I have been asked this question before I left for Japan and I couldn’t really think of anything. I probably said something along the lines of not making friends or being lonely or not being able to communicate or hating the job or my schools hating me or something like that. All were fears that were rational about leaving to a new culture outside of your comfort zone, but can be dealt with.
But now that I have been here for almost three months and adjusting to life here (and looking forward to a potential future here), I have come to realize what my actual fear is (and probably my fear overall). I don’t have a fear of the things that most Americans seem to have nowadays (public speaking, death by random shooting, internet safety, having my identity stolen, or walking alone at night [Yahoo! Health]). I taught public speaking for a living and I am an ALT now so public speaking is not a fear. Random shootings don’t happen here or rather not as often in America either so that wasn’t a fear. Internet safety… it isn’t a fear since what’s the worse someone can find about me? Identity stolen, been there, done that. Walking alone at night…again, not a fear I have here in Japan since statistically, the chances of me getting attacked are lower here than in the states. Yeah, I still wouldn’t but to call it a fear, hmmm not really.
What I see as a fear is an emotion that is felt due to a potential danger, threat, or pain. What makes it different for me is the likelihood of that potential danger, threat, or pain. I ask myself two questions and take it from there: how likely is this thing going to hurt me? And what’s the worse that could happen? The answer to those two questions will determine if I am fearful of it or not. If the worse that could happen is death, but the likelihood of whatever it is that is going to kill me is low, then why fear it? (Referring to walking alone at night and random shootings) And even the opposite; if the likelihood is higher but the outcome isn’t that bad, then why fear it? (Referring to internet safety, identity stolen, and public speaking)
But it isn’t that we fear these things happening to us due to the horrible outcome, but really how would it harm us emotionally. Physically, the worse that could happen to anyone is death but when you die, you don’t feel anything anymore. You have no more worries, no more pain. It isn’t death that you fear, but the feeling of causing emotional pain to those around you.
We are afraid of public speaking not because of the act, but because we are afraid of what people think of us. We are afraid of judgment, not public speaking.
We are afraid of random shootings not because of dying, but because we are afraid that we will cause our friends or family pain of losing us or that we may lose someone precious to us. So we fear the loss, not random shootings (or even death for that matter).
We are afraid of the lack of internet safety, although it doesn’t cause us physical pain, because of the lack of security and privacy we feel. We are afraid of being vulnerable.
We are afraid of getting our identity stolen for the same reasons. We are not caused physical pain, but emotional in a sense of lack of security and the feeling that someone out there stole from you. Violated you. Took something that was yours without asking and you couldn’t do anything about it. We are afraid of being vulnerable.
We are afraid of walking alone at night not because of the act, but because of what could potentially happen to us. Something could be waiting in the shadows that could potentially cause you physical harm. We are afraid of the unknown, not walking alone at night.
So what does this have to do with Japan? What fear do I have (because I do have one)?
I am afraid of being forgotten.
If I answer my own questions (likelihood and worst case scenario), the answers are what I fear. Is the likelihood high because I am in another country, away from my friends and family back home? The longer I stay here, the more likely it will be to be forgotten by those back home. What is the worst case scenario? Well, I am forgotten. Doesn’t hurt anyone else except me. I feel the hurt from it and me alone.
I fear being forgotten. I fear being alone.
What is your biggest fear living abroad? Is it tied to your life back home or is it tied to your new life here? I really want to know so please let me know.