29 October, 2009

Things about me that have changed

Someone pointed out yesterday that we've lived in Japan for almost a decade. Sounds imposing when you put it like that. I've have noticed a few things that I probably do differently to 10 years ago, and not just because I'm older!
  • I use my hands to illustrate some of my words, like numbers. This comes of learning another language and lacking confidence that people will understand your words. Interesting that it has translated over into English.
  • I've been told I speak softly (except when dealing with children who aren't responding). I don't think that this was particularly a characteristic of mine before I went to Japan. A couple of theories - possibly just Japanese. I wonder if it is also born of sticking out so much and trying to compensate by speaking softly?
  • I don't like my shoes on in the house, though possibly that was the case before.
  • I can tend to go over the top in humour or speaking my mind, just because I can.
  • I speak to people in lines, chat to bank employees, checkout chicks - just because I can!
  • I pay less attention to what others think. For years we've been living in another culture, with lots of people paying a lot of attention to us. In the end I've had to largely disregard them and get on with doing my own thing. Sounds weird, but here's an example; managing my kids in public. In Japan they attract a lot of attention in public, just because of the way they look. Dealing with bad behaviour in public is tricky in the face of that. I've had to block out the fact that lots of people are observing us and get on with managing my family as best I can.
  • Related to the above but slightly different - I've grown fairly comfortable with me (this is a sign of age too, I know). We are living lives so different from most of the people around us - here and in Japan - that we've had to find our own plimsoll lines. How much we can take on, when to say no, even what to feed my family, how to manage my own kids, and what my own role will be outside of my home-maker role. With so few people as role models it has not been easy and negative comparison with others is a potential trap.
Well, that is quite a few things, ranging from the surface to quite deep. Anyone who knew me before and now want to add their observations? We have had virtual strangers tell us they can tell we've lived in Japan, just from the way we carry ourselves! Scary!

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