The Downside of Independence – Gaijinhan

The Downside of Independence

Many a times, I’ve been pissed by my dad who used to say how un-independent I am. When he hears of someone doing something by themselves, he’ll take the chance to tell us about it and say how we are unable to do the same. I never bothered arguing because it does not serve any purpose.

I’m not certain if that played a part, but as I grew up, I began to realise how much I dislike relying on others, even if it were some really simple stuff; even if it made more sense to get someone’s help. A few years ago, when I was teaching at a public school in the rural areas of Aichi prefecture, and had to cycle some 30 minutes to school everyday, there was once when typhoon hit the area. The rain was crazy heavy and the wind was very strong. A teacher offered to take me to and from school everyday for the next few days till the typhoon passed. I declined. I didn’t know why, but I felt that if I can do something myself, I will do it myself. If I can cycle in the storm, I will do it. Yes, I got really wet each time I get to school and on the way home, but it didn’t bother me because I felt better doing things myself.

During my time in Aichi, I had so many friends who shared the same love of karaoke, I literally went singing a few times a month. And even a few times a week at times. Since I moved to Tokyo, I don’t see many people as crazy about karaoke as I am. Most people aren’t even keen about the idea, it appears. A Filipino-American friend suggested I try karaoke alone. I turned that down because it sounded incredulous to me. He said, “Just try this once.” I did, and ever since, I’ve been going by myself.

In the beginning of this year, I sprained my back and while I’m thankful a friend came over to take care of me, do my laundry and clean my house for a few days, I realised that I didn’t have that much problem doing things myself when she is away. Also, since I started traveling every month this year mostly alone, I am beginning to wonder if independence is really that good at all. The lack of need to have someone around scares me. The idea of total independence frightens me. I want someone around, and I prefer to have someone around. I still haven’t been able to go to amusement parks or cinemas by myself, and I don’t want to try it; much less get used to it.

I feel that you must always leave something that you cannot do alone. That is part of what makes me feel that I’m part of a society. When I begin to be free from the need to have someone around for anything and everything, it feels like I am living in a separate world; it feels like people around me can’t see me and it wouldn’t matter. But as un-religious as I am, I believe that every being in this world is dependent on others around it. And I want to keep it that way, at least for myself.

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