It’s all starting to come back to me now: working the 9-5, staying in one place, being content without travel. Such is the power of American culture. I can honestly say the first time I left the US after graduation, it wasn’t due to the draw of the outside world; I was simply unemployed and out of options, and Japan held a certain fascination. The same was true before my departure for South Korea, but with even more of a sense of desperation. Ironically, the reason I left for the ROK is the same one I’m using to stay stateside: I want my own bed; I don’t want to have to resort to staying with my parents; I want a job, something to do to occupy my time.
In that sense, I think I’m at a stage right now in which I don’t believe I have to work a position that completely satisfies my passions. If I were to return to Japan, it wouldn’t be because I’m enthralled with teaching English. I would simply use the opportunity to enjoy my own space, write my book, and appreciate being abroad (granted, that might wear thin after a few months). It would be nice to be in front of train stations, exchanging business cards with passersby, now knowing the proper etiquette.
When I was in this same position six years ago, I believed I could continue using Craigslist to work a variety of jobs almost indefinitely. Well, other people figured that out, too. Now it’s a rare day I can find a gig that hasn’t been commandeered by over one hundred people within an hour of posting. Although it’s a stupid risk, people make far riskier choices with their money every day; I only have to worry about my well being, and they have wives, husbands, kids, sick parents.
There are a few major issues that have been floating around my head since my return a few weeks ago. Health insurance, at least emergency coverage, is still out of my reach. If I had had any sort of injury or pre-existing condition, you can bet I’d be working at Starbucks or going broke trying to cover expenses. The job, of course… wherever it is. Being close to family for the holidays; my brother’s wedding is in June of next year.
I’m too independent for my own good. I want to reap the benefits of networking, yet am so resistent to people not living my lifestyle (if I see them, I always try to convert them). I hate myself so much for Couchsurfing in Boston, as I believe a 30-year-old man should be in a position in life to afford a hotel room for a few days. Sadly, short of charging the entire trip, it’s beyond my financial reach. I know there’s something to be said for meeting new people and saving money, but when a situation arises like the one I’m in now (staying with an overly talkative pot-smoking CSer), I just feel so despondent, like everything else is going wrong.
This is about where I was in 2006: running in place. Seizing opportunities at every moment, but ultimately not moving down the path I set up in my mind. If I could find a position in the US that would recognize all my experience abroad as time well spent, I believe I’d truly be happy.