Random thoughts, comments, observations and general fluff from a random bint who left London at the end of September 2004 to embark on a new life and new adventures in Tokyo, land of the cute.... and is leaving mid-June 2010 - and counting!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

So this is how my life is.

As I haven't blogged in such a long time, I doubt anyone comes here anymore. Hence, this post is more cathartic than anything else.

I'm not in such a good place right now and haven't been for a while. The end of the road feels very far away right now and the trek is tiring me out.

Having had the year starting off badly with being ill and the hospital stay, it doesn't really feel that things have got any better mentally for me. My head and my heart were both telling me last year that I'd had enough of Japan and the time to leave was well past. I told myself I'd be out of here in April 2009 unless I found a good reason to stay. The 'good reason' came in the shape of the opportunity to do the teaching diploma. But more about the diploma in a bit.

So, why the struggle with Japan? Sometimes the reasons seems crystal clear and other times even I'm not sure what's wrong. Part of it comes down to me myself. I feel trapped. All of my life has been spent moving from house to house, city to city, and now I'm just plain restless. I've been here TOO long. Staying in one place for a long time isn't what I do. I don't connect with this place. To be honest, I don't know if I've ever connected with a place but I feel certain that there is a place somewhere that I will connect with.

Whilst I know some lovely Japanese people, as a whole the Japanese people I have daily contact with just don't inspire me. I cannot get to grips with a group mentality, even after five years. In fact, there are so many things I could add to this, but as I can't really find a tactful way to express my feelings on this matter, I won't.

My job also doesn't inspire me much and I feel, as a teacher I should be an inspiration for people, but if I don't feel the enthusiasm I believe I should feel, then how can I really motivate other people?

In the area of Tokyo where I work the majority of our students come for one-to-one lessons. Whilst I understand that for some students it is impossible to come at a regular time so they must have lessons by themselves, or that some students have special needs in their study, like preparing for a presentation, for example, (the majority don't) - for those that CAN come regularly - well, I think they're just anti-social freaks chosing to not have classmates. No, not really. But almost.

I love teaching. I want to teach. But I feel I'm just entertaining most of the time. Like I said, my head and my heart aren't in it anymore. I don't feel I'm growing as a teacher and it's frustrating the hell out of me. And the more I read for the diploma, the more my own situation is getting to me. As was pointed out to me, we're not about teaching, we're about money. Highly motivating words those. I WANT to be about teaching. Sorry, but that's how I am.

I probably mentioned before that in April I returned to the language schools part of the company. I'd worked there for 3 years, and then gone to the business/kindergartens side for 18 months, before returning this year. I was given a promotion to senior teacher but I wasn't given decent classes. I wasn't given large groups - even when other teachers left and larger groups became available.

And in the current economic climate - well, you can imagine the sorts of things that are happening in the company and the sorts of things being speculated about.

Japanese students are easy to teach. But I want more from the students. I want students to ask more questions. I want students to be more creative. I want more variety and unpredictability. And then I'll be willing to give more.

Where I live has turned into a bit of a nightmare for me recently. In the last few months, quite a few of the residence left and everything changed as a result. Those who left were working full time and Japanese. They spent a lot of time in the house studying. They`ve been replaced by Europeans who are LOUD. Bloody loud. Most of them are here for a short time so thank fuck for that but there's only so much you can take of battling your body's desire to not let you sleep with your inconsiderate flatmates ridiculous amount of noise at 3am or 5am or 7am or whenever they feel like making a ridiculous amount of noise. It's been seriously driving me nuts. The reasons why I won't move boil down to a) I have NO time to look for somewhere, b) it's expensive to move, c) as a foreigner I really don't have that many options of places to live here and d) it's just too much hassle and I don't know if somewhere else would be any better.

For the rest - I've been doing the Trinity LTCL Diploma (teaching diploma) since the beginning of the year. I knew it would be hard work. I didn't know it would be such a ridiculous amount of hard work. I feel behind in all areas of it. At the moment we're in the middle of ten weeks of teaching practice on a Sunday (six are assessed and four of those go towards the final result of the diploma). This means I get one day off a week. It's killer. And time that I would have put aside for studying - is being used to prepare for the teaching on Sundays.

In short I am exhausted. Mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted. My sleep has been abysmal for ages. I'm having to depend on caffeine to get through the day. I cannot calm my mind. Physically I'm in a terrible state. Amazingly, my skin has held out and I've not actually had any problems (touch wood) since I left the hospital. Amazingly. My skin normally reacts very quickly to stress. But it's not so much stress as exhaustion. I should exercise. But I don't have time. If I have any energy, I feel I should be studying. If I don't have energy to study, I don't have the energy to exercise.

I also don't have the time to go out. I can count the number of times I've been drunk this year. Actually, I can probably count the number of times I've been out this year. Diploma guilt. Tiredness. Sickness at the beginning of the year. Still, means I'm saving a lot, so that's good. Isn't it?

And the age thing is really getting to me. I've come to a few realisations regarding my age and however I look at it, I cannot find a positive side to this. I can't help but feel now that I've made several bad decisions in my life and that in every respect, I'm not where I want to be. I feel there are things I should have done differently, things I should have made changes to a long time ago, things I want but may never get. Things that have passed me by and opportunities that will now not come my way. And it saddens me and terrifies me and makes me feel very lonely because the fact is, I don't know anyone who can relate to this - to these fears and regrets.

So, what can I do about it all? Not much right now. I feel like this year is being lived in a bubble that I can't really direct or control. This year feels like an existance, not a life. Starting with the first two months of the year being wiped out with sickness and continuing with not having any outlets for - well, I was going to say 'my energy' - but as I don't have any, it can't be that.

I just don't remember the last time I felt motivated, enthusiastic, alive.... I can't remember the last time I wasn't exhausted, the last time I actually had nothing to do, the last time I laughed my head off. I'm stuck in this bubble floating around and trying to survive - because it doesn't feel like I'm doing anything more than that. And I don't have time to do anything more than that. I'm stuck. And I'm not happy being stuck.

And next spring I am getting the fuck out of here. If I can keep it together until then.


Blogger Timorous Beastie said...

Ha, I'm still lurking. I may be gone, but you are not forgotten.

I'm sorry to hear that you feel lonely. I'm sure that most people feel similar fears and regrets to you as regards opportunities missed, bad decisions made and so on. You can hardly say you've lived unless you've made some mistakes. However, whatever mistakes you've made, you can't undo now so there's no point castigating yourself. Even though you might do things differently if you could do it again, you will at least have learned something from it, and reflection on what went wrong is one of the ways people can develop. Mistakes are essential part of learning and all that.

If it's any consolation, I never clicked with Japan either, and am also haunted by the feeling that I've made choices that mean I'll probably never achieve some of the things I really want.

I suspect you might feel a lot happier teaching somewhere like Turkey or Spain. Those countries seem more suited to your personality, and you'd probably be able to afford to live in a nicer place there (not a palace, but better).

I hope you can weather this storm, finish your diploma and get yourself to a happier place.

4:47 am

Blogger Jo said...

Thanks, honey.

Actually, emailing you - and about 100 other people - is lurking on my unwritten to do list. How`s it all going with the new job? Guess you`re on summer vacation now?

I`m housesitting for Sarah and Kei this weekend and loving the emptiness and peace of the house.

I think they`re taunting me with the Barcelona travel guide left in plain view in my room though!!!

3:06 pm

Blogger David said...

Your readers are still here. Sounds like the Beastie above gives some good advice. Time to move onwards and upwards. I know it sucks to not be able to do so immediately - I am still waiting for October to come.

2:24 pm

Anonymous Ben J said...

I'm still here too! Don't use facebook, but your blog is one of the feeds on my Igoogle homepage...

Beastie has made some very good points. Making mistakes is what life is all about, but try not to beat up yourself about it. Easy to write, but harder to do of course; look to the future and what you want to achieve next (I agree with the move to Turkey or Spain too. As an added bonus you'll be closer to here too!). x

7:49 pm

Blogger Kelsey in Japan said...

I love reading your blog and wanted to let you know as a fellow teacher of language, here in Japan.

No advice to give, but I know a tall glass of the white and massage always makes me forget my troubles at least for a hour or two.

1:50 pm

Blogger MissSin said...

Know we don't know each other too well, but i would like to offer my good thought out to you.
While i haven't experienced a lot of things you're going through, I do completely understand where you're coming from.
Sometimes, teaching in Japan made me feel more like a hostess (without the benefit of free champagne) and i would really have liked to have told some of them that they were the most boring people on the planet. But i didn't. Be I'm a professional, me.

But, what i can say, things do get better. Sometimes, it may be just by a pure chance meeting/opportunity.
Sometimes it's because we grab life by the throat, give it a good shake & make some some changes.

Just keep hope alive & don't give up the fight.

10:30 pm

Blogger Joanna said...

Hi Jo!

Great Blog! I've recently arrived in Japan and completely understand the 'bubble' effect from teaching in Taiwan for a few years!

Where are you living? I'm in the Aobadai area on the Tokyu Den-entoshi line. It'd be great to make a new friend, so drop me a line we should go on a boozer to ease your troubles temporarily :)


7:18 am

Blogger The Pixy Princess said...

Add me to the lurking lot! Been checking back regularly to see if you've spewed more thoughts, just been away myself these past weeks, so missed this.

I know we only met the one time, but I can't help feeling that 4 years of blog reading makes me KNOW you. And I know that you'll find your groove soon enough.

As for the mistakes... well... haven't we all bungled up at some point?? Come to think of it, we should get together and form a club!

Hugs to you!!

8:09 pm


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