“Take time daily to reflect on how much you have. It may not be all that you want but remember someone somewhere is dreaming to have what you have.”
ー Germany Kent
There are just a few hours remaining in 2017, so I thought that I’d take the time to reflect on another year that has passed by in the blink of an eye. Since I probably won’t have the chance to say this to anyone before the new year actually begins, I hope you all have a great New Year’s Eve celebration and that 2018 brings us all positive change, a lot of joy, and new memories.
1. What was one of the moments I was most proud of this year? What does that tell me about what I want to spend my energy/time/money on next year?
In all honesty, I am extremely proud of my students and the overall improvement of their English abilities. All of my life my mom kept telling me that I should become a doctor and/or a teacher, but I adamantly told her (and our relatives) that that wasn’t what I wanted to become. Little did I know, I would grow up to come to Japan, teach English, and find it to be a hidden passion of mine. Surely, this will only lead me to try to do everything that I can to make teaching English as a foreign language a career for myself.
2. Who really enriched my life this year in a big way? Who is someone I am wanting to get to know better in the year ahead?
There have been a lot of people who have enriched my life this year, and so many of the years prior to this one. I could easily name someone I’ve known for the majority of my life, my best friend Stefan, or even my partner who has made me really happy over the past few months, but I think I actually have to name my JTE (Japanese Teacher of English), Mrs. Masabe, for 2017. We have taught alongside one another for three years and she will be going on maternity leave starting this next term (and return around April 2019).
This last year, Mrs. Masabe and I, did not only teach our junior high school students together, but we also started to teach our elementary 6th graders together, as well. She has made teaching English together fun and interesting, and to top it all off, she treats me like an equal, instead of a lower assistant. She gave me opportunities to teach testable material to our students, gave me necessary feedback, and also allowed me to plan for fun activities for our students. Work was such a large part of my life this last year, that I think it’s only necessary to show appreciation for my JTE and all that she has done to allow for me to grow as an instructor.
3. It was a year of resistance for many people. What did I resist most effectively? What did I surrender to?
I think everyone who is friends with me on Facebook knows that I have been quite resistant politically ever since the election results came out in 2016. Naturally, I think that this lead to a lot of open conversations about racism, colorism, and discrimination and I was extra resistant to those around me who tried to spread ignorance and who were questionably silent about the subject. Suffice it to say, I had no regrets over the past year with regards to my posts, however, I do believe that I did surrender, in a way, to those who chose to leave my life because of what I had to say, and to that, I say: good riddance.
4. Who did I feel most jealous of this year? What is that person up to that I want to bring more of into my own life?
I seldom try to focus on wanting what others have, so I can’t be entirely sure if there is a single person that I’m legitimately envious of. I think if-anything, I’ve hit the “grass is greener” effect when it comes to thinking about living within city limits versus in the countryside. That may (or may not) change come April, but regardless, I’ve come to learn to be grateful for what I have (and don’t have) so I’m not really too concerned about that aspect of my life at this moment in time.
5. When was I most physically joyful in 2017? How can I get there more in 2018?
I think that the happiest and most joyful I was within this past year was when I was spending time with friends, while also exploring Japan. I rarely make New Years resolutions, but this last year, I wanted to spend the majority of my time traveling, sightseeing, and meeting new people. I think that the simple fact that I was able to become a member of an LGBT+ Meetup Group, while also making time to meet up with close friends, and also traveling during some of the major holidays, helped make this year quite a positive and successful one.
Next year, my family has plans to go back home to the Philippines, so I’m actually thinking about heading down there when the time comes. Yuki also wants us to take a trip down to Okinawa, and some of my friends invited Yuki and I to go with them to next year’s German Market around Christmas time, so (naturally) I’m looking forward to seeing what 2018 will bring! :)
6. What is one question that you found yourself asking over and over again this year? What version of an answer are you living your way into?
I think I’ve been thinking a lot about the future more-and-more, recently, and a plethora of questions continue to come to me, such as:
- What will I do once I reach my 5th year on JET?
- Should I stay in Nara or move to a bigger city?
- Should I try to continue working for my current BOE?
- How can I become a university-level English professor?
- Should I take online courses or physical ones?
- Should I attend a Japanese university or a non-Japanese one?
- Should I apply for a permanent resident card?
- Do I want to buy a house in Japan? Or should I buy my own car?
- Will a car or a house limit my freedom and financial mobility?
- [Or] Will life make a dramatic shift and move me out of Japan?
Like I said, there are a plethora of questions that have been on my mind recently, but it’s hard to really answer them all at this time. However, I am a planner and an analytical thinker, so I believe that these questions come to me naturally. Time will inevitably tell – but I know that I will land on my feet, if anything ever does turn sour.
7. If 2017 was the title to a book or chapter of your life, what would you call it and why?
If I could, I think I would rename 2017 “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” (a Dr. Seuss classic). Not only was I able to do a lot of solo traveling this past year, but I was also able to visit places I had never been to but always wanted to go to as well. 2017 also came with plenty of hardships, but with positive thinking, I think I was able to overcome a lot of the poor experiences as well. In the end, however, I think the good far outweighed the bad this year, and I can only hope that all of my friends and relatives feel the same way.
“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go…
Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be as famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.
Except when they don’t
Because, sometimes they won’t.
You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)
KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!”
– Dr. Seuss