May 20, 2009

Do Something Because That's What You Want

Looking back, I think there was only one time when I made a life decision because that was what I wanted. I was maybe 15 years old, and that decision was to live abroad while I was still a teenager.

I was scared to just grow up and being molded into something that the adults considered a "decent member of society." I wasn't sure if I was crazy or the island country that I lived in was crazy. I needed to see if this was the way it worked in other countries. Plus, I needed to get a hell out of there. There was no "it will be a great experience" or "it'll look great on my resume"-type of agenda. And it wasn't like anyone suggested that I go live abroad, or I happened to encounter an opportunity to go abroad. There was absolutely nobody who'd support me with that idea. But I made it happen -- just because that's what I wanted. I just wanted it for myself.

So I came to the States when I was 17. But since then, I hadn't made any life decision just because I wanted it. They were made based on whether 1) it was something I needed to do in order to achieve certain goal, whether it was a degree or a career, 2) someone suggested and it seemed a good idea, 3) an opportunity presented itself and there was no reason not to take it, or 4) I knew it was going to make someone happy.

I don't think there's anything wrong with the way I made most of my life decisions. In fact, I firmly believe that by being open to what happens to you (even though you never asked for it) you get to experience something unique and awesome that you wouldn't have thought of yourself in a million years.

But what I recently realized is that you have to do something every once in a while just because that's what you want. Something that you just want to "do" regardless of consequences. Why? Because it gives you a completely different perspective of life. It makes you happy in a way that you were happy when you were a child and played all day.

I'm now pursuing translation as a way to make my living, because I just want to "do" it (and I can't hold other jobs if I wanted to do it in a way I want to, so I'll try to make money while doing what I want in order to avoid needing another job). I'm happy. It reminded me of the time I was trying to go outside of Japan to see what it was like out there. Maybe I'll fail, maybe I'll change my mind, maybe this is ridiculous. But you know what? I don't care.

I used to envy people who knew what they wanted to do with their lives. I used to think I didn't have anything that I felt so strongly about. But I now know that you should never ever give up on finding something, because it makes HUGE difference when you find it.

Well, so I guess this is the end of my "rethinking life after being laid off" period.

Thank you for those who visited here or left a message for me. It was great.

I'm not sure what I want to do with this blog. I'll give some thoughts and write one more post to let you know. If you have any suggestion, let me know.

If you are still unemployed and searching what you want to do, don't ever, ever, give up.
Do what you love.

May 6, 2009

Experience to Know What You Already Understand

It's been a while since I wrote my last post. It's not that I had forgotten about this blog. It's just I couldn't organize my thoughts well enough to write a post. I mentioned in a previous post that I got an interview and said I'd either get it or I'd learn something about myself. That was the reason why I didn't know what to write for a long time.

No, I did not get the job. But oh-my-god, did I learn and realize about myself. Seriously, I see the "after-the-event" me different from the "before-the-event" me. It's hard to explain this to others. If someone tells you his near-death experience or her experience in become a mom, you'd understand it as an event described, but you'd never actually "know" how it is, right? You can read books and books about trust or love, but you'd never "know" what they are until you experience them yourself.

So I'm not sure if there's any point trying to explain it as it really felt to me (besides, I'm not sure if I can explain it well...). But here's what happened:
  • I get a call from a non-profit educational institution that I applied back in February. We schedule an interview. I feel neutral.
  • I get the TOEIC result that says I got a perfect score. I feel very hopeful about my translator career.
  • I get an email inquiry from a translation agency - they want to know if I can take an urgent job. This was out of blue; I did not expect it at all. I had to decline because it was a medical research paper that I wouldn't have understood in English or Japanese. But the whole incident makes me even more hopeful.
  • As I wait for the interview day, I start to wonder whether I should even go through it. I mull this over until I stress myself out.
  • I go to the interview, telling myself that it goes against my principle to turn down any opportunity without getting any details. But at the same time, I know I don't actually want the job to be offered to me because it's the kind of job that I'd like (I applied for it after all), but I couldn't have held this job AND try to work out translation career at the same time.
  • The interview goes really well. For a while, I forget that I didn't want the job. But after the interview, I freak out thinking they might actually offer me the job.
  • I agonize and stress myself out thinking what I'd do I was offered the job.
  • I continue pursuing translation work--learning, practicing, do that volunteer work, etc. I'm starting to feel that I'd be able to decline if I get the job and not regret it.
  • I finally hear back from them and it was "thank you and good luck". I didn't get the job. I feel completely relieved. I'm also completely determined to pursue a career in translation field.

This whole episode shifted something inside of me. I suffered through it, but interestingly (now that I think about it), I didn't do anything to try to take things in certain direction or to make myself do something one way or the other. I sort of stood there and watched my feeling and will to emerge from nowhere (as it seemed) and grow to take a shape by itself. Weird.

I believe that I'm in a physical format on this planet because my spirit or soul (or whatever you'd call it) needs to "experience" in order to really "know" what it already "understands." This is my personal religion. Although I cannot say that I'm doing spectacular job in this regard, this is one of the reasons why I try to be open to anything that comes to me. And this episode gave me an opportunity to "know" something inside of me that I didn't know existed.

So that's the update. Sometimes things move in a way that you don't expect them to or don't wish them to, but if you think of it as an opportunity to experience something that you wouldn't have thought of trying to experience, you might find something inside of you that you didn't know existed, too.