New life in Japan

I apologise again for the past few months of silence. I figured now would be a good time to add an update on my recent life.

Since my last post in May 2019, I received and accepted an offer from a company in Japan. I didn’t want to talk about it until everything was set in stone, i.e. not counting my chickens before they hatch. Now that I am in Japan for almost a month, I guess it’s safe to say that I’ve successfully passed a milestone in my life.

I remember 3 years ago when I knew almost nothing about the Japanese language. I decided I would pick it up with the intention of being able to converse with Japanese people, consume their media, and ultimately work/live in Japan. I assumed there was a Catch-22 though; I couldn’t find a job in Japan unless I could speak Japanese. And I couldn’t improve my Japanese unless I immerse myself by being in Japan. But my assumption was wrong. It is entirely possible to learn Japanese without ever being in Japan. With the wonders of internet, you can find study material and Japanese language buddies online for free, anytime. The fact that today I have a regular job as a web developer (not an English teacher!), shows that it’s possible to “git gud”.

Now that I’m in Japan, I find myself having less time than I used to have in my previous company. Previously, I worked from home 99% of the time. I lived with my mom, who does all the cooking, laundry, grocery shopping, … literally everything else. I was just coding all day and studying Japanese off-work. Now, since I am alone, I have to do everything by myself now — Registering at the ward office, opening bank accounts, buying Japanese phone and SIM cards, doing the laundry, buying my own groceries/kitchenware/tools, cooking my own food, walking to work, finding a new room…

Many of you may think, it is “common sense” or “natural part of life” to be doing all of the above, but having grown up in a typical Asian family where our parents dote on us (or rather, shield us away from the harsh realities of life), I discovered I am almost unable to function independently of my mom, even though I am already in my 30’s. I can imagine the look of some of you anonymous readers’ faces, thinking “I can’t believe a guy in his 30’s can’t even buy a SIM card by himself!”, but I managed to do everything, through overcoming anxiety, and with the help of clumsy NihonGo. At least I try to comfort myself with the thought that I’ve at least learned something today, “better late than never”.

I think it’s going to take me a few weeks or even months to finally settle down with a routine and improve in both work and art. I haven’t drawn much lately. I promised to some people that I would collaborate with them to draw stuff, but I have just been so exhausted. I also wanted to work on my own programming pet projects, which I don’t have time for either. I couldn’t get in the “zone” at all.

Heck, with a new lifestyle in Tokyo (i.e. triple the cost of living compared to Malaysia), I am saving less money from now on. This means, the only way for me to increase my wealth is to generate more income, rather than save more money. And to generate income, I need time to create.

Some people ask themselves, “how much money is enough?”, and at this point, I can only say “enough to pay for my mom’s welfare, to have my own kids and put them through school”. But that’s quite a short-sighted and simplistic way to put it. I don’t even know if I truly want kids, or whether I’ll ever live long enough with good health. Ultimately I don’t want a stressful life, but I don’t want a leisurely life either. I want a meaningful life — doing something that is worth living for. Right now, I’m (still) lost.

Anyway, I’m alone in a foreign country, barely able to speak Japanese with natives, and have little time and money. We’ll see how things turn out next year. I’m going to focus more on my language first, so I can communicate with natives without feeling confused and anxious every time. Until then, take care, everyone.