I got ahead of myself yesterday and while other people wrote self introductions I went off on a different tangent. Allow me to backtrack now and tell you a little about who I am and how I got here!
In August 2008, my dad died. It might seem strange to have a death as a starting point, but life is funny like that. My dad was one of my best friends – and in fact, at certain times in my life it felt as though he was my only friend. He started feeling unwell while I was in a psych ward for depression/PTSD/mental health issues, and after I got out he went to a different kind of doctor.
His dad died of cancer in his early 50s, so my dad’s outlook had always been “anything after that is a blessing”. I was born when he was 56, and he always made sure I knew what a blessing he considered me. However, when the cause of the kidney failure was found to be multiple myeloma, the “cancer = death” switch in my dad’s brain got turned on and although he didn’t say it, he pretty quickly gave up.
I don’t know how cancer treatments have developed in the last decade, but at that time multiple myeloma was fatal. Doctors never like to give numbers, but there was talk of “another five years”. He was gone within half a year of diagnosis.
I drifted for a couple of years, but in 2010 I decided to go back to studying and get my BA. And – and this is where things get more relevant – it’s also the first time I went to Japan.
I did not like it 😅 I went to Osaka with a couple of friends (via Singapore), was only there for 5 days, had a cold, and really couldn’t stand how horrendously noisy Namba was. I vastly preferred Singapore. Sorry, Osaka! 😂
But the next year, I visited a friend in Tokyo, and it was a totally different story. I met friends, made new friends, and absolutely loved it. The friend I stayed with, Amy, was working for one of the large English conversation school companies, and she suggested that I apply to work for the same company when I graduated. Why not? I thought. It would be a good experience, something a little unusual to have on a CV.
Knowing some amazing and competent friends had failed to get hired the first time round, I sent off an application for the December 2011 deadline, thinking that failing once or twice would be good practice for when I actually finished my degree and needed to apply “for real”.
…And then I got an interview! …And then I got invited back for the second interview! …And then I got a job offer! I wasn’t ready; I hadn’t even finished my final two university courses. I asked the recruiter if she could hold off until the end of May at the earliest, so I had time to graduate. Sure, she said, and by the end of June 2012 I was living and working in Tokyo.
Of course, like most plans, my intention of only staying a year or so did not come to be. Eight years later I’m still here, now actually speaking Japanese (I couldn’t speak a word in 2010) and no longer part of the English conversation machine. If it weren’t for my dad, and for the money he left me in his Will, I wouldn’t have even considered coming here even on holiday. If it weren’t for so many teachers leaving following the 2011 disaster, I doubt I would have landed a job in such a good location so very easily. If it weren’t for x, I couldn’t have done y. All experiences make us who we are, even the negative ones, right? If you’d spoken to me during the peak of my mental health crisis in 2007 and told me that in the future I’d be happily living in Japan with a husband, a baby, a dog and a rabbit, I would have told you you were full of nonsense. And yet, here I am! Isn’t life strange.