The Summer Holiday Blues

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With the Summer Holiday’s in full swing, I’ve found myself increasingly frustrated and restless. I’m only managing to sleep about 4/5 hours on a “good day”, but I don’t necessarily feel tired. I just feel unmotivated and rather glum. A month ago, you would have heard me saying “Why can’t the summer holidays start sooner?”. But now, dare I say it, I want to go back to work.

Back when I was a kid, the summer holidays were the best. Meeting up with friends, going on family vacations and not having a care about the encroaching school term. But now that I live on the opposite side of the world and have entered “adulthood”, the notion of “wasted time” is becoming more of an anxiety of mine. It may seem shallow for my young self to complain about the luxury of having a month holiday, but I’d guarantee that if you were in the same situation; in 35°C heat, without a car and with all you friends still working, you’d probably feel the same. Mind you, this Summer hasn’t entirely been boring. Back in mid-July, I successfully climbed Mt. Fuji with a couple of friends, and two weeks ago my girlfriend and I drove to Tsunoshima for a day trip. In the eyes of many people, that would seem like a pretty eventful holiday. But with this amount of time off, I feel that I should be doing more.

Currently, there’s a lot going on in my head. From the important; my finances and my future, to the laughably trivial; what to cook for dinner, these have become my “daily worries”. But understand this, I’m a guy that tends to fret and contemplate over everything. I rarely back my choices a hundred percent, which can be both a blessing and a curse.

“Well there’s no use just sitting there doing nothing”, and I wholeheartedly agree. I’m also not an individual who would comfortably spend an entire week stuck in his apartment. Back at university it was so simple; either go to the pub with my friends, go watch a film at the cinema or play video games. Yet here in Japan, it’s a bit more difficult to deal with. It’s not culture shock, it’s not that I miss a can of Heinz Baked Beans (which I do) and it’s certainly not that I miss what’s going on it Britain, except for my family.

I like to travel, see and do things either alone or with friends. Whether that be hiking in the mountains or visiting historical buildings, I like to do stuff. My mother suggested I get a part-time job, or maybe do some tutoring (which I did last year) but I’m hesitant to do so. I’ve recently tried to follow an indoor exercise regime to lose some weight and build some muscle. While it hasn’t proved to be successful in reducing the kilos, I certainly feel more fitter. I used to jog when I got frustrated, but with temperatures reaching the mid 30s in Japan, I’m afraid my brain would melt and pour from my ears. I’m currently sat in my apartment at a temperature of 26°C, while outside its about 34°C. As a Brit, anything above 20°C is deemed too hot, and necessitates t-shirts to be removed in public, not the case in Japan though.

Photography has provided an outlet, and so too has this blog. Like I said in my previous blog post, taking pictures has been genuinely satisfying, and writing about my thoughts and getting them out there has provided something of a mental workout. My girlfriend has been a saving grace, but with her own turmoils and pressures to deal with, I feel guilty when complaining about my insignificant issues. It’s not all doom and gloom though. I’m going on holiday with her in late August, which seems miles away. We’re off to Ishigaki, Okinawa which will be pretty awesome. Let’s just hope that the weather will stay like it has been.

So is this just seasonal depression? Or the heat? Or is it just a symptom of being a miserable Brit? Well who knows, but I hope the rest of my summer vacation, and yours, will be relaxing and eventful.

How do you guys deal with this sort of lull?

My Hobby: Photography

Photography has become an hobby of mine since I arrived in Japan two and a half years ago. I’m still an amateur who has only a basic understanding of aperture and ISO, and I’ve never really touched Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom. The constant improvement in smartphone technology has resulted in a society that now has the ability to take good quality photos and video of anything, anywhere. While I still take my trusty iPhone 5c all over, I’ve also decided to carry my mirrorless camera with me at all times.

Before I came to Japan I purchased a Nikon 1 J2, my first real camera. Previously I’d been using my parents’ compact Panasonic to take pictures during our family holidays and day excursions. If I’m being brutally honest, my mother was the main “photographer” of the household while everyone else were the “models”. Yet after purchasing my own, I now understand the attraction and fascination with photography. There’s an overwhelming sense of enjoyment to taking photos of landscapes, events and people. While it’s an obvious medium to record memories throughout our lives, it also a challenge or puzzle to capture both the subject/s, and the emotion or atmosphere felt during the situation. And sometimes, it’s the details you didn’t realise you had recorded that are genuinely fulfilling.

There’s also a satisfaction to showing others your pictures, not simply friends and family but other enthusiasts. I had originally started a Tumblr blog that largely consisted of photographs I’d taken during my two years in Miyoshi, Japan (before I move to my current location). I still regularly update it, but I’ve recently started uploading my photos to 500px, which offers much more of a community feel amongst photographers. It’s been gratifying to read comments and advice from actual professionals about my “work”, which has resulted in my greater interest in the hobby.

In regards to editing photos, I’ll leave that to said professionals. I use iPhoto (seriously) to organise, and occasionally crop, adjust brightness, saturation and add a “classy” filter. But you could call me a “purist” (or lazy), as the notion of altering an image to the point where it’s unrecognisable is something that I take issue with. It’s an untruth. Sure your photograph will look fantastic, but having imperfects removed, relocating the position of the Sun, and adding extra details isn’t part of the purity of looking through the viewfinder and hearing the shutter click. Let the photo speak for itself, not your ability with Photoshop, unless you’re that bad.

I’ve just upgraded my three-year-old Nikon to a Panasonic GX80 (or GX7 Mark II) after spending a month researching and contemplating. I think I’ve made the right decision, and with my new purchase I hope to continue taking photographs and enjoying this creative hobby. 

You can have a look at a selection of my photographs on this blog’s Photograph page

Or you can visit my 500px page here