Welcome to my Mid-20s life crisis
A little known secret about me is I have really bad social anxiety. Prior to moving to Japan, my mother accompanied me to San Francisco’s pre-departure orientation and had no idea why I was so anxious in the car until I explained to her after I broke down what was going on. Long story short, I’ve gotten so good at hiding it by forcing myself into super social situations to the point where my own mother had no idea that social interactions bothered me at all.
Arriving in Japan and constantly being flung into new and sometimes crazy situations where I find myself standing in front of 40+ “too cool for school” 16-18 year olds has done wonders for it, but it’s still hard sometimes. It’s definitely still something I have to work on daily, although it’s gotten easier and easier to force myself to handle most of these situations and meet new people..
I have two modes, social butterfly or hermit and I feel like I am constantly battling to find a happy medium between those two. I find it easier to connect with people who have similar interests – however I often feel like a majority of the people I interact with often are not on the same page – and it’s frustrating, lonely and I feel isolated a lot of the time.
Growing up all over the world I know constantly moving around and non permanent situations leads to very shallow or often temporary friendships – (Tumblr JETs excluded since I feel like I’ve made or have started to make some great friendships with some of you guys) but I feel like lately I’ve hit that “why bother stage” and would rather hole up in my apartment on Saturday night, re-up my WOW subscription and binge on Anime, than hang out with people.
I hate feeling like I have to make a constant, continuous effort to hang out with people or I’ll stop getting invited to events around the prefecture and I hate feeling like an after thought a lot of the time.
I love Japan, I love living here and on a majority of days I love my job (I complain a lot, but let’s be real, I love it and I am so lucky to be here), however it is exhausting and sometimes draining.
My life at my school has gotten better, for the first time in 10 years an ALT is working with second year students. I have more responsibility, but still tons of downtime which may or may not be a good thing. I wouldn’t change my experiences I’ve had on JET for the world, but I often wonder if I’d be happier in a bigger city and not in the suburbs (although my neighbors [Japanese and ALT] and the kindness they show to me on a daily basis makes it hard for me to consider switching programs and moving to a bigger city.).
People are already starting to get handed re-contracting papers and while I am planning on staying a third year to see my original first years graduate. I feel like I’m struggling with it. I feel a little stuck and not sure where to go next. A big reason why I’m likely going to stay is I have no idea what I’m doing next. I’m at such a pivotal point in my life and I need to make big decisions soon. JET has given me tons of experience but I’m not sure if I want to continue to pursue a masters in TESOL or switch careers completely and progress towards Library and Media Sciences. I’m not sure if I want to continue living in Japan, move back to the US or go back to Europe. I just have no idea where to go, and it’s so suffocating.
Sorry this was a little TLDR; I had a lot of stuff I just wanted to get out and subsequently I feel a little better now.