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five years ago


About a year ago, a friend of mine who lives in Boston shaved her head in a crew cut and bleached what little hair she had left a golden blonde colour. It looked nice, I remember telling her, and it suited her well from what I could tell judging by the picture that she had sent me. Because the pandemic thwarted our attempts to see each other, I would not see her hair in person and because neither of us are the type of person who likes to take a lot of pictures of ourselves, I would not see another picture of her for some time. Recently, for Halloween, she dressed in a cosplay of a character from one of her favourite video games. She sent me a picture of how she looked before she put on her wig. Her hair was longer now, styled shaggily just above her chin, and any remaining hints of blonde were almost entirely drowned out by her natural black hair. The picture of her surprised me since the last time I saw a picture of her, she had barely had any hair at all.

“Your hair is long,” I remember saying.

“What?” she had said. “Oh yeah. It grows fast.”




Our hair is something that is with us every single day. There is no way for us to notice how it grows from day to day. How could we? It’s with us all the time and it is always just our hair. We would have to be completely separated from it – rendered completely blind – for a long period of time to notice a change.


Recently, honeyhands has celebrated its fifth anniversary and in light of this achievement, I have decided to reflect on the person that I was five years ago. As a person, I don’t think that I have a personal motto or particular words to live by. However, there is a central concept that runs through my head whenever I do anything – progress. I want to feel like I am always moving forward in some way. This might professionally, in school or at work, but more often, it means personally. But just like the slow but inevitable growth of hair, I don’t know how I change day to day. I can however look back at moments like this and think about my own changes.


The idea of change in itself is one that fascinates me because time is nothing at all but change. A person who does not seem to age despite the years that go by. A town that looks the same as it did one hundred years ago. In English, we might use the term “frozen in time” to describe these things. When we think of something existing in this way – as being frozen in time – we think of it as such because there is a lack of noticeable changes to it. It looks the same as it always has, like no time has passed.

時間は変化以外の何ものでもないので、「変化」という考え自体が私にとって魅力的なものだ。何年経っても老けて見えない人や、100年前と変わらない町並み。英語では、こういったことを「frozen in time(時間の中に冷凍保存される)」と表現する。こうやって「時間が止まっている」と考えられるのは、目立った変化がないからだ。まるで全く時間が経っていないかのように、いつもと同じように見えるから。

Change is the philosophy through which I live my life. When honeyhands’ very first article was published in the autumn of 2016, I was a university student with terrible sleeping habits who got nervous easily and liked to write things that I never shared with anyone. Now, five years later, I’m a graduate student who can confidently speak of things that I’m passionate about and share my writing with other people. It’s evident that I’ve made progress from a professional standpoint. But in reflection of my past experiences, it seems like I was living more passively in my own life. I felt like I was doing things for the sake of doing them and without conscious intention. I don’t think that progress for the sake of progress is something that should be a goal.


Many people in the world live in highly competitive societies where progress is measured in degrees, money, or job titles. Similarly, other people see progress as hitting certain life goals such as getting married or having children. But change and progress are things that can be deeply personal too. I want to grow as a person so that every day, I am better than a previous version of myself. For example, in the past I was very shy which made it difficult to interact with people that I didn’t know. I saw this as a flaw in myself because I would often get uncomfortable in social situations. I started to slowly put myself in situations where I had to meet new people without relying on my more extroverted friends and family members until I eventually became more confident in navigating the world in this way. I can still get shy and uncomfortable at times, but I can also do things that I never thought was possible for someone like me – going to meet-ups and events completely alone and coming out with new friends. For me, progress is not simply gathering quantifiable achievements but making positive changes to oneself.


I think what shifted my understanding of how change and progress works in the world was my years working abroad. I have no desire to be a teacher as a profession and so the years that I taught English in Korea are a period of time that many might consider a ‘break.’ This means that it was a period where instead of continuing to make progress toward my goals, I rested. But despite how it might seem like a ‘break’ from a professional standpoint, I grew so much as a person that I think that these years were more instrumental to my overall progress than anything I did in school.


Just like the slow but inevitable growth of hair on one’s body, I am not aware of how I change day to day. But considering the person that I was in the past and the person that I am now, I can see the gradual changes that have accumulated over time. I don’t think that people necessarily need to be always doing something productive – this is something that I’ve written about in the past – but stagnation is not something that should be strived toward. Leading an inactive lifestyle can cause health risks like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. A pool of water that has gone completely still accumulates bacteria and breeds parasites. It’s important to always keep moving, in one way or another. I think that this is how we should think of time instead of simply watching the days on a calendar increase in number.


Images by Caitlyn

Japanese Translated by Mia and Hikari

Edited by Eli and Hikari

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