I haven’t written in a while

Five years ago, I started this blog (turned portfolio) because it was a means of documenting my thoughts. It didn’t matter what I wrote about, as long as I did. One of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned as a writer is to not dwell on the topic, especially if it has been talked about by other people. Instead, there will always be someone out there who wants to hear it from you. Even if that person is myself. That’s why I write.

English is my second language. I only started properly speaking it when I was eight years old. Even for myself, it’s surprising. All the jobs I’ve had after college related to precision in language (non-profit, ESL, legal, financial services). Right now, I get to put words on a website for millions of people to see. But since I do that as my profession and career, it’s hard to get in the mentality of writing just for myself. Writing without worrying about an audience. Writing for the sake of personal catharsis. Writing because I want to write.

I got my start in writing because of an obsession with poetry in elementary school. I have journals of poems I’ve written as a child. It was fun because I liked writing about the seemingly mundane things in everyday life. I gather joy from life’s simple moments. One time, I wrote a poem (in Japanese, considered writing an English version) in class about a woman dropping her lipstick in the pursuit of finding her MetroCard in a messy purse, right as the train pulled in. There was a certain pace to this woman’s actions. As a passive observer, I felt both the tension of needing to make this train and the calmness that if she missed it, she can easily catch the next one. And somehow, that poem ended up impressing a few important people in Japanese education.

It’s often said that teaching is a rewarding job. It was. Even if I was just an expat in Southeast Asia, teaching young folks how to communicate well, I was delighted when students showed improvement. More than anything, I was proud of students who learned to form opinions and express them eloquently. I loved my students who confidently disagreed with the status quo, but exhibited enough empathy for others. It brought me immense joy when they can talk about sophisticated topics without making it complicated. They always put the human first. I hope that as they continue to grow up, they will never lose that. 

I haven’t written in a while. Not because I lost myself as a writer. In fact, right now is the most confident I feel in what I do. I can’t say I was too busy to write. I had all the time in the world to write, especially during the majority of 2020’s lockdown and restrictions. I just didn’t have a desire to write. An entire year went by without me posting a single thing. I would’ve wanted to talk about how fun the Tokyo Marathon was, if it wasn’t canceled. I would’ve loved to share my experience of going to Europe for the first time. I would’ve been more open about sharing my feelings during this pandemic. But I was too tired to form structured paragraphs and thoughts to publish. I’m giving myself the time to live in a messy world of thoughts, even now.

In my job, I have to make things make sense. Oftentimes, the process to write words for a website is similar to writing on a blog. Although, I have significantly more creative freedom with my own platform, things always start out messy. Ideas and concepts never make sense. Advocating for clarity is hard, but necessary. Especially with so much uncertainty in the world, the least I can do is make abstract and complex ideas easier to process. I didn’t want to have to do that for my own writing. So I just didn’t write and I didn’t post. It would’ve been nice. I’ve had a lot of time to think in the last couple of months, but I’ll let those thoughts stay in my mind.

Yours,

Riri

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