I’m leaving Japan.
For those of you who don’t know yet, I’ve decided to leave Asia. And by doing that, I’m leaving behind a bit of my childish irresponsibility behind.
Overall, the last year has been great. It has been an epic adventure, one that I will remember forever. I created, changed and ruined friendships with so many people that it’s hard to keep count. I’ve been to places most people only read about in books. I’ve done things that many will never have the chance to do in their lifetimes.
And I’ve abandon a world of responsibility, responsibility to myself and to my family. It’s been more than a year since I left my loved ones behind at the airport in Portland and boarded the plane for Incheon, South Korea, and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss them.
My responsibility towards myself is every bit as important. By going to Asia, I kept a career that I’ve dreamed about on hold. The minute I stepped into the classroom, I realized something very important: teaching is not for me. My talents lie elsewhere, and at this point in my life, every minute I spend in the classroom is time wasted not pursuing something that I love.
Recently, I was given the opportunity to change careers. My current school is letting me go, but as a token of thanks promised to get me a more lucrative teaching position in Tokyo. I’ve always wanted to work in Tokyo, but not as a teacher. And yet, I still almost took their offer.
That evening, I was browsing Youtube when I came across a speech by Steve Jobs. He was addressing the graduating class of 2005 at Stanford University. I’d seen the video before, but for some reason, I was compelled to watch again. I listened passively until he talked about his battle with cancer. He was talking about living every day like it was his last when he got to the subject of work, when he talked about founding Pixar after he was fired from Apple. Pixar was created, he said, because he didn’t love his everyday routine and decided it was time to change something. And every day that he wasn’t doing something he loved was time wasted for him.
If I took that job in Tokyo, I would be living in a city that I’ve always wanted to live in, but not doing something I loved to do. Tokyo will always be there for me, but if I were to go to Tokyo to teach, I would just be wasting more time. I do want to live there someday, but as a reporter or a newspaper editor, not a teacher.
When I go back home, I’ll go back jobless. I’ll have a bit of savings to survive off of, but I’ll be living to chase a dream. It’s a pursuit that everyone is entitled to, and that every person who has ever really lived has done.
My current state of irresponsibility is not a bad thing. It’s also something that everyone should be entitled to. Everyone should have time to themselves. My time in Asia gave me time to search myself and to find out what I really wanted to do with my life. And along the way, I learned many important lessons that I’ll keep with me for the rest of my life.
But irresponsibility has to end at some point. I’ve grown tired of mine, and have realized that it’s time to move on. I’m happy with what I accomplished here, but I won’t be happy if I keep doing it. I have commitments to my family that need to be realized and myself that need to be fulfilled.