Lunch with a Friend
Sitting across from my friend under the warm summer sun, I couldn’t help feeling grateful for her presence in my life. She’s one of those people who clearly respects and loves herself, and I feel honored that she considers me a friend.
She’s a new mom, and times have been hard for her because her little one is not sleeping during the day and gets really fussy when she puts him down. She’s worried about getting him into a daycare before she returns to work in two months. She’s flustered and she’s exhausted, but she still manages to see the positive aspects of life as a new mom. She mentions how happy she is about his milestones, but at the same time, she’s worried about his not gaining as much weight as she’d like. As we talk, I think this is how someone who loves themselves behaves. She’s authentic and unapologetic about her emotions. She’s in a space where I aspire to be some day.
I read somewhere that if you want to be a certain way, or work in a certain profession, you should surround yourself with people who have the qualities and traits to which you aspire. Being around successful people can make you successful. I believe it. Being around my self-confident friend inspires me to be confident as well. I love that I have a friend with whom I can talk about work, life, and motherhood. After listening to her concerns about her son, I discuss my concerns about my daughter, and my friend listens with a sympathetic ear offering perspectives of which I hadn’t thought. I feel reassured and less critical of my choices hearing her perspective and getting her feedback. Our conversation comes to a natural end, and hungry for lunch, she recommends an interesting restaurant where we can grab a bite to eat.
After a delicious lunch and more light conversation about healthy recipes, we part ways promising to see each other again soon. As I made my way home, I thought with deep appreciation how this friendship is exactly what I’ve always wanted, and it didn’t just happen. I cultivated this friendship keeping in touch, always joining in on girls night out, and checking in every once in a while. I’m also more myself in this friendship. I tell myself this not to boast or brag, but to remind myself that I am meeting my needs, and I am taking care of myself more than I give myself credit for. Friendships like this are good for the soul. They are life affirming and enriching, and most importantly, they are possible.
Lately, I’ve been spending too much time focusing on where I’d like to be instead of appreciating where I am. Today’s lunch served as a gentle reminder that things are not bad, in fact, they are quite pleasant. In fact, spending time with my friend made me think I could make life in Japan work.I could focus on the relationships that uplift and sustain me and my family, and continue to build a life here.
It’s difficult to decide between two life paths when both have advantages. On the one hand, staying in Japan means strengthening existing friendships and cultivating new ones; there is the possibility to build a community. On the other hand, returning to North America means reconnecting with family, being able to communicate fully, and a promising new career path. For my children, it means growing up with their cousins and spending birthdays and holidays with their aunts, uncles, and grandparents; something I want so much for them. Two appealing prospects for the future and I can only choose one.
Before today’s little reminder, I believed leaving Japan was the answer. I believed that I was finally ready for the next step; eager to start the next chapter in my life. When I think about returning to North America, my heart sings. When I think about staying in Japan, there is a sense of nostalgia and a twinge of regret. That sense of regret tells me that its my ego that wants to stay. There is a sense of failure when I think of leaving, as if I couldn’t hack it. So, before I can leave Japan, I’ve got to get square with that.
This afternoon, I felt torn between where I’ve been and where I’d like to go. It’s a confusing and frustrating feeling, but I’m willing to sit with it. I’m willing to experience what it’s like to be torn until I’m ready to move on, like my dear friend I’m willing to have those emotions with no apologies. In the mean time, I’ll cherish moments like today spending time with a friend who loves and appreciates me for who I am, and who makes staying in Japan an appealing option.