I know I’m a little late to the party with blogs posting roundups of last year or those setting intentions for the new one, but it’s still January so I’ll consider myself fashionably late. I personally find it hard to snap to business, to instantly change into a “new year, new me!” on January 1st. Here in Japan, most people are still on holiday for the beginning of January, so as a result I remained in a holiday mentality until just recently.
While I realize that on a macro level this year will continue to be the same in many ways (the title of the hilarious Samantha Irby essays “New Year, Same Trash,” springs to mind) internally I feel ready for some changes. This is kind of new for me I’m not really good with goals. I’m more of a “blowing in the wind, take the opportunities that come to me” type of person. In case you’ve forgotten, I thought I’d stay in Japan one year, and I’m currently going on five. If I don’t make some damn plans, I will probably just stay here forever, subsisting on a diet of rice balls and convenience store coffee.
Last year was so volatile, and although most of those changes ended up being good for me, it was all I could do to keep afloat while it was happening. This year might continue to be pretty unstable as well. I am a new freelancer, after all, is a life path not known for stability. But one thing is certain: I will continue to be in Japan for 2021, and perhaps 2022 since who knows what the rest of the world will be like. After rolling with the constant punches of 2020, I’m ready for this to be the year where I do some restructuring and set some new frameworks for my life. It’s time to actually do the work.
One vital area of my life that needs some work is money and finances. It’s not that I’m bad with money, but I’m certainly not brilliant either. It’s more that I’ve been spending and enjoying life abroad without really thinking about it or concentrating on saving. I am a 33 year old woman who still pays rent and lives month to month, and if I want to move somewhere else or have any other kind of big expense ever in my life I need to start budgeting and saving. I’m fortunate in that one of my closest friends, Diana, is a financial planner, not to mention a total badass and true inspiration in these challenging times. For a refreshing and holistic look at money and finances, I highly recommend you check her out on her website or Instagram.
I’ve also finally admitted that I need to do some work when it comes to relationships. My friendships and my family connections have never been stronger, and 2020 allowed me to become closer with a lot of people in my life. I’m beginning to think that I would like that kind of closeness romantically as well. I’ve been single for the past four and a half years, and loving it – but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t also been running from the baggage from my previous relationship. I think I’d assumed that because I’m a reasonably healthy, well-adjusted person that I had walked away from that relationship unscathed, but of course that wasn’t true, and it’s been a lot easier to just say I don’t like commitment and to be a player than to deal with it. It also doesn’t help that a “typical” relationship wouldn’t suit me. I don’t want to get married or have kids, and even buying a house or cohabitating with someone seem like a stretch for my imagination right now. In order to move on and plan for the future, I need to unpack the past and figure out what it is that I truly want and need.
The last area that I would like to rekindle is in the realm of creativity. As a creative person, my inspiration and motivation were shattered last year, and who could blame me? Recently, it’s been getting better, but it still feels like just a little spark and not the roaring inferno that it could be. But I’ve started up some collaborations with fellow creatives, and hope to seek more, as well as to keep writing daily.
In November, tired of feeling sorry for myself, I began a daily writing habit. I set the bar really low – the writing could literally be anything. Paid articles, blog posts, journal entries, even brainstorming lists; the point was just to do the act of writing on a daily basis. If I succeeded, I allowed myself to put a cute sticker on my desk calendar. I would be a total liar if I told you that I’d done it every day since then without fail, but I’ve done it most days. I feel such a swell of pride when my eyes land on my calendar, proudly covered in stickers of Japanese bento boxes and playful woodland creatures. It sounds like a silly motivator, but try it. I guarantee you will love it.
Otherwise, I plan to keep on keeping on, and moving forward carrying the life mantra that I set when I first came to Japan: to be open and say yes. After all, it’s gotten me this far.
Safe and Happy Travels,