hard to complete, but it’s one thing to do things like this in my comfort zone and another to expand. I want to break my unhealthy boundaries and also create better boundaries. I know this is something I can’t do in just one year, but I’d like 2022 (or as of me writing this post) to be when I start. I have an Inner Sakura that I think deserves to live in the real world, that I think would help me become a more complete person.

2. I want to learn and try out new things. I will only be here for five years (max) and I can’t let that go to waste. Before coming to Japan, I made some goals for myself, which I’ve been slowly revising based on what I’ve experienced so far, but that list remains mostly intact. I want to learn Japanese for otaku reasons, but also because I love languages. I also feel like I’m already here, why not take advantage of it and learn the language? It will also give me something to do! And it’s something that I feel will open up more opportunities that align with my interests in the future. Who knows, maybe I may go into translating one day. And while I’m in Japan, I want to travel, meet new people, learn more about the culture, and just, experience new things. I don’t want to be asked one day about my JET experience and find that I’m bitter because all I did was a job. I want to make this into something I can cherish.

3. Put more time and love into the things that bring me joy. Most of these things are personal projects that I won’t talk about but I want them to be at the center, alongside the other things I must do to be a functional human in society. And if possible, combine these things with my work. You know that quote that fell into disuse, the one about never working a day in your life if you do what you love? Well, I want to do something, find a job (or jobs, I’ve never been shy about moving around), that I won’t hate. A job that challenges me but that always makes me smile for one reason or another. I don’t need anything deep. I like being an ALT because I think the kids are cute and so that makes me happy. Things don’t need to be complicated. I don’t want to live a complicated life. I’ll leave that to others who enjoy complicated things.

4. Put more emphasis on my health, not just physical but mental and emotional. This is something that I think is extremely difficult for me. Like I mentioned before, I care too much about what people think of me. Am I being too loud? Is my eating behavior offensive? Is what I’m saying smart enough? I want to start working on improving this mentality of mine. I also want to open up to people. I feel like I have very superficial relationships with people so I often lose contact with friends. What can I do to improve this? Honestly, I have no idea, but it’s something I’d like to work on and I think that being true to myself and opening up is a good starting point. And of course, my physical health. This is something that I worked on this year and I’m glad to note I’ve made improvements, but it’s also a roller coaster. There are months where I just let myself go. I know the types of foods I should avoid and I know that just a short walk a day can really improve my health so to continue engraining these habits.

But I don’t just have deep goals for 2022. Like most people, I like to make easy lists that I can check off as I go because who doesn’t like to see that they are improving?

  1. Read 70 books. This will be slightly difficult because I’m slightly cut off from English books, but I think it’s a good challenge. I almost met my goal for 2021 but I slacked most of the year. Let’s see how I fare in 2022
  2. Write more often. Anything. Maybe more blog posts. Maybe something more official. Maybe I should make a word count goal. That would be fun! Hm, this year I wrote approximately 85,000 words accross multiple projects. Let’s go with 256,000 words for 2022. This is three times this year’s. But I have time to spare so surely this won’t be hard to meet? Haha
  3. Write more Spanish and Bilingual posts. This is honestly something that I’ve been wanting to do for years but never did because I didn’t think it would be popular. But who cares. I’m having fun!
  4. Introduce Japanese writing somewhere. It doesn’t have to be on my blog. Maybe on Instagram. It doesn’t even have to be complicated. A simple sentence or phrase. I want to start using it
  5. Do at least 12 interesting things. I’d like to share these 12 things for my end of year post next year.
  6. Start journaling again. This is something that I did the last time I went to Japan and that I’ve been doing on and off since a while ago, but I’d like to start this up again. I think it would be a nice way to create something to remember my time here! Let’s see if I’m successful though
  7. Join something official. I’m not even sure what I mean by this. Maybe a writing contest or speak contest or art show or, who knows, whatever may come.

Well, that about sums up most of what I wanted to talk about. I have many more goals I’d like to work on that I’ll keep to myself. While some people believe that putting it out there might bring about some accountability, I think that sometimes this can backfire. And I may as well fail by myself. But I don’t think I will! Let’s see how it all goes. I’m sure 2022 will be an interesting year

And because I just realized I haven’t said it.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope it brings a wealth of happiness and just, new experiences and feelings into your life. Do you have resolutions for this year that you’d like to share?

And for those who are still in 2021, HAPPY SOON-TO-BE NEW YEAR!

– G

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