In the blink of an eye, July has come to and end and it’s been one whole month since my last entry about living in Japan. What has made me stop blogging, or blabbering about my life? Been too busy? Too lazy? Or just nothing left in my life worth mentioning anymore?

I remember someone telling me before that most successful people keep a diary (or a blog nowadays) because it is a good habit to jot down things that happen in your life; they help you remember joyful memories, bitter lessons learnt, acts of kindness, moments of excitement and depression, and all in all, each and every piece of the puzzle that creates who you are today. One cannot be successful if he does not remember the person who has helped him, reprimanded him, cried for him or laughed with him. Perhaps this is one of the biggest reasons why I am still writing despite a lack of adventurous escapades that I used to have just a few years ago.

Even today, I sometimes go back to my old blog entries, reflect and reminisce about my life a few years back. It can be quite amusing to look at myself in retrospect when I went to all 47 prefectures of Japan and attempted to write a book but failed, when I appeared on TV and felt like a star, when I started Project YUME to help the victims of the Japan Disaster, when I found a job and lost it- found another one and quit, and then stumbled upon another.

Time is ticking away as each of these events whizz past, and I want to keep reminding myself to treasure the present, because one day not far away from now, I will be looking back at my twenties, probably regretting not having done certain things.

My work has been great- doing something close to what I have always wanted to do, though a spate of challenges lie ahead, as life is for the rest of us too. Working in Japan as a foreigner is not easy, because ironically, you are expected to work as both a foreigner and a Japanese. Do as the Japanese do when in Japan, but understand in your heart you can never be one.

I remember my father telling me this a few years ago when I decided to come to Japan: To be successful in a foreign land, you cannot be as good as the locals; you have to be better than them.

It struck a chord in my heart because I have always thought, being in a foreign land, you will always be forgiven. Yes you will, but if you choose to do that, you will never succeed.

Sometimes I struggle to fathom why I am given tasks that a Japanese would accomplish two times faster with three times the effect… but now I know, it is a test, and more than that, it is a blessing, because it is living evidence that I have been entrusted with the same responsibility as the locals. I just need to perform better than them now.

In the blink of an eye, we are left chasing the shadows of July, yet still in the sweltering heat of summer. As we welcome August with open arms, I can feel the heavy responsibility incumbent on my shoulders as I strive to take a small step ahead every day.

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