August 10, 2009


Nobody gets excited about turning 22. People enjoy turning 18 (“you’re a real person now!”), 20 (“you’re not a teenager anymore!”) and 21 (“You can drink now, you’re actually a real person!”), but 22 draws no such reaction. Most people I know get giddy (and trashed) to celebrate the 21st birthday, but they greet 22 with “I can’t believe how old I am.”

Obviously, this is a silly thought – 22 is still incredibly young, and nobody I know is going to be really “old” until, I don’t know, 40. That seems a better time to start moping about age, instead of being so deafitist now. Still, 22 does carry significance. It’s the first age where birthdays go from something to get excited about to something dread-worthy. Unless you get excited by the ideas of social security or renting a car, all birthdays from this point on offer nothing to get pumped up about.

I turned 22 today, and have decided to do a sorta “progress report” on how I’m doing as a person. I think allowing for one truly indulgent post is a pretty decent birthday gift.

I’m actually enjoying life as a 22-year-old boring person. I’ve been extremely fortunate to stumble into this job in Japan, which brings a lot of obvious perks, but the aspects of it that would seem most daunting might actually be the most welcome. I spend most of my time here either working at the city hall or loafing around my apartment, surrounded by people I can’t understand, whether they be in the office or on the TV. Somehow, this makes life a lot calmer.
The last few months prior to now were rather stressful times. It probably had something to do with graduating and all the change that comes with that, but I couldn’t pinpoint an exact root. I acted way unlike myself – I got angry at times I would never get upset at usually. Actually, this still happens, but only in certain situations back in America. But here in Nabari, at least at the get-go, I feel a lot better, a lot more relaxed.

Not to say I’m completely problem free. A primer: I’m always worried about the future, loneliness, girls and bugs. Just because I moved to the other side of the world doesn’t mean all of those problems just go away. A lot of unnecessary grief, though, has floated away. I don’t have to worry about finding a job or starving to death because I can’t afford food (secret: this job pays way too much for what I actually have to do). I don’t have to deal with small things that popped up frequently back in college (vague, yeah, I know). And, most liberating, I can actually write again – I’ve created more writings in the two weeks I’ve been here than the last two months of college, definitely. Back then, I was way too consumed with what people would think. A certain journalism school I went to (which I also don’t miss all that much) was full of people ready to criticize other student’s work, just be total dicks about everything for the sake of being a “media person.” Those people are dead and gone to me, and I feel a lot more comfortable writing about whatever now.

The only thing I really miss from the last chapter of my life are my family and friends, and maybe American fast-food being everywhere.

As noted, there are still issues. The above permanent problems are still very present and even become more complicated when you factor in that nobody here speaks the same language as me (all let you figure out which ones get hit by this the hardest). And I’m worried that all this relaxation is somehow turning my current situation into a vacation instead of, uh, life. I don’t want to be a hibernating, I want to actually be out and experiencing things…but I’m in kind of a tricky position to do that. I’ve only been here about a week, so I’m probably overthinking this, but those are my fears and my doubts.

That stuff aside, I am enjoying myself, even if I’m not exactly shouting praise from the mountain-tops (I don’t want to burn myself out, I’d rather keep a good thing going as long as possible). So yeah…that’s me at the moment. Happy birthday.

(Japanese Fun Fact #5 – On the afternoon news here, they just spent ten minutes celebrating an anchors 38th birthday. They brought out a cake and gifts. Both very enjoyable and a very good snapshot of Japanese media. See, praise for American journalism! I’m not a complete jerkbag.)


One Response to “22”

  1. Lizzie :) said

    I liked this post very, very much Patrick. It made me feel a lot better about being a stressed troubled neurotic 20-year-old.

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