Let me start by wishing you all Happy New Year. Now, where do I begin?
At the top of 2022, I made a promise to myself that I’d leave any situation that no longer served me. Cliched but it is what it is. I had a good job, family was healthy and my bills were being paid. However, I started to feel trapped in a space I’d call home for 8 – 9 years. If I’m being completely transparent, I’d been plagued by that feeling since 2018. I’d get up, perform my morning routine, go to work, see and talk to friends, return home and do it all over again. I fell into a pattern of mundanity. You know that episode of SpongeBob where Squidward moved to Tentacle Acres? Remember how exciting everything was at first for him? Recall how he started to feel after waking up to the sameness, EVERY SINGLE DAY. That’s where I was. I knew a change was needed but I wasn’t quite sure what that was.
Let’s speed up a little. 2020, the year the pandemic started, was the catalyst for a few happenings. The world was on lockdown for about 3 – 4 months as countries tried to grapple with the issue at hand. We were all forced to pause or at least a version of that. Being a resident of Japan, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one shocked that Japan also was put on pause. This made it clear how serious things were. During those 3 – 4 months of being at home, I decided I’d put a plan in place to start my podcast. This was huge for me. The idea of putting myself out there in a new way was exciting. Was this what I needed to get out of my very own Tentacle Acres?
I launched Chatterbox Keirn in October 2020 and I was filled with renewed purpose. I reviewed my favourite reality shows, spoke on topics that I interested me, interviewed a very good friend of mine and even found some closure over the guilt I’ve felt for missing my cousin’s memorial in 2015. RIP Jerome. Miss you and love you. Little did I know that some other decisions I made in the latter part of 2020 would have some consequential effects in 2021. Not to be shaken by this, I chose to focus on growing my podcast and continue on the path to recover from said effects. But, the feeling returned. Here we go again. I had thought my podcast was the way forward but it soon became clear that it served as a distraction. I wasn’t really addressing why I felt trapped. The pod began to suffer as the excitement wore off. Sorry to my listeners.
Countries had implemented travel bans during this time and Japan was no exception. Fortunately, the ban was lifted and residents and citizens of Japan were able to leave and return, so long as we tested negative for COVID. This was it! I booked the most expensive ticket I’d ever purchased to the US for summer 2021. Whilst in the US, I reconnected with friends, spent much needed time with my family and all felt right. For the first time since moving to Japan and going on holiday, I didn’t want to go back. I now realised that my two feet were out the door and all that was remaining was for me to close it, though not permanently.
After returning to Japan, I decided that I’d do one more year then leave. The decision felt right. I was happy. The chips were falling in place. I knew that Fall and Winter 2021 were going to be my last full Fall and Winter in Japan. I felt sadness but my heart was lighter than it had been for the longest while. But what would I do after leaving? Would I continue teaching? Would I return to school as planned? There were no concrete decisions made but that was part of the new phase I was preparing myself for. I made sure to do as much as I could with the people who meant so much to me since I’ve been in Japan because in a year, we wouldn’t be in the same space.
So in comes 2022. I had a staff meeting in January. Soon after that, I spoke with my family and the timeline moved up. I was now leaving Japan sooner than originally planned. Then it hit me, I was getting ready to say goodbye to my home, friends and students for the last 8 – 9 years. I slowly broke the news to each of them and though they were unhappy that I wouldn’t be physically with them in Japan, they were just as happy that I was entering a new phase in my life. To my friends and students in Japan, yoroshiku onegai shimashita (よろしくお願いしました ).
I relocated to the US and sadly it was during a time when my grandfather’s illness worsened and we lost him in June. Shortly after that, my grandmother fell ill and we lost her in September. I wasn’t able to physically be at my grandfather’s funeral but I’m so thankful that I made it to my grandmother’s. I wouldn’t have been able to forgive myself if I couldn’t. RIP grams and gramps.
As the title of this post suggests, the same song is being played but a new dance is being performed. This simply means that my goals have not changed, I’m just taking a different route to get there. Part of this new journey took me along a path I hadn’t fully thought about, aviation. Now, before you starting thinking I’m a pilot, I’m not. LOL. However, I’m the next best thing. I am now a Flight Attendant. This decision has been one of the best in recent years. Shout out to my friends Rochelle, Sukanya and Andrew for the advices and encouragement given.
The song is the same, but the dance is different.