This whole journey has been a roller coaster ride from the beginning. Starting from the application process and getting all of the paperwork done to getting upgraded to the short-list has put me on a ride of ups and downs. Not just with myself, but with my family and friends as well.
When I told my few closest friends that I was leaving, some took it well…others did not. I’m not saying that they were mean about it, but they did not seem all that thrilled that I was going. First person I told was my boss and she was ecstatic about it. She wrote me a recommendation letter and has asked me about it since the results came out in April. She was a little sad because I would be gone for a year and she had so much planned for me to do, but I assured her that I will be coming back.
The second person I told was my mom. I couldn’t call her because she was at work, so I sent her a text instead. It wasn’t until later where I got a response with “omg”. I get home that night and we talk about it a little, but she didn’t seem thrilled about the idea. She kept asking me questions about “well what about your thesis?” “you have to finish your thesis before you leave” “are you going alone?” Blah blah blah, basically making me a little fearful about going. But I took it as yes, my thesis will be done by then because now I have a goal and real deadline to work towards. I didn’t have one before and I had it in my mind to just putt around until it was done. But now that there is a deadline deadline, I feel like I have to get it done before I leave. Basically, it was the push I needed to finish my thesis.
But that night…that night broke my heart. I was laying in my bed and she comes in and her eyes are red and she’s sniffling. At first, I thought she was sick so I said “oh, you’re sick?” But I soon realized that she was not sick and she had been crying. It hurt to see my mother cry… it really did. I am an only child and I have never lived on my own before or been apart from my parents for longer than a month. Deep down, she was probably happy for me, but at that moment, she was sad because I would be gone for a year. I can guarantee she will have severe empty nest syndrome, which made it my plan to make sure that my boyfriend is available for her when she needs someone to help with something.
Speaking of boyfriend, he was the third person I told. Again…not too thrilled. In the months leading up to that moment, I had been sad and mopping around because of my interview and position and he was there to comfort me and tell me that I can just apply next year or to keep faith that I will get upgraded. He supported me in this journey and even though there have been fights about if I was gone for a year, what would happen to us, we made it through and now see it as an opportunity to grow separately and together. Same with my parents, I had never been apart from my boyfriend for longer than a month. We have been together for almost seven years (seven in October) and we know we are going to spend the rest of our lives together. But when I told him that I was upgraded…his response wasn’t a super exciting CONGRATULATIONS! Or anything like that. He was feeling bittersweet about the whole situation because while he does want me to go to fulfill my dream, he also doesn’t because we would be apart for a year. He is basically my other half and I am leaving him behind to take care of my parents. Part of me will be missing in Japan, but at least a part of me will stay at home.
But that’s not the point of this story… Yes, these people support me in my goals and don’t want me to go but at the same time, want me to go. But now can I leave them behind? Can I move forward and be able to be apart from them, thousands of miles away, in another country, for a year? Without being in constant contact or at a stone’s throw away. An instance last night made me question if I can go to Japan or not.
Last night, my dad had a bad leg cramp and he fell and hit his head on the night stand, cutting his head. I heard it from downstairs, so I went upstairs to see what happened and I see my mom holding onto my dad’s head with blood all over her hands, my dad’s hands, and on the bed and floor. I quickly went to get hand cloths to give to my mom to stop the bleeding. Seeing her panic and cry made me panic and cry. I tried to stay collected and find some gauze and band-aids to give to my dad to plug up the cut. What made me question my departure was cleaning up the blood that was on some weights on the floor. As I was cleaning them, I started to cry even harder. I kept thinking to myself, “how can I leave for a year and leave my parents behind like this?” “What if something happens while I’m gone and I can’t do anything to stop it or help?” “What if the worst happens to my parents…?” I told my mom, “I don’t think I can go to Japan anymore” and she said, “no, it’s okay. I will just be extra careful and look over your dad more”. Still…that didn’t make me feel any better.
When I finished cleaning the blood, I went back downstairs and my boyfriend was there to comfort me. I immediately just burst into a waterfall of tears on him, told him what happened, and told them that how can I leave my parents behind. He did his best to comfort me and tell me that maybe my dad should go to a doctor to make sure he doesn’t have a concussion. Oh boy would I love for my dad to do that, but he insists that he’s fine. I only hope that my mom can convince him to go to a doctor soon to at least get it checked out. If not, then I will make him myself to get it checked out for me.
After the excitement of the accident wore off and the adrenaline wore off, I was able to think more logically about the whole situation. My mom had calmed down too, so that made me feel a little bit better (again, I hate seeing my mom cry). I was talking through the situation with my boyfriend and we came to the conclusion that no matter where I was in this world, I could not have stopped that incident from happening. Even if we were out at the movies or at our friend’s apartment, I was not at home and had no power in helping. The only difference between staying here and being in Japan is the proximity. And even then, if an accident or something happened where I needed to be home soon, trust me, I will take the next flight out to come home. I would only be a day away from getting back home. And I would have to deal with this again when I leave to pursue a Ph.D degree. If I am in another state, I would have to do the same thing.
Bottom line: no matter where I am in the world, accidents happen whether I am in the same house or not. I can’t do anything to prevent them, only react to them. Yes, I will be worried sick about my parents and I plan to have my boyfriend look after them and be in contact with them, but I can’t be afraid. Plus, my dad would want me to go.
So keep that in mind if you are either planning on applying to go to Japan or already going to Japan. It’s not just you who is leaving. You are also leaving behind the people who love and care about you. It’s going to be hard and instances will happen that make you question your departure, but know that it would have happened anyway, whether you were there or not.
(Haha in case you didn’t catch it, I’m still going to Japan. Momentary lapse of judgment, but I am fine now. And I will keep you updated on the status of my parents)