Following your dream are words that we hear many times in our lives. However, these words are not that easily satisfied. For years, I had dreamt of working in Japan and that is exactly what I am doing right now. I currently live in a beautiful town in Saitama and am working as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) under the Japan Exchange and Teaching program 2015.
I am not a teacher. In fact, before coming here, I worked as a software engineer for an international organisation. That was actually my first job since graduating from university. Over the course of my IT career, I had opportunities to travel and work with organisations across Asia Pacific. Part of my job was to provide technical guidance, advise and support to customers. I would travel to the customer site and help solve technical issues in the customer’s deployed systems and infrastructure. I also provided technical and ran online workshop to help train the support and technical staff to a range of audiences. The job was great. I got to travel and meet very intelligent people in the industry. I was able to get exposure to the business was done within different organisations as well as learn about different work cultures. However, as time when on, I reached a point were I felt a little lost. I was 5 years into my IT career and I felt like I was working but not achieving a whole lot. I started to question whether I really liked what I was doing, and what was I doing.
I had been pushing back on a thought and that was whether or not I should move into an area that was related to education. I loved working with people. I enjoying helping others grow and using my knowledge to enrich others. I enjoyed producing artefacts, such as articles and videos, that could be consumed by others for educational purposes. Due to such reasons (plus or minus a few other factors), I chose the JET program. I will not go into detail in this post about my experience getting into or being on the JET program thus far, because that is a story on its own. All I can say is, I applied for the program, quit my job, found out that I got into the program after quitting (Yes! That was the order of events). Now, I am living in a city in the Saitama Prefecture of Japan and sitting in my apartment while I write this post. It may be crazily hot and humid here at the moment, however, it is the best decision I feel that I have made so far.
After quitting my previous job, there was a period of time where I thought I had made the worst decision of my life because I was moving into an unknown area – teaching English. Quitting is scary; but moving into something that you have little idea about is even more scary. But, nonetheless, I got through it. It is not without the support of my family and great friends of course. I also had a great career counselor, KB, who I am grateful to.
What I have learnt from the journey thus far is, live by taking risks. You never know what could be waiting for you if you take that step. It’s all about perspective and managing yourself. After quitting my job, I had lots of time on my hands where I spent it with my family and friends. It was great to take time out and use that time to bond with important people in my life. I look back on that now (with only being in my new town for less than 9 days) and it feels great that I did it.
To whomever that comes across this post, my message to you is, believe in yourself and do not over think things. Someone pointed out to me once that we, humans, spend way too much time overthinking and over analysing situations. Of course it is great to have a plan or a back up plan should the unpleasant or unexpected happens. Furthermore, overtime, people develop comfort zones that make us not want to step ‘outside’ and explore or take risks. But, if you truly want to live and feel alive, maybe being impulsive is not such a bad idea. It’s all about perspective and trying to embrace the moment. Following a dream is easily said than done for certain people. I fully understand and am aware there are those who feel they don’t have a choice. But at times, I think it is ok to feel a little selfish and do something for ourselves. Another friend also said to me once that you should always try to do things that make you feel alive. That is what I am doing right now. I hope others who are struggling have the courage and will to do the same for themselves too.
PS: I wrote this entry on August 4th. Had no internet at the time to publish it. But here it is finally!