Dec 23, 2016

The Big 25! Self pity, Good Friends, Pandas, Ocean and Onsen!

October feels like forever ago already...
It was both busy and quiet, and highly emotional for me as well.
 My birthday week started out really rough, but by weeks close I was feeling a lot better about things and really enjoyed myself.
A sweet card from a student

I don't usually put much pressure on my birthday. All I ever really want is to just hang out with friends. About a week before my birthday I realized I hadn't made any plans yet, so I threw up a quick dinner and drinks event on facebook and invited a bunch of people to come along.

In the end it never worked out, and I ended up staying at home all weekend and letting myself get into a very troubling mood. Seeing friends out doing stuff I wasn't invited to, when I really wanted to be around friends and celebrate my birthday, it magnified feelings I was already having of not fitting in or having anyone around who liked or cared about me. 

During the summer I had a good friendship fizzle. I have a few theories of why, but the why doesn't really matter. I had what I thought of as a really good friend, and we stopped hanging out. I feel like I tried to keep it going as best I could, but my efforts at inviting them out and chatting felt pretty one sided. I never even got much of a reason as to why; no fight, or argument, nothing. I was left feeling pretty cut off and isolated. Getting into the new semester, I thought I was over it and moving on, but looking back I realize I was pretty down for most of September, and feeling pretty insecure about a lot of things.

I knew I had 'friends' - In a JET community like this there will always be a few people who you can consider your friends and that are always around. But I'll be the first to admit that I'm a needy person. I'm far more the type to value one good and close friendship over having a dozen of friends who are just 'there'.
I realized that's what I have been lacking and why I was feeling so down since the summer, even though I didn't want to admit it. Sure, I had people invite me to things - group parties and dinners. But almost no one invited me to the small things. The 'lets just hang out and chat' things, or the 'hey wanna order pizza and watch a movie?' kinda things. I didn't have anyone I felt close to - I had a lot of friends, but they all felt an arms distance away from me. I was letting the lack of a close friend really get to me, making me feel like I had no one at all. I had a terrible night; crying and not sleeping much.

The next day was a bit better, though I just tried to keep myself busy with cleaning and shopping and not thinking about how I felt the night before. It worked fairly well, and by the end of the day I wasn't feeling nearly as bad anymore.

Monday was a small (Canadian) Thanksgiving party held by a fellow Canadian JET who lives in the other ALT community in Kobe. Shes a good friend, but it's hard for us to be close, as the distance between the communities and our work hours make regular hang outs a bit difficult.
But, at the party - which had nothing to do with my birthday - she surprised me with a cake. A cute, lopsided icing, delicious cake. 
Best Cake Ever
It made my day. It was such a simple thing, but it really made me realize that I did have friends who cared no matter what it felt like sometimes. 

On my actual birthday, she along with two others, came out for a small birthday dinner with me as well. It was nice, small - exactly what I wanted. It really did the trick for picking me up after the weekend breakdown. I don't think they even realize how much these little things meant to me at the time.

The weekend after my birthday, me and my boyfriend had our first overnight trip planned - to Wakayama. Wakayama is a prefecture pretty close to Kobe - just south of Osaka, next to Nara prefecture. Specifically we stayed in Shirahama, a town famous for onsen and beaches.
Welcome to Wakayama!
We drove from Kobe, which took about three hours or so. Day one was going to Adventure World - a zoo, theme park, water world, petting zoo hybrid theme park. I love zoos and animals so it was very fun. There were so many different animals there to see, and the shows were amazing.

We had a really nice dinner at a restaurant in the city - all local fish and dishes that were amazing.

That night we stayed at a nice hotel that had a bath on the balcony as well as access to the large baths downstairs which you could reserve. We stayed up chatting, listening to music, enjoying the nice combination of the hot bath and cool autumn ocean air.
View from our room

The next day we were planning on going to a nearby island for hiking, but we ended up getting going a bit late and the ferry times didn't leave much time for hiking, so we decided to just check out Sandanbeki - famous and stunningly beautiful cliffs in Shirahama. 

Then we drove back the long way to Kobe, stopping for delicious ramen and enjoying the mountain views. By the time we got back to Kobe I was exhausted - I don't think I would have survived the hiking if we had ended up going. 

I'm so thankful for that trip - even if it was short. My boyfriend rarely gets time off work and it was such a nice and relaxing and fun trip - a perfect way to end my week.

 My birthday turned out pretty good, and I'm so thankful for the people who helped turn it around for me; my amazing friends and boyfriend who were there for me when it felt like I had no one.
I still have rough days and feel lonely sometimes - but I'm getting better at cherishing the alone time I have and becoming better company for myself.