Getting older reminds everyone that we need to make decisions, tough ones. I am not married, I don't have a permanent residence and I have no real idea what I am going to do with the rest of my life. When I put all of those things on the table and look at them, it can be quite scary. I always end up comparing myself to people who have completely different lives than me. People who have lived no more than two hours away from where they grew up and had the first kids when they were about 25 years old. There is nothing wrong with that. I am actually envious of them for a lot of reasons.
Of course staying in the same place for a long time usually means you've got a big group of friends. You have developed your life style to fit your personality and the where you live has molded you to a life style; either way you most likely have ways that you like to spend your time alone or with friends. In my case moving around, especially in the last few years, has been a bit of a nightmare.
The first two places I lived in when I first came to Japan weren't that rural and had a great group of people that I could play music, do judo and skateboard with but now I am living in the sticks but making good money. To be 100% honest I need that money. Taking way too long to graduate college put me in a pretty good amount of debt. Not a lot compared to other people but its debt that I'd like to get rid of sooner than later. If I truly do what I know I should I could have all of the debt gone in about a year. Of course this would require living like a monk but nevertheless it is possible.
However my current job is a temporary contract. So that puts me in a funny place in terms of what I should do long term. Of course there are two very big options, stay in Japan or move back to the USA. If you asked me to decide right now which one I would do, I would say go back to the USA. I am not exactly a very specialized worker. Sure I can speak Japanese but other than that my skill set is not that amazing. If I move back to the USA I am sure I can find a job that pays pretty well and actually start making a life for myself long term. That is something that I feel like I haven't been doing.
On the other hand if I stay in Japan there are other benefits. I find that people that stay in Japan long term have lots of connections and wind up getting way better jobs than people who have only been here for 2 or 3 years. I have a few friends who are professors at smaller colleges even though the only education they have is a BA from an American university. I find that amazing. The idea that someone can teach at the college level with a BA is incredible. However it is most likely because that school doesn't take English very seriously. Of course there are other jobs besides teaching like translating and foreign sales which are both jobs that I could get into but I find that those jobs put a lot of pressure on their employees and I kind of hate feeling that way especially when I am not living in my own country.
When I quit my first job in Japan there was a few weeks when I had no idea what I was going to do. I could possibly wind up in Japan homeless with no money and no job. I know it sounds crazy, I have no idea what I was thinking. I hated working in sales. I had worked retail in America but being a company's only foreign employee was a lot of pressure. I wound up just feeling like "this isn't for me".
I have other friends in Japan who are older than me and still single and living in apartments making as much as I do at my age or sometimes even less. I don't want to put myself in that position when I know if I go back to the USA and search I can find a good paying job. As much as people think that they can learn Japanese there is a level where you can never get as good as a native speaker. There might be a small exception but I think for the most part, even people who are professional translators would agree that native level and fluent and two completely different things and even if you are fluent there are some things that you won't be able to do unless you are a native speaker.
Getting back to what I was saying earlier. Getting older means making tough decisions, decisions that will affect you for the rest of your life. I find it amazing that people sometimes make those decisions while they are still in the blissful ignorance of youth and wind up happy. I just think it goes to show you that having people around you that care about you and your care about them, that's the only thing that matters. Your job, where you live, how much money you have, these are all factors that can make you more happy but the people that surround you and influence your day to day life, that's whats most important.
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