Someone recently asked me if I consider myself an introvert or an extrovert. My first thought was that I’m a little bit of both. I love being out and about and around people, but I hate crowds. I love curling up with a good book and being left alone for hours, but I suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) like no other. I’m shy and quiet but I’m also that person who is incapable of shutting up on a 5-mile hike. So I wasn’t really sure how to answer this, which led me to taking one of those generic 10-questions-probably-not-all-that-accurate-online quizzes. Results: I’m an extrovert. (*This psych major later learned that a mix of both is called an ambivert so … )
This leads me to my first visit to Tokyo, the most populated city in the world, an oasis where personal space doesn’t exactly exist and people being shoved onto trains is normal. My visit with Joyce was nothing short of amazing, and the first few days included shopping in Harajuku (super kawaii) and visiting Shibuya Crossing, of course (pronounced Sh-bu-ya, not Sha-boo-yaaa).
And one late afternoon, I stopped in the middle of Shibuya Crossing, like the idiot that I sometimes am, and had a moment. One of those, I’m-standing-at-Palatine-Hill-for-the-first-time moments, a THIS-is-what-life-is-all-about moment, and that’s when I realized just how transformative this trip to Japan has been for me. Heck, this entire year has been transformative for me. And as I stood there in probably the busiest crosswalk in the world — surrounded by people getting off from work, people going to work, tourists like me from all walks of life, children running to keep up with their families — all complete strangers — I’ve never felt more alive.
This, coming from a person who usually hates crowds, someone who is usually muttering, “ew don’t touch me,” under my breath when a stranger gets too close. I felt nothing but joy and gratitude to be able to wander the streets of the most populated city in the world, with a great friend and travel companion no less. This, I think was my first step in learning how to do all things whole heartedly and to always find the beauty in getting lost — literally and emotionally.