I still find it a little strange to be doing victory dances for things I regarded mundane back home. Today, I actually didn’t use GPS and managed to finally get to my destination simply because I…knew how to get there. And for the first time, I went into a legit restaurant on my own (Udon!!!!!!! Mmm) without fumbling with my English-Japanese dictionary or my translation app, I just…understood and knew what to say. Only later did I realize these things – after which I grinned like an insane person – so I couldn’t help but feel…victorious. These private victories – life’s sweet surprises – really put the meaning to “life’s simple joys,” and confirms just how much happiness conspicuous growth gives.
In addition, I was pleased to make a new friend today at the phone store (like an AT&T or Verizon back home). Her name was りん. I told her she was beautiful – and she really was! – and how thankful I was for her kindness. Her initial blank expression led me to believe that I probably said some wrong Japanese words, if it wasn’t completely butchered at all. But then she laughed – to my relief! – and in her best effort, she said in English: “Thanks you.” I guess she understood after all, thank heavens! “You’re beautiful, like Philippines (as she saw from my passport that I am from there). I want go back,” she told me. “ありがとう ございます (thank you),” i said, slightly bowing. She was too kind. Her English seemed way better than my Japanese, but in any case, I was delighted she spoke a little English. りん is Chinese who moved to Japan six years ago. After conversing about her remarkable experience in the Philippines and how much I’d love to visit China – in Japanese here, then English there – we exchanged information in hopes of hanging out sometime. I really was thrilled to have met her in an unlikely setting, well, for me anyway. I wasn’t at work or a party or with a friend – my usual mediums when meeting new folks.
Usually, back home, I keep to myself when running errands, though I will, of course, offer warm and amicable exchanges, but with no intention of becoming friends beyond that (unless the other person initiated. Someone once mentioned how snobbish this appears but it’s not that all!! I’m just really shy!!). But being here, I think, is changing that aspect of me. I find myself being more open and receptive, commenting or striking up a conversation in an effort to meet more people and make new friends. Maybe a part of me deems it necessary to meet people since I don’t have much of a network here, but I hope to make permanent this endeavor in constantly pushing myself to sincerely engage others or initiate interactions so as to generally enhance my people-meeting skills (which, really, is not my forte. I usually wait until someone approaches me – as I already mentioned – but I want to change this). Despite my clammy, nervous self in such situations, I know that stepping out of my comfort zone will be the only way to continue growing; and if I have hopes of forming lasting friendships while here, then there really is no choice but to choose growth. So, I will happily be clammy and nervous for awhile until this becomes second nature.