My long, long, 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 very, very, very 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 lifers 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. A grind that 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 big, big, big 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, great, 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 still grind away. I have about 14 hours of work ahead of me today.
(Welcome to Japan, my friends.)
That`s reality in 2018 for most foreigners who want to eat more than cup ramen for dinner (English teachers or not).
Yet; I take solace that my daily grind starts and stops:
At The Door.
Special Guest Writer:
Craig Hoffman is a writer and social media influencer based in Osaka, Japan. He is the force behind the Grey, Grizzled and Gaijin blog.
He can be contacted on Twitter: @CraigHoffman11
Check out his most recent novel, – The “Moore” We Forget – on Amazon!