Imagine standing on the edge of a new world, excited and hopeful, only to find yourself caught up in the winds like a leaf, tossed and turned. That’s how I felt during my immigration process. As a former travel writer, I was aware of the challenges: facing language barriers, missing cultural cues, and bruising my inner ego from time to time. I had handled all that, so settling in a new country should be easy, right? Well, I was wrong.
What I didn’t anticipate was that my journey often left me at the mercy of the immigration system; it eventually took a toll on me.
However, as we often find hope in our darkest moments, so did I. For me, that light came in the form of writing. Putting my chaotic thoughts into words gave me the distance to see things clearly. Writing has often been a way for me to sort through my experiences and find my way through the uncertainty.
I also learned that through writing about ourselves, we can uncover our authentic selves, and discover the potential within. So, join me to explore how writing about yourself unlocks your awesomeness, waiting to be acknowledged.
I am originally from Japan, where society expects us to conform from an early age. Especially if you’re a woman, expressing yourself freely is often discouraged; being quiet and reserved are highly valued. My personality wasn’t aligned with these expectations, so I made so many mistakes that led to criticism and disappointment. After my divorce, I felt like I had reached a dead end. So I jumped at the chance to work as a travel writer abroad. It was a bold and impulsive decision laced with madness – exactly what I needed. I left everything behind and headed to the Southern Hemisphere.
You’ve probably ventured out on your own, too, so you know the feeling. Excitement. You have the emoji with heart eyes all over, ready for an adventure. You push yourself outside your comfort zone, that leads to making unexpected mistakes. I certainly did, more than I’d like to admit.
I soon realized my English was as reliable as hotel Wi-Fi when I arrived in New Zealand. I often ate something mysterious that I didn’t think I had ordered. At one point I ended up exploring the outback in Australia, camping with a German group. By the time I submitted my travel article, though, I often couldn’t help but chuckle, “What an experience,” feeling satisfied. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but writing about my experiences had a profound impact. It not only transformed my adventures into something tangible and lasting but also allowed me to process my thoughts and gain clarity; providing a sense of completion.
Then, life took me on a different path. I fell in love, got married, and decided to move to the U.S. My immigration journey began. Although I was warned it would be a long, expensive, and complicated process, I thought I could handle it. But the pandemic threw everything into a bind when my green card was about to expire. At the same time, Asian haters stopped holding back from expressing their hatred. I was yelled at, “Go back to where you’re from!” on a street, in a parking lot, or at a gas station. I felt like I had reached another dead end, remembering the time I felt the same after my divorce in Japan. Back then, I managed to leap forward by becoming a travel writer, but this time, I had no freedom to travel. Feeling stuck and rejected, uncertainty about my future loomed over me.
But it was during this challenging time that I realized the true power of writing. I believe most of you have faced your share of life’s transitions – moving to a new city, starting a new job, or a disaster I can’t imagine – with other problems piling on top. These moments can leave us feeling lost and overwhelmed. We just want to scream, “Give me a break!”
Well, I discovered a way to give myself that break. I revisited my memories and notes and found that writing about my experiences served as a therapeutic self-care tool. It helped me gain perspective, make sense of my journey, and led me to discover my own guiding beacon I didn’t know existed. Now, I want to share this tool with you, so you too can give yourself the break you deserve, and gain clarity and confidence.
I call it CARE Writing because it provides structured self-care through writing. The “C” stands for Clearing your head by unloading everything in any format, the “A” for Analyzing and sorting them out, the “R” for Reviewing with compassion as if you’re helping your friend to gain a new perspective, and the “E” for Embracing the lessons, joy, and honoring your life’s journey so you can move forward.
It’ll take as short as 10 minutes, or as long as you’d like. The beauty of it is that everything is your choice, from writing material to style to how to keep or discard it.
This is an example of how CARE Writing helped me when things got overwhelming and threw me over the edge. First, I unloaded everything onto paper as they came up. It gave me instant relief by stopping my mind from generating endless worst-case scenarios. It changed my feeling from being inside the washing machine, tumbling, to watching the clothes spin from outside. It made it easier to analyze and review what I had unloaded. Whenever I feel my “enthusiastic” inner critic trying to stop me, I think of my good friend to bring out my compassionate side. I then recognized that while many circumstances were beyond my control, I could still take action on the things within my control. This shift in perspective allowed me to focus on what truly mattered and helped me regain my sense of agency in the face of uncertainty.
Taking the time to write down your thoughts and experiences can be a transformative self-care tool. It’s more than just preserving memories; it opens doors to our minds and hearts. Through Care Writing, you’ll witness the power of words that capture your heart’s whispers. You’ll find clarity and confidence. You’ll uncover your inner wisdom and strength that will carry you forward in life.
So, I encourage you to start taking a little time for yourself. Grab your favorite drink, sit back, and relax. Pen and paper or your favorite writing app, it’s your call. Clear your head by unloading everything. Step back and analyze. Review with compassion, and embrace with courage, honoring your journey. As you practice Care Writing, you’ll find awesomeness in every challenge you face. Acknowledge how far you’ve come, and articulate your guiding vision. Let your narrative reflect the incredible, evolving, and endearing person you are. The words we use to tell our stories profoundly shape how we see ourselves and live our lives. We are not alone in our struggles; we care.