But yet everything has changed.
Over the winter holidays, I was actually waiting in great anticipation for news of what my future would be like.
Would I stay at my job another year? Would I move out of my apartment? Would my roommate stay in Japan or return to America? Could I afford any of these changes (or non-changes)?
Once I started getting answers, it really began to feel like a new year. Change.
It can be scary. It can be exciting. It can be daunting.
But there is always change.
This year, I find myself faced with all the cards I didn't want.
I'm working at my current job one more year, unable to quit without closing down an entire school. Just one of the prices of responsibility,.
My roommate has decided to return to America to be closer to her family. And I understand how important family is. As much as I want her to stay, I don't have the right to keep her here. But I will go back to living alone. Good roommates are hard to come by, and it takes a special person to be able to live with me.
We are moving out of our apartment in two months. There is a ton of stuff to do, things to get rid of, things to pack, and a small fear of where is the money for all of this going to come from.
Which apartment should I choose? What area do I want to live in? Do I want to move closer to work for the sake of a single year, or do I want to choose a place that would be more convenient for future employment options? Do I want to sacrifice space for cheaper rent so I might be able to attempt to save some money, or do I want to save my sanity by renting a larger space with a nicer bath/toilet options? If I get a place with a loft would I be able to use it with my knees in pain?
Fear of a new year... Being alone again, in an unchanging financial situation (only wait, it looks like the dollar is becoming stronger, which means more of my paycheck will be going to pay student loans instead of less. Am I a terrible person when I prefer economic hardships for the rest of the country just because it makes my loan payments a bit easier?), in a new place...
It's easy to become frustrated and stop and complain... It's not fair.
Why do the things I want to change not? Why do the things I want to keep change? Why do others have what I want?
It's not fair.
It's true. Life isn't fair.
It never was. I am no longer a child who petulantly demands fairness. Or at least I shouldn't be.
I've been listening to stories of other people. Reading tales. Remembering old friends. And it dawns on me.
Life isn't fair.
I reflect on stories of betrayal. People I could have been jealous of for seemingly fairy tale romances, left shattered and broken by the men who should have been protecting them. I hear of women who are more lonely after they are married than they ever were alone. Christians who suddenly loose their faith, betraying those who pledged their lives to them. Children growing up in broken, dysfunctional homes. Slavery still exists in this world. Children are exploited. Women are abused. There are people who can't eat. Children who only wish they could go to school. Girls who are shot because they want access to education. A woman younger than me who will have to deal with the fact that she will probably not live long enough to watch her two little girls grow up into women themselves because she has an inoperable brain tumor.
One of the things that really frustrates me when teaching Japanese children, is the fact that they don't appreciate what they have. They complain because they are forced to learn English. They think it's horrible they have to stay awake in class. It's terrible because they are not allowed to die their hair, or wear earings. And heaven forbid if the teachers tell them to pull up their pants or stop rolling up their skirts so short. They don't care about the girls on the other side of the world who fight to go to school and live in fear of being shot. They don't care that there are children who work in factories or rolling cigarets and get less to eat than what these kids skip for breakfast. But it's not fair when we ask them to turn in their homework.
Yes, all of these things frustrate me greatly, and I often lecture children about them.
And then Call Me a Hypocrite if I don't go around and do the exact same thing in my life.
Oh boo hoo, oh woe is me. Life is hard. Oh no, I'm single. Oh no, I don't have enough money. Oh no, I don't like my job perfectly. Poor poor me. Life is so unfair.
(please tell me you can read the sarcasm here.)
I personally know other women who are still single. I in fact know of three people exactly my age who are still single. That doesn't count those who are older than me either. But poor poor me.
Money is a little tight, but I still manage to get internet and ice cream and buy things with my favorite character design. Yet I know someone who lost quite a bit of weight because she couldn't afford to eat. There are people living in cardboard boxes, and I'm wondering if the next apartment will be big enough to hold all my stuff...
I enjoy my students and the freedom of my job, but I complain about the commute and the stress and fantasize about the "perfect" job. while there are people who can't get jobs, or who have jobs in factories where they are more like slaves than anything else and who have no option to change.
Life isn't fair.
And I'm insulting so many others if I think my life is more unfair than someone else's.
So maybe it's time for me to stop complaining about how unfair life is, and start trying to find things to be grateful for.
Unfairness is universal, and guaranteed. Kinda like death and taxes.
It's how we deal with our unfairness that matters, and exposes our true character.
I hope this time of of change and transition starts to expose a little more character improvement in me.
Even when life's not fair.
(On a side note, I will be busy with a lot of details with moving and such for a while, so I might not post much. Then again, I might have plenty of things to process and stress to relieve, so I might post more... Who knows. Be warned. I might be really wordy about moving stuff, or I might be really silent. And one last sobering recognition of unfairness: turns out I'm moving into a new place (yet to be decided) on the anniversary of the Great Earthquake that took the homes of so many people. It's a bit sobering to think about. Prayers for wise decision making and being open to God's guidance and graceful acceptance of "unfairness" would also be appreciated.)