就職活動: almost-post-JET anxiety meltdown doom feel, REFLECTIONS

WAW, an entire YEAR since my last post… dayum the procrastination…..
Here goes:

就職活動 (しゅうしょくかつどう) aka job-hunting.
That was my  biggest worry by the time I’d hit the November of my final year on JET.

It all began when I finally signed to not re-contract with the JET programme. I’d had my fill, done all I could do here and would be going home w/o ill feelings (not much anyway). The time was right.

Right after signing though, the reality of having to search for my next form of sustainance set it. Cue sweaty palms and breathing difficulties. I’m writing this article, well after having left Japan and I realized that my final months on JET were very crucial to document, because I’d seen a lot of blogs writing about the IN JET experience, but very little material was available to me when it was time for me to leave.

This is in no way blaming anyone…but as my blog description might suggest, I’m a theatre-maker at heart. So, having been away from the theatre world for 3 years, I did worry about going back to it.

JET does arrange for job fairs, but these fairs hardly hire anyone in the theatre/creative industry like me. So, those were never really an option.

So, I began talking to people, and thinking about what options I had before me. My only issue with this is, I wished I could be doing this more actively. This is as opposed to curling into myself like a pangolin under attack.

The panic was real and I think a lot of my energy went into worrying about post-JET employment and how I didn’t want to be a NEET or a Hikikomori or a Himo-Onna. You know, one of those people who ends up living off their parent’s money. And, panic rarely helps anyone move forward, so as I might have mentioned this in a previous post, I’d freeze in on myself every time I thought about The Job Hunt.

I think as one of my sempais said though (Thanks Patrick!!!), I was essentially leaving a country, job AND people that I’d known for 3 years of my life. I was going to be taking myself out of a familiar and consistent environment that I’d worked/developed on for 3 whole years.

Now, 3 years doesn’t sound like a very long time in the grand scheme of things. BUT, as someone who’d primarily freelanced for 2 years after graduating from university, that was the longest I’d stuck to one single job. It really WAS a big thing to be walking out of.

At that time though, I didn’t see that at all, and I was just really relieved that about a month or 2 before leaving, I’d gotten an offer and I grabbed it. I’d done a Skype interview, and a few weeks after that I got an email.

Hindsight really is an amazing thing. The gig, really didn’t work out for me, and although I think that programme is an amazing opportunity for people who DO manage to go through with it, it wasn’t a fit for me…So I left…and that’s ok.

What wasn’t ok, I think, was to rush into this so soon. Mind, I don’t regret having said yes, I think it was a good life lesson for myself. But, I think it’s important to check in on yourself, especially when you’re making a major shift in life.

So, currently, I’m doing what I do best, moving at my own pace, talking to people, coming up with ideas, writing proposals, talking to more people and studying my Japanese (I WILL cry if I lose this language). It’s great. Employment as an artist will always be a concern for me. What do I do about my retirement plans? How do I deal with insurance? How can I manage my savings? So many adulating worries which I realize JET took care for me through its program….BUT, I think this is the life I’m also best suited for. Somehow  skipping one rock to another, slowly but surely.

I’m still getting used to being back in Singapore. I never had any major culture shock moving to Japan, but coming back, I feel like I got hit on the head by a bus, a train, a plane, AND  Superman. Singapore is just SO much faster, and I’ve just had to speed up in so many ways.

I miss seeing the open skies, and visiting old people randomly, and getting fresh vegetables and fruits from friends. And the MOUNTAINS. Damn, I miss my mountains…

BUT theatre is great. Every new idea is an adrenaline rush. Meeting people, pursuing my ideas, and FIGHTING for them… I feel like I’m slowing realizing how much I want this to happen and how I’m the only person who can make it happen for myself. There’s no boss/employer/company I can run to, to just “give me” a magical directing job that lets me  do whatever I want to do for a standard 4k a month with pension/CPF contributions and insurance. If I want to do a play, I’ve got to go talk to actors, playwrights, mentors, etc myself. I need to go hunt for the sponsorships and side/part-time jobs.

It’s daunting. But, really, the worst I could get at the moment, is a “No”. More often than not, a SURPRISING number of people have given me “Yes”es or “Let’s talk more”s.

That’s my creative life. It’s the choice I’m making and I have no idea how things are going to pan out next month, 1 year, 5 years or 10 years from now. What JET HAS given me though, is invaluable. There are days when things are NOT ok, but, I’m able to look back (albeit objectively) and think, hey, I can’t be completely incompetent and unemployable because I managed myself well enough in a foreign land for 3 years in a job I WASN’T really trained for.

It’s a nice thought and it helps me pick myself up from whatever shit hole I’m digging for myself to cry myself to sleep it. And I kick myself a little and begin setting myself small goals to move forward.
…………………………….. TLDR…………………………………..
GOING BACK to the whole 就職活動 (しゅうしょくかつどう) aka job-hunting thing though. The point that I guess I’m trying to make after that long self-reflecting monologue verbatim vomit thing is, YOU WILL BE 大丈夫(だいじょうぶ)aka A-OK.

Jobs will always be there. Even at the worst possible scenario, I can wait a table or two if I need something to tide me over for a bit. It will never be the end of the world, unless I let it be….so I guess, remember to look up at the sky (no matter how small it might be in this city state :/ ) and BREATHE.


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