今の映画学校での学生生活は充実しているというジャッキー。 JACKIE HOFFART PHOTO
My birthday has just passed; I turned 31. On my birthday I always like to reminisce about where I was last year and wonder where I might be next year.
Last year I was living in London, with my girlfriend of four years. Now I live in Vancouver, and I'm single.
Last year I had a stressful but well-paying job doing something I didn't really like. Now I'm in film school full-time, which I absolutely adore and feel very passionate about.
And this time last year I also started this "What if I . . ." column in the ST.
Over the course of the year, I've taken on a different challenge every two weeks, some more intense than others. The hardest challenge I undertook for the column was giving up caffeine. (I felt so crazy that week.) Quitting smoking was definitely harder, but I did that before I started this column so that doesn't really count.
The most disgusting challenge was the izakaya one. I can still taste that slimy hotaruika . . . yuck! The haiku and drawing challenges were really fun and inspiring. Of course, I enjoyed all the ones that were styled around my backpacking adventure: packing, getting my hair cut in Taiwan, culling my clothes.
I think the talking to strangers challenge has had a profound and positive impact on my life. I'm still no social butterfly, but I'm less of a wallflower than I was before and I think the column had a big part in advancing me along that path.
The budget challenge, which I promised I'd report on in March, has gone swimmingly! I have been tracking my spending according to my strict budget and doing very well. As I expected, even though it feels really serious and stressful to set and maintain a budget, it feels so relaxing to know each week that I am "allowed" to spend another $20 (1,700 yen) on groceries, or that I'd best have leftovers tonight until my new budget kicks in. It's been working really well. Now, if only filing taxes could be this easy to sort out.
Most of the ones around restriction or diet or health have had a mixed impact on my life. I tried to cut my portion sizes in half last summer, but I just couldn't make that work. Maybe I have a high metabolism? I don't know. I don't go to the pool anymore. I did join a gym, but I've only been twice in as many months. I do try to keep up with my veggies, though!
Zooming out a bit and looking at the entire column as a whole, I feel really grateful to have had the opportunity at all to be able to take on all of these wacky little challenges and have kind and dear readers like you read about them and contribute or ask me questions. Even in the past week, I've received two very touching and encouraging letters. Thank you, Takanashi-san and Sakata-san!
The fact that I am now single is something I haven't talked about in the column, but I want to say that facing up to the uncertainties of my relationship was actually the biggest personal challenge I have taken on in the past year. It was nearly impossible to gather the courage, and I think it took me years to gather the courage to say, "I love you but this isn't working." It's very difficult to launch yourself into an imagined pasture of personal happiness when you know there's a treacherous forest of heartache between you and that dream.
But I'm here to report that it was worth it. It was all worth it: the challenges, the breakup, the quitting my job and traveling around the world, the going back to school. It's all been worth it.
I think that famous saying about love —
" 'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all" — has a broader truth to it. It's my belief that all kinds of personal endeavors, especially those in the name of self-development and long-term self-care, are worth it. This year I pushed myself to live a more authentic life, to really follow my dreams. And that meant making some hard choices and taking some risks. It wasn't always easy but I'm so glad I did.
「ジャッキーのこれ、やってみよう What if I ...」は今週で終了します。ご愛読ありがとうございました。