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Monday, July 22, 2013

How To Be A JET Settler

I admit that I have an addictive personality.

When I get my mind onto something, come hell or high water, I drink at that trough until I get my fill.

It's why I haven't missed a day in posting a blog here since - February of 2011. I'm not sure if I'm proud of myself or worried at how obsessive I've become.

I'm taking a break from a Breaking Bad marathon going on seven hours now... from one thing to another.

During the week when I'm not working, I'm coaching my seven-year-old son's soccer team. House League. non-competitive.

But... let me tell you... although I am not a jerk - I don't yell at the ref, or parents or players - and will in fact applaud good plays by the other team... I will say that it eats me up inside.

I watch my team of undersized kids either not care about the sport or simply lack the knowledge of what to do... and I scream inside my brain.

It's my fault. It's always my fault.

Ever since I was seven-years-old, I looked at every single loss or tie or bad play made by my team and rolled it over obsessively in my brain as to how I could have done something... anything... more... to not have had that happen.

Here's the thing. I am a pretty good soccer player. At least I was when I played. I gave the 100 per cent effort on the field every time. Every single time.

I played hurt. I played sick. I played concussed. I never missed a practice and I certainly never missed a game. I cared about soccer - and sports - and realized that even if I was a little nothing outside the soccer field, at least inside it I could be somebody.

It gave me a wee bit of confidence... to know that there were people out there who respected my abilities. I always played 'borderline dirty' according to my father who hated to ref my games because I was always that close to straying over the line... but I never, ever, and I mean ever, went out of my way to hurt a fellow competitor.

It was just a game, right:? I didn't care if I won or lost... but rather how I played the game. I rarely lost... but every night after a game... I obsessed about what I could have done to not have someone else make a mistake.

People don't understand that about me, because that was never something I told anyone else before. I like to blame myself. When my wife does something wrong. My fault. Why didn't I see it coming? What could I have done to have the whole thing avoided?

What went wrong with the numbers in my blog - growing at an exponential rate until last November and then it dropped for a few months - like a rock - where by only now is it getting close to those old numbers. I obsessed about it. And obsessed about it... I have no idea why... it's not like I make any money doing this. Ego satisfaction I suppose... so maybe when the views on the blog dropped, I took it as a slight against my ego.

And yet... whatever... I just wanted to know how to fix it and make it better.

And what does all of this have to do with Japan?

Well... this was the mindset of the young man back in 1990 who was going to Japan for the first time as an Assistant English teacher on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme.

Kindda fugged up, eh? Sure.

Consider if you will that I was nearly 26 and still hadn't slept with a woman... was 30 centimeters shorter than I am now until I was 17. Hated school and failed a ton of classes including English in Grade 12...

And yet... when push came to shove and I was at my lowest emotionally and wanted to kill myself - though never actually thought about how... I just knew that I was wasting my time... I asked myself... is this the best you can do?

I heard that exact same line on Breaking Bad a few minutes ago. Of course I did.

And then... that's when I realized that no... no it wasn't the best I could do.

So I repeated Grade 12 - all of it - did something I had never done before - tried in school - and did well... not great... but well...

I applied to both universities and community colleges... my guidance counselor told me not to bother trying to get into university 0- they would never accept me... but screw him... I did it anyways.

I applied to three colleges and three universities... and you know what? I got accepted into all of them. I chose the closest university to my home... because I hadn't saved up enough money to go elsewhere... confidence came to late.

Then I fell off the wagon and floated through university... doing enough work to get a degree, but not enough to learn anything.

So I went to college and learned how to be a journalist. Lesson learned from university, I tried... got an internship with the Toronto Star newspaper - something only 10 people get into each year - and I was the first ever college student to get into it.

I applied to JET... and got in the first time...

So... what's with the creepy life story, you may ask?

Well... I just wanted to tell all of you JETs out there who are heading to Japan in a few days time.

Japan can be a bitch. You might have been the hot-stuff university person who always smelled of roses... or you might have been the person for whom life has been a challenge... but just know that Japan will be a challenge, too.

I watched brainiacs and IQs the size of a country get blown away by the social intricacies of japan. I watched people get lonely... cry to me about how their offices hate them... of how crappy their apartment is or how no one speaks English... or no one is writing from back home. People die and you are stuck in Japan (for me it was my grandfather, a friend and my cat).

Yeah, yeah... it happens.

But this time... rather than wonder why it sucks... think about how you could have made your experience better. Did you give it your all?

Did you try and learn a new language... did you ask for help? Did you try and make friends?

Whatever it is... Japan is a chance for everybody to get a fresh start.

Enjoy it. Take lots of photos. Keep a diary. Don't start a blog about Japan. There's enough of those out there, and only a few like mine are interesting. (unabashed plug).

But dammit... get out into the community. Let the people see you. Screw privacy. Just be.

Dammit all to hell... it will all be over so damn soon... and you will be glad to go home... until you sudden;y realize you already were home.

I'm pretty much home where ever my head hits a pillow... but you will miss Japan. So try and have some positive memories and experiences.

Okay... enough preaching.

Tomorrow - back to the fun stuff.

Cheers
Andrew Joseph
So... you might be wondering  - what's with the photo at the top? Really? You are wondering? I just told you the blog numbers were down. LOL.  

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