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Nihon de: The adventures of Maggie » Ghibli

“Sure you don’t want it?” “Positive.”

Posted by maggie on Jun 6, 2012 in In Japan

Today at the Tamachi station women’s restroom, I had a funny moment. I was waiting in line behind this woman, and one of the stall doors finally opened. She looked like she was going to go for it, but we both realized quickly that it was a squat pot. She looked back at me, smiled and gestured me to go ahead. I just shrugged, and we both started laughing as she turned back.

There were no words between us, but it was clear that neither of us wanted that stall. That is one thing I can be positively sure about.

In case my blogs haven’t been displaying it clearly, positivity is not really my strong point. I like to think of myself as a realist, but I suppose pessimist can also apply at times. As human beings, I think we like to focus on negative things because in the scope of time, even just a day, something bad that happened in an otherwise good day can stick out more clearly than a good thing during a good day. And a craptacular day overall is awful; sometimes it’s hard to find something good to take away from a day like that, right?

I mentioned before that I don’t see too much negativity in Japanese media. The news in America loves playing up big stories of negativity. “This could be potentially fatal.” “Local man shoots three teenagers.” “The hottest celebrity couple breaking up.”

That’s not to say everyone is this way. I can just see a basis for why the focus on negative things is encouraged. Even in movies, it’s satisfying to watch a character who has been stepped on during the whole film rise up and get revenge. Releasing negativity, getting over it is cathartic, useful and helpful in our daily lives. Whether your a pessimist, optimist, realist, whatever, you feel down sometimes and getting over it feels good.

It’s when there is too much of a negative focus that things can be bad, even unhealthy. This trip is providing so many opportunities for self reflection, but it can lead to stress and overload sometimes, and as a realist/occasional pessimist, this can get to me. Today was just one of those days.

I have always known I was bad at reading signals from others; not because I can’t read people at all, but because I have conditioned myself to read signals when there are none. I’m a very sensitive person who sometimes doesn’t take teasing well; it comes from some bad friendships I had when I was younger, which have put me on edge, even all this time later. I like to feel like I’ve made steps and gotten better, but sometimes when there is a down day….well, it’s like I’m back to square one all over again.

Sometimes I have trouble telling when people are joking, especially if the joke makes me feel stupid or otherwise down about myself. Sometimes that turns to resentment and anger, and I act on it at inopportune times. Then I feel stupid and upset, angry at myself and others at the same time, but I stumble trying to find the correct emotion and response, in a sea of endless possibilities.

By why do I say all this? Because this trip is a learning experience, applicable to so much in my life. By talking to others, both Japanese and not, I’m making discoveries, and trying to develop ways to adjust and get better. I want to be a better person by the time this trip concludes, and I want to hurry up and get with it, seeing as I only have about 3 weeks left.

I found some comfort in talking to people, particularly on this trip. There is so much support coming from my friends and family, but sometimes in this new place, I can and will feel very alone. It is nice to have people over here that understand and care, and I can go talk to if I have things to get off my chest.

I need to be a better communicator is what it comes down to. The reason I joined the major at JMU was not because I was an excellent example and could breeze through the classes; I’m not the greatest at giving speeches, and often times, when talking to people, I resort to gesturing (and making sound effects at the worst of times) when I can’t find a good way to express myself.

I chose it specifically because I like following how people communicate with each other, how they express feelings and wants and emotions in their own ways. Looking at my own experiences, sometimes I cannot understand why people act the way they do, but I want to learn. I want to better develop my skills, to be happy and healthy and be helpful to others, but at the same time know my limits.

I still have quite a ways to go, sad to say. But it’s not completely sad to say, because I’m still trying. I’ll still keep going for it because it’s a worthwhile goal that will be helpful as heck later on. That’s some positivity, right?

I can’t completely change the person that I am, but I can mold and shape that person into being closer to what I want to be. I’m going to practice thinking about things positively, because a conscious effort is the only way I can make a habit out of it. It’s the same with working out, eating right, sleeping well, studying, etc. Being conscious and diligent. Don’t beat myself up, but still hold myself accountable.

Sorry if this mostly seems like pep talking and what now, but I feel like this will help me, and make the conviction feel more solid.

Tomorrow is Studio Ghibli Museum, and after that, who knows. I’m excited to see exhibits for some of my favorite movies of all time. Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, and the other directors and producers at Studio Ghibli really do feel like the “Disney” of Japan, but for an added bonus, they still use 2D animation. I wonder what we’ll see there…

On Friday, we’re doing Karaoke too! Actual Japanese “ka-ra-oh-keh!” :) That should be fun. I know the machines probably won’t do romaji lyrics, so I’ll really have to work on reading hiragana fast. If all else fails, shoot for anime themes and J-pop I know.

Last week of class feels weird. I can’t imagine what my internship will be like, but that’s still some time off.


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