Friday, October 12, 2012

Life Paths


These days I kind of feel like I am just drifting. It's not that I'm not trying; I've been job searching and applying, networking, trying to maintain my Japanese, meeting people gradually. But right now it feels as if there's really nothing more I can do but wait for something to happen. Keep trying until something is successful. I know I have a lot to be grateful for, but I'm just getting sick of feeling like I have no control over what's going on and where my life is going.

I went to a private elementary school, and from there I choose to go to a private high school on Long Island, arguably with the best academic reputation in the state. I got in. While in high school, I decided which college I wanted to attend. It was the only school I applied to; I got in early and went.

In college I chose to double major. I chose to study abroad in Japan, twice. I successfully worked my way through all that. When I was finishing up school, I applied to the JET Program and was accepted.

And I guess that's about where I lost my way. I've returned to the States and am kind of lost. I could probably be happy in a number of different fields, but the environment has gotten so competitive. I think what I'd really like is to go into public policy or international affairs, but without a graduate degree of some kind or related experience? I am just hanging here in the wind.

Recently I've been looking at a lot of different things. Military (reserves, at least)? Moving back to Japan? Out of curiosity I did a quick job search earlier, and there are plenty of English teaching jobs.

Would it really be so bad, I wonder? Go back, teach English for another 10 or 20 years. Get married over there and have kids, maybe. I can imagine worse lives. But nothing is a sure thing in life. I could also go over there and spend 10 years teaching English, only to find that I am no longer qualified to move into any other field.

And there's no guarantee life would be better in Japan, even if some of those ALT jobs pay more than what I'm making right now...

I wish I had the clear direction in my life that I used to have, the feeling that I have a wide variety of options. Right now everything just feels

Even if I were to move back to Japan, I don't know if I could regain what I feel like I've lost.

Well, I'm sure things aren't so grim as all that. I'm just thinking, and wondering what will happen and what I should do...


  1. Hi there,
    This seems to happen quite often, especially with those wh o come to Japan straight out of college. Having never returned for a significant amount of time in the decade I've been living in Japan, I may not be the best person to give advice, but I'll go ahead anyway.
    1. If youre still interested in Japan, checkout what opportunities you may have in the States (call the consulates, JET program, if you were involved, and/ or local Japanese-American groups)
    2. Seems like these days aren't exactly the best to be hunting for a job. I suppose it depends largely on what you wanna do. That said, Japan can provide a respite from the rigors of searching for a work in a hostile climate. Maybe use the English teaching as a bridge to doing something you're more qualified to do, but over here. You'd be surprised how much you can do with medium-level Japanese. Don't let language/ other worries interfere.

    That's really all I got at the moment, but I have lots of thoughts on the subject.


  2. I feel with you.
    I've also been in Japan for a while, albeit not as long as you have, just for half-year long internship. Since then, I've been in a LDR while working a low-paying science facility job and I am currently getting my second University degree. After that, I don't really know what I should do. The LDR is something serious for me, but I don't really know whether and if yes then on what terms I should try to go back to Japan. I also doubt somehow that my LDR considers living in my country an option, but it's a difficult topic in our conversations, one that we tend to avoid. :/

  3. Thanks Jljzen. I'm not sure what my plan is right now, but I'll take that into consideration. I think I'd like to go back to Japan and might be open to living there long term, but I'd have to have a decent job (maybe an American firm or government or something). It's just hard to say anything for sure right now.

    Sammer - LDR is tough, man. That said, power and good luck to you. As the end nears, I think you need to assess how you feel about each other and what your chances are. Honestly I have regrets about how my LDR ended. If you feel like you really love her and could make it work, seriously consider that.

  4. Thank you for your words, I will certainly consider all the options that we have.

  5. Hey Paul

    I was kinda in a similar predicament about 2 years ago until I picked up my current obsession, photography. Have you thought about picking up any additional hobbies or interests? that might help you network more and give you enough change to spice things up a bit. I've been doing that for the past year or so and probably going to take it a bit further pretty soon. My life has been going consistently upwards since then.

  6. Hey there, don't have much advice other than looking for a Japan or Asia related job to work as a bridge between your experience and other jobs in the work force.

    I feel like reading your posts are like a peek into my future. We have had very similar paths as far as Japan is concerned, so I feel like I'll be in the same position when I go home next year.

    Sorry if that wasn't very helpful, but know that you're definitely not alone! Good luck!

  7. Sammer - No problem, man. Feel free to drop an email or a comment if you want to talk about it.

    Tom - Thanks for commenting. Yeah, I have considered that, and I have been getting involved uh, er...Japan and Japanese language-related stuff. It seems kind of difficult to find cheap or free ways to get involved in a lot of hobbies. For example I would like to take some cooking classes or something, but those seem to be pretty...not cheap.

    Jenny - Thanks for stopping by and for your thoughts. Yes, I've been getting comments and messages from people who have had similar experiences, so it seems our situation is pretty typical right now for people who go teach abroad for a couple years and then come back. My advice would be to start looking and applying to stuff early (while you're still over there), though not at the expense of enjoying the time you have left. That, or recontract another year or two. I underestimated how dismal the job market is over here and would probably have done the full 5 years on JET had I been more aware. Anyway feel free to drop a line if you want more of my "wisdom." =P