I'm currently travelling around Japan. It's a great country and despite not knowing much Japanese it's quite easy to get around. I would also argue it's a haven for people with anxiety as no one will usually talk to you or even glance at you. So basically you can do your own thing and not worry about anyone else. To top it all off the Japanese people I met were super friendly so if you were ever lost or needed help they would guide you to your destination or do whatever they could to help.
I had visited Tokyo for a couple of weeks a year before I started my travels and fell in love with the high paced, technologically advanced city. This is what inspired me to spend a year in Japan.
I'm travelling by myself and have visited lots of great cities and attractions. I returned to Tokyo during my travels and after living there for a month (and having lived in Japan for 6 months before that) I decided to go and get an underground pass which provides unlimited train rides for 3 days within the city. I had planned to go around multiple temples and museums each day.
To get a subway ticket you need to go to a large department store, passport in hand and request it from the cashier. Whilst waiting in the queue a young Danish girl behind me tapped on my shoulder and tried to strike up a conversation. I wasn't used to any stranger speaking to me as most Japanese keep themselves to themselves.
My anti-social self believed that you can avoid anxiety-inducing, awkward conversations by keeping them short or non existent... so I repeatedly lied to keep the conversation short.
She asked how long I had been in Tokyo and had I been to Tokyo before, I told her that I had just got there (now she can't talk about any of the stuff I've done already so it should be a shorter conversation). She asks how long I'm staying, "One week" I reply (I was actually staying a month longer in Tokyo but saying one week means there will be less to talk about again).
Then she asks what I'm doing next – here I told the truth – I said I'm going to see if I can buy a guitar from a thrift shop nearby. She asks to come with me... How can I say "no" without being mean?... I had to continue my previous lies throughout the rest of the day as I was too embarrassed to admit the truth and thought this would just spend a short time together.
After spending the day together she asks to spend the next day with me too. We message the details to each other through Facebook messenger and spend the full 4 days that she had in Tokyo together. This actually turned out to be really fun, visiting the city with someone who is experiencing it for their first time beats being by yourself. She also suggested places I hadn't thought to go before and I got to know another side of Tokyo. However, during our time I got a lot of strange looks from her when I'd slip up and spout out some clearly resident knowledge and then sheepishly say "or so I read in a guidebook before I got here".
At the end of her time in Tokyo she added me on Facebook whilst we were together so I accepted. A few Facebook posts later and I realised that the girl I had met had just liked my recent status about my time in Nagoya... A whole month after I had said I was only visiting for a week.
Not only that, she then liked my pictures from my original visit to Tokyo. She continued to like all my Facebook updates of my ongoing time in Japan and I winced each time Facebook gave me the notification that my lies were unravelling...
What I learned from this particular experience:
Sometimes it's better for your anxiety and yourself to tell the truth. You might have to spend a few extra seconds to talk more but it may just be worth a lot less time trying to avoid slipping up on your lies in the future.
New friends can come from anywhere at any time so don't always keep up your barriers to the world. It may feel safer to do so but try to embrace any new interaction you receive with open eyes.
Facebook has a privacy option on your status' so you can secretly limit your posts to exclude friends you don't want to know about your lies you told them. Or better still... don't tell lies in the first place!
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