All (good) things must come to an end.
Good things come to those who wait.
What do you think about when you’re reminded of these words? For me, they put what it feels like to be standing on the precipice of change into context. Lo’ how the mind can so easily waver.
Who knew emotions could be so damning? Who knew that deciding to adult at 28-years-old would result in mental turmoil? Much has happened to me mentally in the past month or two and unfortunately, I can’t attribute the frenzy to that one crazy aunt.
In order to clear my head of all of its thoughts, I sat down to making a web chart. It had been so long since creating one, I was stumped on how to start for the first few minutes. Technicalities aside, my pen eventually went flying across the paper. What started the mess in the first place? What triggered me to get so wrapped up in my own mind that it has convinced me to set aside my dream, if only for a little while?
Let’s take a gander at the gist of it all:
On the Japan side
- more travel opportunities
- more time off than in the US
- job security as an ALT but no career advancement
- get certified in as many things possible
- BECOME FLUENT
- not being close to family -> failure to complete self-imposed duty -> going through belongings after death = panic -> fear of going home for too long would result in job termination
- fear of responsibility?
- high demand for skilled labor (i.e. nurses, engineers, scientists)
On the US side
- family is nearby
- easier lifestyle
- not being tied to family frees me -> the fear of being alone is stifling
- can work towards becoming skilled
Even now, I’m thinking to myself that if wanting to be free to do as I please with no responsibility, why is it that I go looking for it? Certainly, I would be saving myself a lot of trouble by staying in Japan, right? Why drop the reputation I’ve started here and make a new one back home? Anxiety, probably. I’m a full-fledged worrywart, after all.
The optimistic side of me says that it’s never too late to buckle down and be serious for awhile before taking off again. Hell, there’s people out there who make such a thing a career. Most of the advice I’ve received is “You can always go back.”
The pessimistic side is saying that it would be impossible for me to do so permanently. There’s sex discrimination, age discrimination, pressure to retire at 60 because most older folks can’t be arsed enough to keep pushing for a bit of financial freedom, higher tuition rates (should I decide to go back to school), and a damned point system for qualifying as an HSP (Highly Skilled Professional).
Again, why think about going back home in the first place? The biggest reason is because my parents are aging and I feel it’s my responsibility to be there for them. I can’t explain this duty properly because it’s unclear when it got started.
Friends have accused me of living my life for the two of them, though, when that isn’t the complete truth. My original plan was to come to Japan, satisfy my curiosity and then leave. The only dependent factor was how long would it take for me to be satisfied? I always believed there was a Higher Purpose for me in this country.
Should I go home, the best-case scenario in coming back would be to land a decent job using the Japanese I’ve accumulated. A glance at Indeed.com showed me that speaking another language will be invaluable to businesses downtown, especially hotels.
Second, being an ALT and skating by on minimum wage is not the greatest way to live. For those curious, I make about $22,000/year. Because I was a dummy and didn’t listen to those same friends regarding Japanese study and saving, I’m paying for it now. I have nothing to show for the sweat, blood and tears I’ve poured into this whole endeavor other than gray hair and a sad bank account.
I don’t regret the choices I’ve made. I just wish I hadn’t been so corrupted by the freedom having a decent job and an actual paycheck afforded me.
A few pieces of advice to anyone wanting to do this ALT thing: save up as much money as you can in your first year because you’ll basically be tax-free. The next piece lies in the realm of qualifications. Have them before you come or work your ass off towards them while you’re here in that precious virgin year because Japan doesn’t want you long-term otherwise. Do you want to remain in education? Get a TESOL/TEFL. Not too interested in education? Go back to school and get your Master’s or PhD in the field of your choice – and make sure it has a job outlook and it’s not something fancy to decorate your wall or bookshelf with.
You can relax if marriage is your goal, though. Most of the red tape disappears if it’s to a Japanese national. Also, too if you’re that golden HSP, you’ve got the digs coming to you on a silver platter.
Basically, after all is said and done, I want job security (because I feel guilty) with the chance to safeguard my parents (because I feel guilty) and the way I’m choosing to do that is to do a total 180 and wrestle my way into the hotel industry. Lord knows Vegas is full of them. That way, I can continue to use Japanese (because I’ll feel guilty) and get a nice benefits package. Not to mention I can pay off my pesky credit card in the blink of an eye (because I feel guilty). Let’s just hope that whatever company I double-down on has transfer capabilities. With Japan wanting to build casinos, I’ll be on the first plane to spearhead the project.
The local community college has certifications related to the hotel industry, too. When I hit the ground running, everyone better watch out. I’m determined to make it back to Japan in any capacity possible… even if that means I’ve got to once more don the ALT guise.
I’ll be back, Japan. Just sit tight.