I procrastinated a good while before starting this blog post. I spent so many years trying to figure out how to leave Jamaica, I was not sure how to explain why I came back. In fact, I'm not sure I have fully reasoned with myself why I came back. Part of it was because of what my life was like in Japan, and part of it is the promise of what I could have here. It was family, opportunity, connections- sanity. There were so many aspects to why I decided to come home. In this post, I'm going to lay it out in three parts because I need the record set straight for all the hundreds of friends, fans, and family who have been asking.
Participating in Jamaica
Every Jamaican or expat to Jamaica now needs to think twice about the blessing they were given by being present on the island in a time like this.
Every Jamaican has sat through Social Studies and learned about brain drain. And as unfortunate as it sounded at the time, I could not but sympathise with those who saught more in foreign. It's easy to get caught in the glitter of modern buildings and smooth roads, especially when you have access to foreign media all hours of the day. For several reasons, I wanted to get as far as possible from this side of the world and enjoy something different. Despite this, I always knew I wanted to come home to participate in and grow Jamaica. I see so much potential in my country and my island. We are resourceful, talented, outspoken, communicators, comedians and curators. What I looked for in the world, I also hoped for in Jamaica. Originally I had planned to come back much later, but nonetheless, the reason stands. What the youth doesn't understand is that Jamaica is in the perfect position for development. The market trendsetters have tested and exhausted in first world. In Jamaica, we witness the media and consumerism of the US and UK through our phones and devices, we are also conditioned to enjoy all those commodities. Opening a business in Jamaica guarantees less competition where the research and progression have been laid out for you by other countries. I don't have to question whether upgrading the production quality of our music videos or having small businesses have an online presence in Jamaica is going to do well or not. By the example of the rest of the world, we know it will.
Life in Japan
I took for granted how important it was to me, that I was human and that everyone else thought so too.
It's so ironic that I choose Japan over Korea based on livability. I had decided that Japan was more "humanly possible" for me because, in Korea, beauty standards and work standards were higher than I ever planned to ascend to. I would have to wear makeup every day, focus on diets all the time and sleep in the form of naps instead of nightly. Japan fit my habits much better, or so I thought.
One month become a year, and a year soon became three. In addition to all the wonderful memories and experiences, I have seen more sexual harassment, sexism, bigotry, egotism and ignorance than I have ever seen in my life. Though discrimination and ignorance are everywhere, I had seldom seen it up close and so widely accepted. It was as if I was Moses surrounded by thousands of sheep. I spent the first half of this article talking about how much space there was to grow in Jamaica, and how much I felt I could be apart of that- Japan was the opposite feeling for me. Beyond the drinks, fancy malls, anime and cute displays, there was deeply engrained stagnancy, elitism and complacency. Japan is not ready to host expats fluent in Japanese, let alone tourists for the Olympics. As many conversations about progress in Japan would end, "if you don't like Japan, then go home" I went home. 😒
The Importance of Community
I believe that progress, self-development, learning etc. should be done with peers. I do not want to succeed on my own. I want to uplift everyone around me in the same breath.
I count my blessings for the kind of community culture we have in Jamaica. I understand how difficult it must be to maintain this kind of culture in big developed cities but it feels uncomfortable to live in disconnect with the people around you. In Jamaica, I feel as though everyone is my family, and I can rely on anyone to help. My reach is not as long as my arms, but as my family and friends all strung together. Every time I meet someone, they are thinking of connecting me with someone else that could help me or who seems like-minded. Abroad, I always felt awkward asking people to invite me places or, to meet mutual friends and parties of people who were not originally my friends. But in Jamaica, I don't bat an eye. I do not feel inequal or inadequate in front of people with more following or experience, I feel guided and supported. As someone who battles with anxiety, this is extremely important to me. I have underestimated "community" one too many times in my life, and I feel like it is due time that I gave it more of my heart and my energy, both for the bettering of myself and of others.
Thank you for reading. If you have had an experience like me, or are planning to move abroad, feel free to leave a comment or message me @takteresa_ on Instagram. #Jamaicanexpats #empowermentmoves #expatsinjapan