Challenge or Torture?

It's a fine line between challenging yourself and torturing yourself.

Since moving to Tokyo, this is something that I have contemplated often.

I have a friend who said he would never live somewhere he doesn't want to live. Life is too short to waste doing things you don't wanna do in places you don't wanna be. He makes a fair point. Who knows when your last breath will be? No one could say that a life spent doing what you love every day is a wasted life.

On the other hand, you could also prescribe to the idea that life begins outside of your comfort zone. If we put ourselves out there, try something that we don’t necessarily like, we learn, we grow, we discover that we love things we never knew we could love. We change. We adapt. We overcome obstacles, becoming stronger with each day that passes.

It is following this second train of thought, let's call it the ambition train, that lead me to live in Tokyo. Challenging myself to live in a city that I wasn’t particularly fond of, in the hope that I would grow as a person.

While I do feel like I have grown a lot over the past two years, it has been a struggle. I have tried to put aside my negative opinions about this city, to find and focus on the aspects of it that I like. I wholeheartedly believe that happiness is a mindset that we choose, which logically means that where you live is irrelevant. You can be happy anywhere.

Yet, I find myself succumbing to negativity more frequently that I will admit. My friend’s way of thinking creeping back into my mind at every opportunity.
You know, you were happy in Miyazaki. The lifestyle there really suited you. Why would you purposefully live somewhere that you feel doesn’t suit you?
You liked your job there more too. Why would you continue to work in a job that you know isn’t what you want to do?
Why are you torturing yourself?

The ambition train pulls out of the station and into the party.
I am challenging myself. I am learning. I am growing. I am trying new things. If you just stop focusing on all the negatives, you might actually come to like Tokyo! Look at all the opportunities we have here!

My friend comes back with a brutal rebuttal.
But if you were to find out that you only have six months to live, would you still be here?

He plays dirty! Of course everyone wants to live like they will die tomorrow, but then tomorrow comes and we realise, well shit I've got all this time maybe I should do something with myself. Maybe I should make the world a little better, or help thy neighbour, or become enlightened. Something!

By the way, friend, the answer is no. If I found out I only had six months to live, I probably wouldn't be here, but I am hoping that I have a little longer than that.

At this stage, I think you get my point. This internal dialogue is never ending, for there is no wrong answer, just as there is no right answer. Whether we choose to continuously challenge ourselves, or choose to be happy as we are, both are perfectly acceptable ways of living.

Perhaps my thoughts in regards to this will change as time passes, but for now, I guess it just boils down to what everything in life seems to be about, balance. I will continue to ask myself, how much is too much when it comes to betterment or self-improvement? Where should I draw the line? Am I torturing myself, or am I challenging myself?

Chilling in Yoyogi Park - my favourite place to escape city life.


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