Off the boat syndrome

I have been asking myself, “What annoys me about Japan?” lately. Now that I have been on the lookout it seems to be easier to recognize those little pet peeve moments. One moment is what I call the off the boat syndrome. For anyone who has lived in Japan for any length of time probably know what I am talking about. Japanese just seem to assume you’re a tourist OR you live here, but you haven’t been here very long therefore you don’t know Japanese at all.

This is really annoying and frustrating. I wouldn’t say I am fluent, but there are many things I can do well. Plus I have passed N2 and working on studying for N1 of the Japanese language exam. I know taking a test has nothing to do with actual ability. Anyone can study for a test, but someone who is of a lower level would never try for these things unless they had a confident grasp of the language. That is all I am saying.

But it’s strange. If I feel like there is some kind of anxiety coming from the person I am speaking to, I goof up. If it feels like they think I don’t know Japanese for some reason, I just seem to read that and completely mess up. I don’t understand this at all. I also noticed that there seems to be a certain portion of people who I can speak Japanese well to. And on the other hand there is another portion of people who I just turn into this off the boat dude when speaking to them. It most likely is something subconscious on my end. But the more I converse with others and the more I build these kinds of experiences, I feel as if that subconscious anxiety when speaking will go away. At least I hope so.

I will admit a lot of the times it does depend on the circumstances and the context. There are just those instances where someone is talking to me, and while I may understand what they are saying I just have no idea how to answer. So it ends up where they are probably thinking, “Oh, he doesn’t understand me.” I am still very much learning how to socialize in Japanese. Hell, I can’t say I know how to socialize well in my own damn language. I mean, I left America a loner with no self confidence and a ton of anxiety. Oh, how much I have grown in the past 4 years… Japanese who I have known since I first came here will say things about how much I have changed since they first met me.

Anyway. Today I did have this one instance where I was talking to a woman at the taiko practice I go to. She just started talking in broken Japanese and gestures. I had no idea what the hell she was trying to convey. It turns out all she just wanted to know was how long it took to drive home from the practice hall. Now, come on! I could have understood that if the person just talked naturally. It’s these kinds of instances that are annoying. It just makes us both feel awkward in the end. It’s usually from the people that seem to think I don’t know Japanese at all.

You know, I’m not hating on Japanese for their assumptions but I also don’t want to be an apologist for these assumptions. I don’t know what could solve this issue. Japan has a lot of issues in the foreign relations department. One thing that I personally have tried to live by is this. If I can break these assumptions on a daily basis then I am in my own little way making the situation better for all foreigners in Japan. *shrug*

Days sober: 0

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Filed under Japan, Reflection

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