Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Just Happy I'm Here

Ever since I left Japan I felt so lost. Nothing seemed like it was working out. Nothing seemed worthwhile. I didn't know what I was doing. I felt like something in me had died and I wouldn't ever get it back. Last year was confusing and ripe with disappointments and joys. I got into Macau only to be kicked out and applying for graduate school was an emotional drain. I thought I wasn't going anywhere again and I was looking at a repeat of the same past year in a whole new gleam of negativity. It's like this dark image of sakura. Pretty, depressing.

IMG_6292_3-18 Evening Drive to Ikegawa

I can thankfully say that things turned a corner in the past week. I'm going to graduate school in student affairs at a school in Michigan. This is the best news I've heard in quite some time. I hope to work in international student services at a university in the future and it feels like the right step in order to make that a reality.

I feel the blog calling me back. I can't split myself from the path this blog has put me on. It's then and me now. The spring brings some joy back to my mind. So much is waiting. I'll go find it again.


Michelle said...

Hey there! Thanks for the comment on my blog! Im so glad to hear that you found a place in a grad program that seems to fit your career goals. Your account of your past year of being "lost" is a bit frightening. Ill be leaving Kochi in August with only the vaguest ideas of what to do next. Do you have any advice for someone who is following in your footsteps?

blaine said...

Don't be too frightened. If you have the resolve you will be fine. I was going though a lot of different emotions and feelings about a million different things. Leaving just compounded that even more which I'm sure you see from our recent conversation.

It's okay for it to be hard. Nobody around you will really understand perhaps what it's like to move back home after living abroad unless they have done it themselves. I guess it's good to connect with former ALTs or people who spent time in Japan. It makes it easier to adjust back to American life. Don't be afraid to embrace the new you and whatever you have become when you come back. Don't feel forced to be something you aren't. It won't make it any easier.

I left Illinois in 2010 and my parents moved to Colorado soon after. I didn't return for 3 years and my new home is here in Denver. So this was a bit of learning curve for me. I had to take a written driving test and do the driving test just to get a license again. I only had my immediate family here so I spent most days alone figuring out what I was doing. That can be dangerous if it goes on too long. I made efforts to meet people and make friends but I never felt like this was home. I still felt lost so to speak. That was tied to my lack of plans for what was next.

I thought maybe I would start a screen printing business (t-shirts and such) with some equipment I had acquired. But I that just seemed too big of a problem and I didn't have enough income to do it anyway. I tried endlessly to apply for work and find jobs. I aimed for entry level stuff that wasn't food service related or manual labor. Didn't get anywhere with that though. I am a trained social studies teacher but the teaching field isn't exciting to me for many reasons these days. It continues to get harder, pay worse, and I would have had to take tests in Colorado to do that. I did some substitute teaching, which is something you might look into if you have nothing else going on. I finally got a job in April, 8-9 months later doing weed cutting for a local government water department.

I think my biggest piece of advice is be proactive with yourself. Reconnect yourself to something. Keep busy. Pursue your interests. Don't be afraid to go anywhere. I felt such a strong pull to go back to Japan in the first several months. But if you know why you left, you wouldn't necessarily be REALLY happy going back. It's just the allure of the life you lived. I take that back though. You could be happy going back but it never would be quite the same. Plus, you mentioned career. That is one reason why I left. I wanted to get somewhere with a career so that I can afford to do things later on. Own a house, build a brick oven, travel, and everything else I like to do. Granted you can do a lot with a teaching salary in Japan, it just wasn't the path for me.

You seem pretty down to earth about things. Both of us have our own similar struggle. I think you and I can overcome that. I feel like I'm really turning a corner. It took me awhile so I hope you can navigate it better than me. Just be aware of your emotions and what they are telling you. Don't fall into despair. It might be hard and it might not. Just live to the fullest and move forward.

Anyway, stay in touch!

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