Before my first stand-up comedy performance in Shibuya, a performer sitting next to me told me he thought everyone should try stand-up comedy — to experience facing fear. My heart was racing in my chest and I wondered if the anxiety was worth it.

Still, I'd convinced myself discomfort is key to growth. It's easy to feel yourself stagnating in Tokyo. I wake up in my Ikea-furnished apartment, walk to the Seven-Eleven and listen to the same set phrases from the staff. The greatest thrill of a day is sometimes the kick of the morning's cheap convenience-store coffee.

I compare my mind-set in Tokyo to living in a sensory deprivation tank. I feel cut off and tune out from my surroundings. The likelihood of any unexpected interaction is small, and conversations too can be predicted. I notice myself adjusting to the likelihood nothing unexpected will happen and feel myself losing my edge.