Japan was way more amazing than I thought it would be. I mean, I have wanted to go to to Japan since I was a five years old watching shows like Soko Ga Shiritaiwith my grandfather on the Japanese television network, but my only other experience with visiting a place I've only dreamed of was when I got to spend a few days in New York City, which left me with a feeling of, "Huh, okay, so that's what it's like," and a very slight feeling of, not so much disappointment, but a lack of surprise. Things I thought would surprise me in New York as I'd never experienced them before (seeing huge skyscrapers, being in close proximity to so many people at once, subways, etc) only left me feeling like, "Yeah, of course this happens. Yeah, of course that exists." I expected to feel something similar about Japan, but it was completely different. I loved literally every single thing about Japan, from the architecture to the way people ride escalators. This may sound like an exaggeration, but because of my depression, I really didn't think I could even feel the emotion of "wonder" anymore... but so many things in Japan left me with a sense of awe. Just being able to feel that one more time makes me want to cry, because I didn't think it was possible for my brain to process that emotion anymore.
I also feel like time passed by really slowly while I was there, mostly because, I think, for the literally the first time in my life (excluding childhood, I suppose), I was actually living in the moment, in the present, enjoying simply just existing and not worrying about anything in the future. I think that living in the moment, more than anything was the most surprising and life-changing thing for me. I have tried to explain it to a few people, and I'll try again now: but I can't recall a single time in the past eleven years (or basically, since I hit puberty and developed my lovely crippling chronic depression) that I have been completely and without a doubt </span>happy. I would describe the positive emotions I've felt in most of my adult life these past few years as being 'content' or 'pleased.' I feel like most of my emotional states are divided into "satisfied" and "not satisfied", with suicidal thoughts at the extreme end of the 'not satisfied' spectrum, and nothing at the extreme 'satisfied' end. That is, 'happiness' existed completely out of reach on my emotional spectrum - something other people feel but that I no longer do. At my best, the best emotional state on the 'satisfied' end of my emotional spectrum has been 'there is nothing to immediately stress about/have anxiety from so I am pleased and relaxed,' but I have never, not once, felt happy. That may sound kind of morbid, but it isn't really. I should emphasize that the absence of feeling happy doesn't mean that I have been sad these past few years. Not being able to feel 'happy' has been my reality since age 11, and again, like wonder, this was an emotion I have never expected to ever feel.
Anyway, so - in Japan, for an amazing, mind-blowing six and a half weeks, I was happy and living in the present. I was happy with where I was, with who I was, with everything. I was able to visit the cities of Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Tokyo, and Yokohama. I got to meet up with my high school friend Lukas, and I spent an amazing weekend with him in Tokyo, staying in his tiny studio apartment in Nishiwaseda. I was nervous about spending three days in such close proximity with another person since I, like all other introverts, need to spend time alone to recharge, but everything about my visit with him was fun and stress-free. I've made really dear friends with a girl from Ireland, a girl from Australia, and a guy from Korea (although he doesn't speak any English whatsoever, so all my text conversations with him are in Japanese and thus take me forever to write, ha!). Maybe someday I'll write more about it and everyone, although I'm afraid if I spend too much time reminiscing about Japan, I'll always stay living in the past...
So. Being able to feel emotions I'd never thought I'd feel again, being able to live in the present - something I'd never thought I'd be able to do - all of this has put my life into perspective. Now that I know happiness is an attainable state of existence for me, I want to achieve it again. Knowing that I can live in the present, that it is actually possible for me to do and not just some far-fetched life advice you see pop up in quote photos on Facebook - I want to do it again. And a lot of my behaviors and situations here at home are not conductive to that end.
One of the main things that has been hindering this has been work. Earlier this year, I liked my job, I enjoyed my co-workers, I was proud of the promotions I had received, and best of all, I could handle going to work everyday and not feel like I wanted to kill myself (see: Target, Gamestop). Only, a month or two before I left for Japan, our store started to switch over to a commission system, so I came back to work with that commission in full swing. As you'd expect, the allure of monetary compensation for the amount of sales you make has turned a store full of 18-29 year old women into a fucking madhouse of highschool backstabbing, shit-talking, and cattiness. Eight managers/supervisors left in the time I was gone from work, mostly because they disagreed with the system and the direction the company is heading in. That was the biggest red flag for me - and so last week, I put in my two weeks. I am saying good-bye to everything I have worked so hard for in the past year, but I can't deal with the toxic environment at work, and I don't want to devote any more energy to it when I could be using that energy on something better. My last day of work is this Saturday, and while I am nervous that I'm quitting RIGHT before the holidays and will thus be broke for Christmas, I think actually having free time is going to make up for that.
Anyway, I need to go get get ready for my closing shift tonight. Of course, now that I have a last day, work has been pretty fun and everyone is pretty cool with me (because I am no longer a threat to their commission money, basically), so I don't mind so much. Still, I am so excited to be done...!