Not Enough | What I Learned about Loving Japan & Self-Worth

Donny Kimball stands in Tokyo's Tsukiji area and holds a daikon, a metaphor for loving Japan

Today is November 21st, 2021. This date marks the end of the 35th year that I’ve been alive on this planet. In many senses, it’s been both one of the best and also most tumultuous years of my life. Around this time in 2020, I had just left the safety of being a full time employee at a listed PR firm in Japan to start a digital marketing agency with a close friend. As I wrote in this piece on the white snakes of change though, things just didn’t end up going as we planned. What’s more, this isn’t the only area where I came up short since my last birthday either.

All things considered, the months since the end of spring have been one hell of a ride. After having a fateful chance encounter with an old friend in late March, I ultimately came to the realization that I was far more suited to being a freelance digital marketer and content creator than a Head of Digital Marketing. In the wake of this happenstance rendezvous and the subsequent breakthrough, literally every facet of my life cumbled to ash. Though I in many senses I ended up being reborn anew like a phoenix, watching it all happen in real time was harrowing.

By many accounts though, the last 365 days have actually been a colossal failure. Looking back to what I had set out to achieve over the past year, I don’t think there is a single area where I was successful. I failed to adjust to the unavoidable need to bootstrap and improvise at a fledgling startup. I failed to get a handle on my health and kick my penchant for turning to alcohol as a means of shutting off my incessant mind. Hell, I even failed to attra… Well, let’s just say that I put up nothing but big fat zeros in all of the areas that mattered to me (despite having success in other aspects of life).

Why I failed so badly at leveling up over this past year is an interesting topic from a self-development perspective. At the risk of venturing into extreme “woo woo” territory, I now believe that my many low vibration tendencies and habits prevented me from attracting the kind of results that I should be capable of. Despite being both quite confident and capable, I’ve long struggled to feel worthy of positive experiences like joy (my default is numbness). This manifests itself in an inability to believe that I deserve better out of life. As a result, I often avoid starting critical ventures that would move me forward in favor of toiling with minutia.

Allow me to provide you, the reader, with an example of what this lack of self-worth looks like in practice. Right now, I know that the most impactful tactic for growing my audience is to increase the number of subscribers on my email list. Rather than put together a PDF lead magnet on my favorite hidden gems in Japan for after the pandemic though, I’ll instead spend precious hours on minor tweaking. Since I don’t feel that I deserve the positive sensations associated with the better result, I stay locked at the mediocre level I am at right now.

For the longest time, I used to half-joke that my goal in life was to work so hard that I might be reincarnated as someone who truly deserved Japan. Since I’ve always felt that I was starting from a place of lack by default, my go-to ​​gimmick has been to just work my face off until my eyes bleed. As the last year has shown though, no matter how hard I grit my teeth and slave away, it won’t be enough to get to where I could be without addressing the innate lack. I just can’t escape the negative gravitational pull with only a workhorse-like mentality.

Putting one’s nose to the proverbial grindstone is indeed a great way to get started as it produces quick linear gains but it’s not sufficient to get a 10x result. For Instance, while my current stratagems may have got me from nothing to 100,000 followers on the Gram, they aren’t going to get me to over a million. Given that I now have an initial modicum of success, achieving more will require a fulcrum that produces exponential dividends. If I am to live up to my potential and be of better service to Japan, I’ll need to escape my present mental shackles of being a laborer and embrace higher vibrational tendencies.

While I still have a ways to go, I’ve recently been trying my best to embrace joy and other high vibration emotions. Since I still struggle with feelings of worthiness and desiring something for myself, I’ve had trouble getting there alone. Thankfully though, I’ve found a workaround to break into the “purple zone” on Hawkins Scale of Consciousness. Succinctly put, this unlock is to unfetter my love for Japan and openly express it to the world. Though I’ve always harbored similar feelings for Japan, it’s only recently that I’ve started to let floodgates open.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is where things get really weird and cultish. Lately, the more I allow myself to be a conduit of love for Japan, the more I find myself in higher vibrational states. I’ll go out of my way to offer a heartfelt thank you to a bus driver for schlepping my sorry behind around and then be struck by an unexplainable and overwhelming sense of joy. Here I am trying to express my love and appreciation for Japan’s greatness and it’s me who is being rewarded with positive sensations? WTF?

Lest you think that this is where the oddities end, allow me to tell you that a similar phenomenon has been happening with my personal finances too. The more that I try to throw money at the rural regions of Japan, the more they give back to me. I’ll make a concerted effort to support a local vendor or craftsman and then get inundated with new business opportunities as a marketer and/or content creator. It’s almost as if Japan is reciprocating the love that I am now more actively trying to express (#NotInvestmentAdvice).

All throughout the past year, I worked until the very point of exhaustion to acquire new leads and contracts for the business that I was building. These days though, I am practically drowning in a sea of potential prospects despite taking my foot off of the metaphorical gas pedal. The difference? I am now slowly but surely starting to spend more time in higher vibrational states. While I still can’t get there myself, exploring more of the “purple zones” of the Hawkins Scale of Consciousness has literally been life changing.

Now, I wouldn’t fault the skeptics and cynics out there for saying that this is naught but mere coincidence. I too have been guilty of that line of thinking. The only thing is that the virtuous relationship with Japan and joy works in reverse too. Whenever I find myself taking Japan’s amazingness for granted or slipping into old habits of negativity, all of the positive endowments I just mentioned vanish overnight. I guess Japan giveth and Japan taketh in accordance with how much one loves it…

This brings me to the final point that I’d like to make in this absurd piece on vibrational states, feelings of worthiness and my love for Japan. As alluded to above, I’ve always thought that there was no way of me ever being worthy of Japan in this life. I guess this is why I identify so much with Iguro Obanai from Kimetsu-no-Yaiba (a.k.a. “Demon Slayer”). We both suffer from not feeling worthy and sought to work hard enough in this life to be worthy of the object of our affection in the next.

Back in September, while again exploring Kyoto’s iconic Fushimi Inari Taisha at night, I suddenly had a thought that was not my own. The voice told me that my life’s mission should be to become a man who is worthy of Japan before I drew my final breath. Until this chilling encounter amidst Fushimi Inari Taisha’s thousands of torii, I had never even considered that such a thing could be possible. Though I’ve long been Japan’s servant, it never occurred to me how focusing more on myself might better help me be of use to the country.

Looking back, I can only believe that the voice who spoke to me that night was none other than Inari Okami who is enshrined at Fushimi Inari Taisha. While only subtly different from my prior life’s mission of serving Japan, this decree from the foxy deity changes everything. When you unpackage it, Inari’s command implies that the way that I can be the most helpful to Japan is to take better care of myself. By walking the semi-selfish path of trying to be worthy of Japan, I’ll bring into being far more good than I otherwise would have trying to serve.

In closing, it’s been one hell of a year. Here’s hoping that my 36th year on this planet and 6th year of promoting Japan is my best yet. There’s a lot that I want to accomplish in the coming 52 weeks but I think I am up to the challenge. Armed with the joy of loving Japan instead of grit and the need to feel worthy, I think that this year I am finally up to the task.

Until next time travelers…

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Donny Kimball
Donny Kimball

I'm a travel writer and freelance digital marketer who blogs about the sides of Japan that you can't find in the mainstream media.

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