15. How Japanese culture has changed me

Everywhere you go, everyone you meet, everything you encounter, changes you somehow. Picking up Japanese, having Japanese friends, living in Japan for half a year has changed me. Once you learn so much about a certain culture, there’s this social obligation to conform to it. I guess here are some of the aspects that I feel that I’ve changed in.

1. I think and speak to myself in Japanese.
Someone once told me that for learning new languages, the turning point is when you start to think in that language and not think in your native language before translating and saying it out loud. And I think this is very true. Thinking in Japanese has helped me to get more practice too. And well, since I already talk to myself in English talking to myself in Japanese will only help to improve my pronounciation :3

2. I find myself thinking of whether I’ll cause unnecessary trouble to people.
Japanese people often act in a way so as not to “人に迷惑がかからない”, which means not to cause trouble to others. For example they don’t talk on the phones in trains to keep the peace and quiet, and they often answer with ambiguity so as to allow the other person to save face. Like saying that you’re sick or very busy when someone asks you out instead of rejecting them outright. So whenever I want to make a request to someone, I’ll always tell them that it’s okay if they’re too busy or they don’t want to do it, or that if I’m a nuisance they’re free to ignore me. Because I genuinely don’t want to cause trouble for them.

3. I have become more skeptical of people when they invite me to events or to join them.
In Japan, people have 本音(honne) and 建前(tatemae), which is your real feelings and your mask respectively. Tatemae is like inviting someone to visit you but they are only saying this because of a social obligation, and in reality they do not want you to pay them a visit at all. It’s very confusing in Japan because it’s really difficult to tell honne from tatemae, so most of the time you’re unsure if the person is really inviting you over or is just saying it for show. In Singapore this doesn’t really happen as much, but I’m still cautious.

4. I am guilty of 90% of the following. Except for チンチン欲しいな.

14. Nothing really makes me happy anymore

I’ve been trapped in a miserable abyss for the past few weeks. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Nothing seems to be going right. I absent-mindedly leave things behind, and the count for the last 10 days stands at 3: My passport, my wallet and my matriculation card. Luckily both my passport and wallet have been recovered, but I still feel just as miserable. It’s as if my brain isn’t functioning normally.

I don’t really know how to explain what I’m feeling right now, but being stuck in this perpectual state only reinforces it. It’s a combination of frustration, resignation and apathy. It’s kind of neither here nor there, and thus it only serves to drag me further down. I’m not frustrated enough to punch a wall to vent, not resigned enough to start sobbing, and well, the feeling of apathy is just hanging there. I’ll very much rather encounter a strong wave of feelings that will push me over the edge and force me to do something about it.

I’m not focusing very well on my studies, I get distracted very easily, and I procrastinate even though it’s 3am in the morning and work is still not done. I’m a little sick of everything right now. People, social responsibilties, school, work, everything else.

If only there was some way to get out of this vicious cycle. I want to laugh again. I don’t think I’ve truely laughed in a long time. All I do is look sick, or tired, or stoned.

Nothing really makes me happy anymore.