Thank you for Thomas Dillon’s Sept. 5 article, “How to become a gaijin that can say no.” As an expat from Los Angeles, I feel I have also lost my ability to say no. In L.A., saying no is a vital part of surviving: on the street, “Hey, little girl, do you need a ride?” “No!”; at a bar, “You look really familiar. Haven’t we met before? Can I have your number?” “No!”; and at work, “Can you take a look at my report and fix any errors? Thanks. Oh, and can you have it on my desk by tomorrow morning? I’ve got to present it at 7 a.m.” “No!”
I thought that saying yes all the time was compromising myself and that I was losing my identity. I thought I was softening up and losing my “street edge.” Now I look at it from a different perspective. With each “yes,” I am in a way extending my welcome here. With each “yes,” I can get a favor in return. With each “yes,” I am showing the Japanese people around me that I really want to be here.
I like living here. I appreciate the opportunities I have here. And, yes, I want to make my life here. Thanks for helping me see that saying yes isn’t so bad after all. I’ll just be sure to keep “no” in my back pocket just in case.