Blogging and train riding are pretty similar to me – crowded, mildly terrifying, but really worth it!
The Tokyo morning commute is its own animal. Mean Girls style scenes of “how this would be handled in the animal world” frequently flash into my mind as I’m shoved into the slow walkers in front of me. Mindlessly walking from one train line to the next for the 500th time, I subconsciously block out the overstimulation threatening to destroy my introverted self. I’ve been shoved by the masses into the tiniest nooks of train cars that you wouldn’t imagine could fit five more people, until they prove to fit 10. It’s easy to feel incredibly small and insignificant, knowing I am on this train with thousands of people and our train is just one of many, collectively carrying an estimated 80,000 people PER HOUR during the greater Tokyo area’s morning rush. But that’s what happens when you’re just one of the 20 million people who will ride the train that day.
Yup, 20 MILLION PEOPLE IN ONE DAY!
As a non-Asian foreigner, you get the added bonus of being extremely visible. It’s an odd paradox feeling so small and insignificant among the masses, and so visible at the same time; because let me tell you, people like to STARE hardcore. Many people are extremely surprised to see me joining all the sardined fun of the AM rush. They give this, “Oh! You’re not a tourist?” look. But there’s one thing I absolutely love about the trains – it doesn’t matter how crowded it is, if you make it on you will get to where you’re going (likely timed to perfection). We might all be on the same vehicle, headed in generally the same direction, but our final destinations are different.
For years now, I keep hitting pause on that small voice in the back of my head that keeps whispering, “Hey, it’s time to write again.” I keep setting new start date deadlines and watching them come and go. That’s when the fear and the comparison and the feelings of inadequacy sink in. I feel small and insignificant, as I stand on the platform and see the massively overcrowded train of millennial bloggers. I see the put-together blogger types and think, “I could never be like that. I could never write like that.” More realistically, I know I COULD do all the “right” things, but I don’t want to. I wonder if this the right train for me, but the best adventures don’t always have a destination.
I feel incredibly foreign in the blogging world, like I’m being stared down by people waiting for me to make a mistake or prove their assumptions that I have no idea what I’m doing and am probably lost. But if my morning commute has taught me nothing else it’s that you don’t even need a foot in the door. If you’re determined that this is your train, determination, flexibility, and some big deep breaths is all you really need. Then, just turn around backwards, do a slight back bend with your arm fully extended as if you’ve got a pressing question and get a grip on the top edge of the door. Then, as the doors start to close, you decide if you’re going to press in or get off. Chances are you won’t be the last person on, so someone will come and shove you in. It works. It’s miraculous.
Here’s the real kicker…on my commute, I have never been insecure that I was going to fail at the job of the person who is breathing down my neck (there’s really nowhere else to breathe other than in other people’s faces or the occasional armpit TBH so it’s fine). I’m aware that, although we are sharing personal space (and likely each choosing one foot to stand on because rush hour trains were made for flamingos, not people who need to stand on two feet), I am not going to their job. Our destinations, purposes, and goals are completely different. We might be on the same vehicle, but there is room for both of us. We might have created that space but, nonetheless, it now exists. So, this is me pressing in to the overcrowded blogging train. If I can be one of 20 million daily train riders in Tokyo, I can be one of the 2 million blogs posted today. Because this blogging train has 18 million less people than a day in Tokyo, and I’ve survived here so far!