Monday, September 23, 2013

An Important Variable

          Remember two months ago when I talked about being excited about being new? "I'm absolutely stoked about... being new... I may not be the most social person in the world, but I embrace adventure, invitations, and challenges. These things are HANDED to you when you're new..." What I said then still holds true. I've been living in Japan for two weeks now, and adventure, invitations, and challenges is a good summary of my experiences so far... Except,
          Now I realize I missed something big in my initial calculations. I forgot about the eventual necessity of sharing your history to new friends. In fairness, giving your story to people for the first time is an adventure, an invitation, and a challenge, but it’s unique in the sense that you must travel backwards rather than forwards, in order to go forward.
          I’m not going to be presumptuous and say that the opportunity to tell about your past arises only after you establish yourself in the present with the group of people you will tell your story to, but that seems to make a lot of sense. You don’t usually start out with telling people who you are other than your name, country of origin, maybe age and major, and maybe some general interests. More likely, you first give them chances to observe you and make their own intuitions about your personality. Meanwhile, you yourself are subconsciously selecting those who will be the audience of your storytelling in time.
          Eventually the timelines collide, and you’re in the perfect time and place to go into something deeper than usual with your new friends - your past.
          It’s a big effort to take. The thought of it exhaustive because the past took a long time to build. But the older you get, the more you've been through, the more moved-on you are from past strives and depressions, the easier it actually is to take the plunge.
          I learned all this at 1 a.m. this morning in my floor’s kitchen with two new friends. I had just finished telling a story of my past when mindlessly I got up to do the dishes, suddenly realizing how long “having dinner together” had lasted. It didn't occur to me that my story had impressed anyone. Honestly, it felt as if I had just recalled something very casual like a vacation or teachers I had had.
          So there I was scrubbing a frying pan with steel wool, more concerned about dormitory etiquette than anything else at the moment, when one of my friends gives me the most unforeseen observation of myself I've ever received:
“For someone’s who’s been through all that, you’re a very easygoing person.”
          Up until that moment I had been holding on to an outdated self-image of a severely damaged person nobody would ever understand or be able to fix. But now I notice how normal and happy I am and have been for a while.  How much of a likable human being I can be. It's surreal, and maybe the reason I strangely woke up early this morning and made myself a very nice breakfast. 
As I said, going backwards in order to go forward.


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