Today reminds me of the first day I reached Japan.
March 11 is actually the 4th yr. anniversary of the Fukushima Tragedy / Great Tohoku Earthquake. I can still vividly remember the day I learned from the news about the earthquake... Around that time, I just got my student visa that I had been waiting for years. And I got so scared because my brother was living alone (although he's already in Saitama by that time). I got really affected by the news because I've always loved Japan ever since. This country, the people, and its rich culture... these were all my escape during classes while I was daydreaming. Only a few can ever understand how "Japan" has inspired me to dream big ever since I was young (unless you are also someone who dreams about living here too~). To reach for my cherry blossom dreams, even if my background or circumstances were both screaming "No, it's impossible!" to me.. that personal goal I had was my everything. That's how big it was for me. ^^v
Japan has taught me to never give up on my crazy dreams that people used to laugh at. To those who didn't know, I actually had my first visa (Visiting Relative) rejected. And it was during the time when I was still a student, risking half a year without attending school. For a girl who would try her best to NOT get late in class, it was a huge deal. And then I tried applying for a scholarship, aiming to pass the test.. but I didn't pass the test because it involved a lot of mathematical equations. And then finally, God decided to hear me. You may read the full story here before. ^^
Backreading my posts just feels so weird. It feels like I have changed so much, during these 3 years (and turning four!). And this is why I thought of writing a letter to myself (Kaila 3+ years ago). That time, I was just 20 yrs. old and fresh from the comfort zones of Manila. : )
A Letter To Kaila (before she leaves Manila to pursue her dreams)
Wow, you are finally going to live your lifelong dream.
Who would have thought? Who would have thought that all your "Someday, I will go to Japan!" side comments during dinner / meals with your mom and dad are actually about to come true? After applying for LOA in the university and getting a denied visa.. after failing the scholarship you have prepared so much for.... almost about to give up, but now.. you are about to arrive there in a few hours!. Only a few really believed that you could. For all the nights you cried out of frustration, wanting to go to Japan and go all out there without the fear of being judged.. with family debts piling up one on top of the other.. you just want to contribute, pay back as soon as you can when you are finally "ready"...
You've just finished your thesis with the best team, and it's your first time to be part of the dean's list after four long years in the university (always a C+ student in all her minor subjects). Congratulations! You are really at your happiest these days. You also have great friends around you. It's just so hard to leave.. to leave familiarity for the unknown. But you know, you are bound for something great, you just don't know what exactly it will be. You just know that you have to leave and chase your heart in somewhere foreign. Somewhere new, somewhere that can be also called home.
I hope that as you embark on this journey, may your optimism and fighting spirit do not waver, even if times get difficult. Do not let your smiles turn into frowns that last days.
May you accept that for every great thing, challenges are bound to happen. And challenges are masked in failures. When you feel sad, just cry it out. When you feel homesick and you just want to go back home, remember the reason why you have to do your best here. You have to remember that you have to help back, as soon as possible. That you have to work hard enough and pass the baton. You are not being blessed with this achieved dream without any reason. The Guy Up There also wants you to become an instrument to help someone, in some way or the other.
I hope that three years from now, you will find it hard to recognize the current Kaila of 2011. I hope that you change and grow for the better.
I know that you are a very stubborn and hard-headed girl. You are a weird crybaby who cries even when she's at her happiest. Don't try to change your quirkiness. Those little things make you, you. You are definitely crazy at times. Sometimes you cannot even understand yourself when you're PMS-ing, but it is okay.. you are still a human after all, Kaila. You probably appear as "cold" in front of some, but deep inside, you are actually sensitive person who just genuinely wants to help out and make people happy through small and big things.
I hope that during your adventure, you will accept that not everyone you meet will stay. Some will leave, but they will also leave learnings that you should willingly accept. Do not depend your happiness on someone, learn how to love yourself and set standards. Be grateful and appreciative... because truly happy people are happy because they are grateful, and not the other way around.
There will be people who will take advantage of your sincerity, kindness.. do not make those events and situations harden your heart. No matter how heartbroken because of failed relationships and friendships, do not make them turn you into a bitter and untrusting person forever. As you grow older, you will find yourself not wanting to trust the world, and having zero energy of introducing yourself again. Please.. don't. Instead, surround yourself with people who will lift you higher, people who genuinely love you with all of your rough edges.. through good and worst times. You must learn how to give care the right way. Do not care what they think about you.. because you don't have to be liked by everyone. But still, give care and do not be indifferent when you know you can do something and you have the power to do so. You cannot control everything happening around you, but you can control your mind.
You have big and really crazy dreams. Do remember that dreams cannot stay as dreams forever, so make every single day count. You do not know what the future holds, so take care of your present. Cherish it, appreciate the good and bad days, hug and treat yourself from time to time. When it rains, be grateful. Flowers and trees do not grow and become tall and beautiful without rain. We all need rains and storms if we want rainbows.
No matter how small you feel you are, just know that it is only your mind telling you that. Your heart already knows that you are bound to make big waves. Breathe, and say over and over again that- "I can do it!" : )
I know that deep inside, you really want to make a difference. You do not know how, but just try everything out, and see which works the best for you. Try and try, fail and learn, experience and enjoy... laugh. Battle the bad days with your ever dry sense of humor. : )
Do things with pure dedication and passion. Do not let money and financial success .. and all the superficial things in life make you feel validated. Do things not because people will reward you with compliments, and such. Do things because your heart is telling you that you have to do so. Life is more than impressing people. Live your ways meaningfully, and aim to become an inspiration and commit to that goal. I know that you were born to lead, even if you don't have the brains that society expects from a "leader"... just be yourself and lead others by example and not by titles. I know that you want to be discovered to be great in your craft. Do not let the eyeballs / fame get into your head. Stay humble and grounded and remember the person who you have always been. Someone who is always seeking to learn... and someone who does not treat other people differently based on status.
When people use or attempt to use you, shrug it off. Keep it classy and be thankful that you are not like them. There will be times when you achieve things and you will be tempted to inflate your ego... don't. I hope that success will not turn you into another person that is worse than before.
There are days and long periods of time when you will feel really down and unmotivated. No worries, Kaila.. it is perfectly normal. But do not stay there for long. Just take your time dutifully and keep in mind that there's a time for both personal hibernation and recovery. Chin up, smile, and let your inner confidence speak for yourself.
Believe in yourself, stick to your principles, fight for what you strongly believe in, don't let people step on you. When people dislike you for being you, respond with acceptance and a smile rather than hate and reaction. Don't hold grudges, move on, and just do your own thing. : ) Always smile, Kailaroo. And with or without that eyeliner, remember that you are beautiful. : )
I don't know what else to say, but there is one thing for sure that I want to tell you.
You are an amazing girl, and you will be more amazing for sure.