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  • rio

three ways i look out for myself



I have recently decided to focus on cherishing myself. It was triggered by a trivial event, but it gave me the opportunity to reflect on whether I had been good to myself. I’d like to talk about what happened and the ways I cherish myself.


It happened in a period where I was going to various parties with my friends. I am studying in Ohio, the U.S. right now and I spent summer break here as well. My friends sometimes invited me to parties when they noticed I had free time. At these parties, there were around 20 people, and they were mostly made up of my friends and my friend’s friends. We would drink, chat, and hang out. However, people would also bring their friends so there were always people I didn’t know, and I was always overwhelmed because I had no confidence. I was exhausted since I was not able to fit in. Even though I did not enjoy parties, I kept trying to take part in them because I wanted to be a “social person” who is good at starting conversations with anyone. Finally, I felt extremely excluded and depressed when I went to one of these parties and I could not stand it anymore. I hated myself for just standing around and not fitting in. I think my negative feelings that I was bottling up finally started pouring out.


Since then, I stopped going to parties. I felt like I was running away from the challenge, but the fear I had for experiencing this kind of pain again was a bigger deal to me. Because I did not know who I should talk to about this issue, I wrote down what I thoughts. I wrote, “Why can’t I fit in?” “Why can’t I enjoy this?” I realized that I was blaming myself and focusing on things I couldn’t do. I believed that I accepted and understood that I couldn’t fit in, but that was not the case. My friends back in Japan thought that I got completely used to living in the U.S., had many American friends and was enjoying my time here. They asked me about American parties. I should have told them what I actually thought or how I felt, but I could not tell them that I felt out of place and did not enjoy parties. I was pretending to be strong or I was being stubborn. I was embarrassed that I felt out of place and excluded. I thought “What would my friends think?” I was so ashamed of myself for it. I thought it was fine to ignore my struggles because I wanted to change myself so badly.


After this happened, I have made it a point to cherish myself. I worked on giving myself a break for a month until school starts. I’ll share the three ways I healed myself.



* ソーシャル・デトックス:ソーシャルネットワーキングサービスの過度の利用によって起こる疲労やストレスを解消するために、その利用を控えること。

(1) Do a social media detox*, and focus on myself.

I made an Instagram account before going on my study abroad to document my memories, but I realized that social media makes me stressed out. Another Japanese student who came to study in the U.S. with me is an outgoing person and she is good at making friends. She goes to parties frequently. Every time I saw her Instagram stories or posts showing how she was enjoying herself at a party, I felt like a boring person who couldn’t have fun like her. I always felt jealous of things she had that I do not have. So as part of this social media detox, I got rid of the Instagram app from my phone. I was able to easily keep a distance from social media because I wasn’t used to using it a lot. After getting rid of social media, I felt more comfortable and able to relax. It is not easy to stop comparing yourself to others, but you are able to manage the opportunities that you get to feel jealousy through a social media detox, and reduce stress and focus on yourself.

* Social media detox: a period of time during which a person voluntarily refrains from using digital devices such as smartphones or computers and social media platforms.



(2) Say NO to myself

During a class I took in Ohio when I learned how hard it is to say “No” to others, I realized that I did not even say “No” to myself. I feel like it is important to know what I am good at and not good at, and accept my limits in order to protect myself. Challenges are rewarding and they lead to growth; I like trying new things and working hard. However, I started to take a step back when it feels really tough, and think about or write down what I think of the challenge or the experience, or how I am feeling. I think that we sometimes need to respect our limits and be able to say “No” when it is too hard to keep trying.



(3) Talk to someone about what you’re thinking or what you are worried about

I have a habit of forcing myself to continue once I make a decision. I believed that giving up means running away, and I corner myself into working too hard. I did not recognize that I did this, and I have wrecked my body from stress many times. To protect myself, it is important for me to talk to someone so that I can stop myself. I always hesitate to talk about it at first, but I find that my struggles aren’t unique to me. I feel relieved after talking to someone, and I can get their input on dealing with issues.


I am able to spend time peacefully by doing these three things. Even if I am busy, I am able to stop myself before I overwork myself. Through focusing on myself, I came to believe that I do not need to be ashamed of not enjoying parties. I enjoy talking to people when I am in a small group with two or three people, so I just see it as my preference now and to honour that. Of course, I am willing to take on a challenge, but I will make sure to never forget to cherish and take care of myself. What do you do when you are in a tough position?

Images by Rio

Edited by Kiara and Hikari

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