Running Away is for Grown-ups

Dear Toto,

Just saying the word Japan makes my heartrate go up, my mind go a little fuzzy, and all of a sudden I’m so excited/nervous/terrified that I can’t think about anything else. I’m leaving everything I know. I’m leaving everyone I know. Once or twice I’ve imagined staying, but I can’t; I know what’s here for me. And I guess I’m the kind of person who chooses the mystery box.

I’ve started to think I have this made-up condition called life ADD. I’ve had so many ideas in the year since I graduated from college and I haven’t gone through with any of them. I was supposed to move to a new state with my (ex) boyfriend. But then I didn’t. I was supposed to join the army. But then I didn’t. I was supposed to get this big editing job I’ve always dreamed of. But then I didn’t. And I thought of all of these things as failures. It’s quite possible they are failures. Or maybe they’re stepping stones, like arrows pointing me in the right direction. Maybe turning down the other ideas/opportunities just gave me the chance to say yes to this one. (It’s probably just random chance, but where’s the fun in that? Life gave me lemons, so I dumped the lemonade out and decided to go drink tea in Japan.)

I’ve always wanted to travel. From a very young age, I wanted to learn languages. Of course, the plan back then was to learn about one a year, which obviously didn’t work out, but now I have the chance to gain real-life experience with at least one. I’ve never wanted to teach. But I kept finding myself in teacher positions: instructing swim lessons and gymnastics classes and tutoring high schoolers, middle schoolers, and even my peers in college. I loved it. And, turns out, I was pretty good at it. I never wanted to work with people. I never thought of myself as a people-person. But now, through a rather hellish six-month period of working retail, I’ve found myself to be very good at talking to people, making connections and friends, persuading complete strangers to smile and laugh. And I like it. Side note: I think that’s a skill I got from my parents, and from my father in particular. It used to be embarrassing, the way he would talk to strangers at the grocery store or in restaurants, just being his goofy self and trying to get them to smile. But now that I’m older, I find that to be a characteristic that I admire and unconsciously try to emulate. Oops.

Put it all together, and basically I think moving to Japan to teach English is the right move for me at this point in my life. I need a new start. And there’s nothing like jumping continents to evade a pre-mid-twenties life crisis.

See, I’m leaving because I’m running away. From an ex-boyfriend and a future that is no longer mine. From the place where I tried so hard to start a life and yet was unable to make a home. From a self that wanted everything but kept ending up with nothing.

But I’m also running toward things: new possibilities, experiences, viewpoints. I’m running to a new way of life, because the one I’m living just isn’t working out for me.

Am I ready? Hell no. Am I going to try anyway? Of course I am.

Love, Kita


Current favorite Japanese phrase: かのじょはビールをもらうべきです

Kanojo wa biru wo morau beki desu.

She needs to be given a beer.


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