Apr 26, 2019
Before I met my husband and we ended up getting married and moving to Japan for his career, I'd literally just worked for two large companies in Australia for the entirety of my working life. I was someone who absolutely appreciated stability and routine, and going out of my comfort zone was a hard sell.
Fast forward to now, having lived in Japan for several years, and I've had to get used to life where the walls of that comfort zone were smashed down. Living abroad means you've got to get used to a whole different way of life, and that extends to work options and environments, too. Despite this, I'd say that my confidence has increased massively in regards to work since living here - and here are a few reasons why.
I've had to find out what I really enjoy doing
Back home I ended up in a career in the financial sector, but I don't think it's ever what I truly enjoyed doing. Sure, it paid the bills, but if we're talking a true passion then finance wasn't it.
Here in Japan I've been able to explore different avenues for work, without the pressure of sticking to what I previously knew. The life of an expat itself lends to newness (and often unpredictability!) but that was freeing in many ways.
I've learned to have faith in the skills I have to offer
Living in Japan has made me the "unique" employee in a lot of situations, particularly in roles where I've been the only (or one of only several) foreign employees. That in itself has been confidence boosting because my skills have been relied upon in a way that back home they seemed run-of-the-mill. I feel like here in Japan I've learned that I do have valuable assets that are helpful in a lot of work environments, and whether we're in Japan longer-term or head back home, I think that self-belief will stick with me.
I've had to become more of a self-starter, and make more of my own opportunities
Back home, I could pick up any job section of a newspaper or search any job website and find multiple positions that I could apply for on any day of the week. Here in Japan that's not always the case - particularly with limited Japanese ability and the fact that we live in the countryside. I've had to be more resourceful when it comes to finding work, including pursuing freelance opportunities myself. This has been eye opening, and has definitely pushed me to be more of a self-starter.
After spending the last several years in the beating heart of Tokyo, I will be spending the next three in the countryside of Japan. I adore this country and all it has to offer - and I'm always learning more and more about life here as I go along!
This was a refreshing read! I was a TESOL instructor for immigrants and university grads seeking test prep courses in my home town before I came to Japan. The kinds of jobs available to me with TESOL diploma and experience, but no MA, meant I was limited to working in high schools. I, too, have learned so much about my capabilities, and have learned about how I can guide young people. TESOL instructors are not exactly common, yet, in Japan. So my skills are in demand in schools. And the big hurdle, working on real mastery of another language has been a big confidence boost. I was conversant in French when I was a student in western Canada, but had never lived in a second language. Here in Japan, I’ve found my voice in Japanese.