Craig note- Sometimes, you have to put your worries down.
My long work day got the best of me one late evening. I spent a good number of minutes griping to my lovely wife, I complained about my company, my boss, my coworkers, and my lunch.
Really, it was terrible.
“What would you like me to do about all that?”
“I don’t know. Sympathize? Empathize?”
“What difference would that make?”
She was right.
Years ago, it was difficult for me to separate work from my home life. For the record, I have an excellent English teaching job. That is a rare thing in Japan these days. Trust me, there are tons of long-term foreigners in Japan who struggle to make it every month.
I know I am fortunate.
But, boys and girls, I work for my yen.
There is no doubt about that. It is a grind I used to bring home with me every evening. But, this is not a whiney post expecting sympathy from you.
Let me be clear, English teaching is not difficult. I see foreigners “tired” from English teaching. I have never said the words, “I am tired.” in 13 years of working in Japan. That phrase is for folks destined to take a plane home in the future.
I am staying.
The first step in surviving the grind is being mentally tough.
And, I am.
I tended to bring my work (issues, drama, and frustration) home. It annoyed my lovely wife and family to no end. So, I stopped talking about my work life. That made my family happy. But, there was a problem.
I was a mental marshmallow on the inside. Constant thoughts of work made my home life difficult to enjoy. It hung like a dark, thick fog around me 24/7.
It took a fair amount of effort to hide my distress from my loved ones. Thankfully, I am an easy going guy, so I was able to control my emotions.
A beer now and again didn’t hurt either.
I remember looking in the mirror one morning and thinking:
“This is it?”
And, my reflection said:
And, my reflection; like my hair, escaped down the drain.
But, I refused to accept that answer. So, I went in search of a better way. And, I found it.
I read a great story about a dedicated family man who worked hard for his wife and family. He crushed himself at his job. But, he also was a content husband and father at home. I envied him.
Every evening, he would symbolically hang his work problems outside his door like a wet umbrella. Then, he would enter his home to focus on his wife, family, and personal happiness.
It seemed stupid. Still, I had nothing to lose.
So, the next day I did the same. And, it worked.
I kept on doing it for several weeks. A funny thing happened. Slowly, I talked less about work, and I spoke more to my wife and family. Too, I found time to do “all the writing” I had been dreaming of doing.
To be sure, it did not make English teaching some amazing career for me. Make no mistake, I grind away. I have about 14 hours of work ahead of me today.
Welcome to Japan, my friends.
That’s reality here for most foreigners who want to eat more than cup ramen for dinner, English teachers or not.
Yet; I take solace my daily grind starts and stops:
“At the door.”
Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin
“Worrying is like paying on a debt that may never come due.”- Will Rogers