Things go better once you commit fully to a decision. That is another pearl of wisdom that I learned in Improv classes. No matter how extreme, how risky the choice, if you don’t go after it with everything you’ve got, you don’t give your idea even half a chance to succeed. Trying to do something new without ever letting go of the old just makes a mess. Ever tried to get married without divorcing your last spouse? Like I said, it makes a mess.
Since I’m talking about fully committing, allow me to fully commit to my women’s magazine style proverbs and throw in even more metaphors. The ocean, with its unpredictable waves and uncharted depths seems appropriate here. We’re each captain of our own ship. Once you stop flailing around in fear of the waves, and also stop consigning yourself to be at their mercy – stop letting yourself be directed by external forces, and actually decide to take control of your own steering wheel – you may find it’s not so hard. You really can steer the vessel – and things go more smoothly when you do.
Ever since I committed to the teaching abroad idea boldly, rather than half-assedly, (going to exactly the country my heart wants to – expense, challenging job market and overall practicality be damned) the universe has seemed to congratulate my efforts by working with me instead of against me. Life is calm….easy. Things have worked out rather fortuitously in many ways.
Though I was anxious to wrap up my job and leave LA way back in August, being forced to stick around for almost 2 more months allowed me to accumulate a small savings that I otherwise wouldn’t have had. BECAUSE I was so intent on leaving in August, I had already moved out of my place by the middle of that month. Several awesome, wonderful friends then stepped in and allowed me to stay on their couches, which, while not exceptionally comfortable, allowed me to save the money that I’d normally have spent on 2 months of rent and bill payments. That may last me a week in Tokyo!
But, first and foremost, I wouldn’t even have attempted this crazy plan with out the support of my parents. Not only did they give me that early parental seal of approval I needed to feel like my idea was worth pursuing, but their willingness to be my financial safety net is what made such a lofty goal seem confrontable at all to begin with. Now, thanks to a holiday position at the local mall that seemed to come right when I needed it, I may just save enough to finance the 3 month work-seeking portion of the trip entirely on my own. Plus, I get a lovely 20% employee discount to beef up my professional school teacher wardrobe as icing on the cake. With a little internet research, I was also able to locate a local ESL class that would allow me to sit in and volunteer for the next couple of months to gain some experience. Fortuitously, the teacher has turned out to be incredibly helpful and happy to welcome me into her class and show me anything I’d like to know. As an unexpected gift, helping out in the class has turned out to be incredibly fun.
It’s also astonishing how kind strangers can be when you put yourself in their hands and allow them to help you. For nearly 9 months now, I’ve been telling everyone I meet about this grand adventure I have planned. Inevitably, one out of every 10 people says, “Oh, I have a friend who did that. I can give you their email.” It is remarkable. I make sure to reach out to all of these connections. Not everyone has great advice to share, or time to share it, but the few who do are so happy to help that it more than makes up the difference. People love talking about themselves, and about topics with which they have lots of experience. So, I find that most people who have taught abroad or lived in Japan are more than willing to share their story with me and try to offer some advice.
I also count myself lucky that at 34, my parents were happy to let me move back in and sponge off of them for 3 months while I plan towards my pipe dream after having left a “perfectly good job.” My mom was excited about it even! She pointed out that most adult children my age are too tied up with work and their own families to spend much time with their folks. I’m trying to prioritize my life in a way I’ll be proud of later on – family before work…chase your dreams…see the world – but how lucky am I that my parents see it this way too. Many 34 year olds who quit their jobs and move back in with mom & dad are thought of as deadbeats or slackers…. or else suspected of being in the midst of a raging midlife crisis. But then, I probably fit into that category after all….