Musings about Japan and life as a human, a cosplayer, a minority, a music lover, an English teacher.

2013: Recap

2013 was a really good year. It started out rough at first, around January/February when I got sick during a class I was teaching and laid in the school health room for the rest of the day. I realized that my body never got used to the Japanese diet of rice, rice, rice, and that I wasn’t eating a balanced diet. From that day on I decided that I would make sure to eat a salad at least 3 times a week, and it turned out to be the right decision.

I also decided that I would take a teaching course. CLAIR, the organization that sent me to teach in Ono over 3 years ago, was offering grants to people who wanted to take an online TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course. I decided that I’d tackle it, since I could put it on my resume and also learn how to become a better teacher, even though I’m not sure that it’s what I want to do for the rest of my life. My application was accepted and I finished the course a few weeks ago.

I told myself that 2013 was supposed to be the year of music, and it was. I think I’ve been to more concerts this year than any other. I saw MUCC, Bonnie Pink, exist†trace, G-DRAGON, VAMPS, girugamesh, and BIGBANG. But other than music, I was also able to finish not one, but TWO costumes for Otakon (though I admit they were pretty easy compared to past costumes). I also did three fashion photoshoots and my first cosplay photoshoot.

This year was also the most I’ve spent making friends with Japanese people. I’ve always found it difficult to do; maybe I’m just not very approachable. But I did make a few acquaintances, even though a lot of them want to practice their English (despite me trying to practice Japanese). I was supposed to be studying Japanese as well, but my closest Japanese friend and conversation partner ended up going to New Zealand to study English. Come back!!! 😦

I also went through a phase of being lonely and depressed about approaching 25 and still being single. I tried going on dates, but it didn’t really make me feel that much more hopeful. I distracted myself with cosplay, shopping, and looking at photos of my niece, Kaylee, who was born last September.

Then something happened. My grandfather passed away in November. I couldn’t believe it. When I talked to him over the phone in August, there was a tiny voice in my head that told me that that could be the last time I ever talk to him. I’m glad I heard that voice, because I was able to say “I love you, Grandpa” and not feel any regrets about my decision to work overseas. I was also able to see my newborn niece much earlier than expected, which was very much a blessing behind the sorrowful loss of my grandfather.

Going home for a week and a half gave me a much-needed break from work, which was stressing me out more than anything else. I had handled a big elementary school just the year before, so I didn’t understand why this year was giving me such a hard time. When I came back, I decided that I needed to change my outlook on life. I decided not to pursue dates anymore and just focused on my teaching course, and work. But weekends that were supposed to be fun—and they were—were also starting to feel like obligations, just because I so desperately needed to rest and have some alone time. But I plowed through every single day, all the way into the last day of classes.

I have my friend Talia to thank for many of the good things in the year. Her enthusiasm got me into BIGBANG (my new favorite Korean boy band since g.o.d broke up in 2006), “Free!” that anime with all the shirtless high school boys swimming, and Attack on Titan, the super-hyped up series that absolutely deserves to be hyped up. She’s the reason why I’ve been buying so many things with Levi’s face on it. ❤

By the time I turned 25 on December 16th, instead of feeling sad about being single, I was GLAD to still be single. All of the marriage proposals, engagements, weddings, and babies that popped up on my Facebook newsfeed were nice to look at, and I congratulate everyone as they take new steps in their adult lives. But I realized that everything I’ve accomplished this year may not have been possible if I had been caught up in a relationship, and that I NEEDED to be single and have that freedom in order to do what I wanted and needed to do. Instead of wanting what “everyone else” seems to be getting, I’m very blessed to have an alternative. Single life is wonderful at 25, and I hope it gets even better by the time I’m 26.


16 responses to “2013: Recap

  1. majic January 6, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    Take your time, u need to really know and understand the guy u say I do to. U need to understand those words hold a much deeper meaning. It’s not just about what u see but what u truly believe. Marriage is a 3 way union. Mine, Body and Soul. Then God, u and him. Then u, him and the devil. There is a dark force on this planet that will be here until God removes it. That dark force will do everything within it’s power to make sure that marrige never last. U both must understand the marriage will be tested, each of u will be tested. Keep your marriage out of the physical world and u stand a chance. Everything u get comes thru God, even what the devil give u. The devil has the power to make nothing, but he will ask God to let him test u. U have to learn to figure out the purpose of the gift and from whom it really came. In short, the devil answers prayers too! Continue to let details lead u my friend and u’ll never go wrong.

  2. Brian January 8, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    Shocking that you are single, very very shocking. Oh by the way, get ready to cut out most of your hobbies when you do finally meet somebody.

    • sooyong January 9, 2014 at 1:28 am

      Well, if he has similar hobbies, we can enjoy them together. If his hobbies don’t involve me, we can enjoy ours separately. It’s when children come in that I’d have to give up a lot of hobbies, and I have NO desire for children of my own.

  3. jackrose January 13, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    Hey sooyong after reading your blog and profile maybe you’re right you are asking the wrong questions, I have lived in Japan for 9yrs and I know for a fact that Japanese are traditional, family oriented and goal driven. And this last sentenced that you wrote “I hove NO desire for children of my own.” is pretty much a kill switch. Not going to dig into your past but it sounds to me that your running from something.

    • sooyong January 14, 2014 at 3:07 am

      I have no idea how you connected “no desire for children” to “running from something.” Are you trying to suggest that having children is inevitable? Because it’s not.

      • jackrose January 14, 2014 at 7:56 am

        I was not expecting a reply this quickly I must hit a nerve. Don’t take it personally but, you said it yourself you don’t know where you fit in, African/Korean living and teaching in japan why not Korea? instead you chose to Japan. running from something defines many meanings and you’re right having children is inevitable unless you become a Nun C: Nice pictures by the way and your categories suits you. Cosplay, Model, DevianArt. Good day lady.

      • sooyong January 14, 2014 at 8:36 am

        The quick reply is due to what time of day it is here. I’m awake, so I’m replying.

        Since you don’t know my background, I’ll explain why I chose Japan over Korea. But first, I prefer not to be called “African,” because I’m not African. My dad is Black American. We have the same extremely distant ties to Africa as many other Black American families. I do not share a cultural connection with any nation or tribe in Africa, whereas my mother was born and raised in South Korea.

        Why did I choose Japan and not Korea, you ask? Just because I’m half-Korean does not mean I’m automatically interested in living there. I knew a half-Black, half-Japanese acquaintance in college who spoke NO Japanese but was in love with Korean culture. Just because we share genealogical ties with a country doesn’t mean we’d choose that country over any other. That is the point of headlining my ethnic background and my personal interests. You’re one of very many people who have asked me, “Why not Korea?” So here’s my answer:

        Japanese pop culture took root in my life from a young age because my dad introduced me to anime. He’s into science fiction, and they played anime on the Sci-Fi channel. One day, when I was 5 years old, he was watching TV while getting ready for work and saw an episode of Sailor Moon. He recorded it for me and let me watch it. I fell in love without even knowing it was Japanese. As I got older, I realized that Sailor Moon was “anime” and that there were other anime titles, and they came from Japan. Listening to music from anime led to me listening to other Japanese music. I wanted to sing along, so learning the language came naturally after that. And of course, living in Japan gives me an opportunity to use the language, meet new people, and experience the culture.

        I didn’t choose to live and teach in Japan “instead” of Korea, because Korea was never a consideration. My mom, unlike other Korean mothers, did not try to push the “Korean” identity on me. She had no problem with the fact that Japan was practically my life. There was never any question that being in Japan was my dream.

        You have a very narrow outlook on life if you believe that it is inevitable for a woman to have children. I acknowledge that I might change my mind, because I’m human and don’t know the future, but I also know how I feel right now about having a family, and right now I don’t have any ambitions to start a family. If I change my mind, it’s not because it’s inevitable, it’s simply because I changed my mind.

      • jackrose January 14, 2014 at 3:46 pm

        You know what I like you I don’t even know you and I like you as person. Strong will, Confident, Cultured, and stubborn I might add. But you’re not going to describe me as a person who have a very narrow outlook on life when I’m about freedom of choice specially for any female. Since I’m narrow minded I guess your closed minded. Inevitable, come on now every body knows nothing in life is set in stone that you can only react to the change presented in front of you ambitious or not life will through you a curve ball that will change your whole outlook in life you should know that.

        Remember when I told the running away from something has many different meaning? thank you for hitting the nail in the coffin. This is your quote “I prefer not to be called “African,” because I’m not African. My dad is Black American. First of all, I hope to god that your don’t introduce yourself as a Black/Korean American that’s likes belittling your better half, you know for someone who is cultured you sure think one dimensional of yourself. Yes, you and your father may not be from Africa, or share a cultural connection with any nation or tribe in Africa but, your ancestor and bloodline is African sorry to sound hostile it’s just when I’m writing this I’m thinking of my step dad who is African-American.

        Look this is turning into a war of words, I’m glad I trolled into your page because I don’t know of anyone who is 26 living abroad and teaching English in the Island of the Rising Sun. Just have to add Sailor Moon my goodness I used to watch that when my family was station in Japan many moons ago. Oh by the way since you like Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) you may want to check out Sword Art Online really good anime just in-case you haven’t seen it.

      • sooyong January 14, 2014 at 5:13 pm

        Of course I must have a bloodline tracing back to Africa. But I think we’re having a disagreement on choice of words. To me, using the term “African” is heavily inaccurate when I have friends whose parents immigrated from Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe, etc. They have a much stronger connection than I do to Africa.

        I’m not sure what you mean by “belitting my better half,” because I consider my two halves to be equal. Is it that you personally don’t like the word “black” to refer to Americans of darker skin tones? In that case, it’s a matter of word choice, not of my personal feelings about my background. Many people in America refer to themselves as “black,” others say “African American.” I just prefer to say the first one.

        Lastly, you must have missed the last part of my previous comment, because I acknowledged that I COULD change my mind about kids. I never said anything was set in stone. So it makes no sense that I could be closed-minded if I’ve already said that there are other possibilities for the future.

      • jackrose January 14, 2014 at 6:18 pm

        You know what Sooyong your right, it was a pleasure going back and forth with you. maybe its just me….. 強いままでいる

      • sooyong January 14, 2014 at 6:38 pm

        One of my favorite quotes by George Orwell: “If thought can corrupt language, then language can corrupt thought.” Words can sometimes get in the way of the point we’re trying to make, and sometimes conflicts that wouldn’t have started in the first place come up because of misunderstanding.

        Your comments are the most interesting thing that have happened on my blog, so I appreciate it. Also, I do know about Sword Art Online but just haven’t gotten around to watching it. Maybe that will be the next title on my list.

      • jackrose January 14, 2014 at 9:11 pm

        Thank you miss lady I appreciate that. Do you know how I found your blog I’m pretty sure we were looking for the same subject asking the same question why? then I remember when drastic event happen to someone you look at life differently. I remember reading on your blog than when you spoke to your grandfather you knew that will be the last time and you were glad you got a chance to say you love him. Unlike me I never got the chance to say goodbye because I was in the different state training for the military.

        If I wasn’t attending college trying to achieve a b/s for computer science and financially stable my goodness I will be traveling to Tokyo, Thailand, China just to name a few places. You are an attractive female I’m pretty sure you will find someone when time comes. Just make sure the person is KIND. Yes you should difinitely check out Sword Art Online careful thought its a tear jerk-er. And if you still feel lonely after this back and forth between me and you i don’t know what to tell you… Atode Utsukushii

  4. RenshuuJin January 14, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    One thing I realize not only from the exchange of comments above is that the topic of race/ethnicity appears quite often, and well it is your blog so you can write what you want. I sometimes do wonder if though you have had many unfortunate situations because of your race. I do recall an earlier blog where you said that this guy didn’t like you ’cause you were only part Korean or something and also a couple posts back there was a negative comment about you cause you were part Black, part Korean person living in Japan. Is this really still going on today, because it’s time people stop this nonsense.

    My mom is black and my dad is mixed (his dad was white and mom black) and I ended up more or less a complexion similar to yours and well I can’t really change that, also I really enjoy who I am!

    I live in the Caribbean and well people call people pretty much like this: if he is really fair skinned (could be mixed as well) – “white” boy, we call Indian persons “coolie” , Asians are “yellow” and Sooyong you and I are “Red”, and trust me there are so much more. One thing however that I never did like is that once you are an Asian person here, people just automatically assume you’re Chinese (we say “chiney”) even if you aren’t actually from China. That’s just the way it is here, my friends and I even joke about it sometimes.

    Also, you are one of the rare women that say they don’t want children. I only know one woman (she’s 23 now) and she really doesn’t want children AT ALL. As for me, a 22 year old male, I certainly don’t want children and I’ve been saying that since I was 18. I always told my friends this and they always said more or less “You say that now but when you get older you will change your mind” well I’m older and I still don’t want any.

    You say that “single life is wonderful” now, but I just have the feeling that you really, really want a significant other and to be in a relationship and some days, it’s all you can think of probably resulting in your being lonely and depressed for some time, with regards to that I can relate with you on that. Being single has non of the stress that may come with a relationship, yet at times I really wish that I had “that person” I could just really talk to as well, and I usually just end up talking to God and end up laughing and saying “Yup, I’m glad I’m single!” afterwards.

    However I can’t imagine the difficulty with being in a foreign country so your situation may be even more difficult than the average person. Also do you intend to find a relationship with a Japanese/ Asian person?, when I say that I mean are you ONLY looking for a person that is specifically Japanese or Asian? if that’s the case then I really have nothing to input there, sorry.

    Lastly this is waaay off topic, you have really long hair right?, when you where wigs for cosplay and such where does it go!? Obviously its there but how does it not like…show or be noticeable. I always wondered how you but on that short blue wig and have all that long hair under it and still look normal. As a guy I’m so confused lol.

    Didn’t know I wrote such a long “novel” sorry ’bout that!

    • sooyong January 14, 2014 at 5:23 pm

      Of course I’d want a significant other, otherwise I would never admit to it, lol. There are times when I feel lonely, but when I think hard about it, I realize all of the things that I wouldn’t be able to do if I were in a relationship. I know so many people who are married and have kids and they talk about things they wish they can do and places they wish they could go. That’s when I feel thankful that I haven’t found anyone yet. Relationships are hard work, children are hard work. Of course they can be fulfilling, but at this stage in my life, I don’t want to sacrifice what I have now to get something that I’m not even sure I really want or DON’T want.

      I’m mostly interested in dating a Japanese person, but I’m not really ruling out anyone else. Right now I’ve shifted my priorities to cosplay, so it’s not something I’m thinking about right now.

      And I get asked about my hair a lot, lol. When it’s straightened, it can be flattened on top of my head very easily. I use a wig cap to hold it down. The styling of the wig makes it look normal, but in reality, putting my hair up adds about 1cm to the size of my head.

  5. majic January 22, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    It seems Jackrose got under your skin a bit. (History class) U may choose to label yourself whatever u want but u are African. U may have been born on American dirt but u are African. Japanese, Korean, Asian bloodline leads back to Africa. If u didn’t straighten your hair u’d look more the part? Make do doubt u are a beautiful mixed African but that black blood will drain from your body to the very last drop. Science will sign in on that! Kids may look different depending on daddy genes but u are a sista, attitude and all. Significant other, u are to young. There is so much to learn, see and do. U don’t even know who and what u are yet and u want someone else to figure that out for u, PLEASE! I love the Asian thing. U can’t relate to who u are because u were not taught, didn’t live in the land, your identity was given to u. U were robbed like many other African people living out of Africa. I fully understand, rather it be Korea or Japan, in your mind u can relate. Why? because u can see and feel it . Being African in America means nothing other than where u happen to be. Your true identity was either stolen, erased or forgotten. We become bits and peices of everyone else. U want to know where u come from go to Africa before its all gone, u want to know what u are look to God, he ain’t going no where. U can’t learn everything with your eyes. everything with

  6. Sophelia March 21, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    Heya, sorry to leave a comment completely unrelated to your post but I couldn’t see any contact info on your blog. I’m wondering if you have any interest in a carnival for Japan-related bloggers. This time I am opening up the possibility of submitting posts that have already been published, so if you have an old post that fits the theme and want to join in, just send me the url and a little “about” for your blog’s profile. I just ask that everyone who participates checks out and comments on at least a couple of the other participants’ posts. The whole idea is swapping ideas and making connections, after all!

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