Posted by David Chester on 7 June 2017

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I was interviewed today for an upcoming (hopefully) review of FIT in Metropolis, one of Tokyo's oldest English-language weeklies (print, and now online). The interviewer had carefully prepared her questions and it was a great morning in which I was able to share what I thought was of value for those who continue to define themselves as freelancers in T-town. 

What I came away from the interview with is: There are so, so many alternatives to "English teaching" -- and yet, because positions as English teachers can be obtained fairly easily, people glom on to them quickly and then hold on to them, sometimes too long, at the expense of other job opportunities that they might discover if they were willing to give themselves a chance. 

So, in brief, because we are all busy running around trying to make our yen grow: Don't underestimate yourself. Tap into who you are and what your gifts are. Find avenues in which you can put those gifts to use. Don't wait for others to "discover" you. "Make them come to you," which is one of my favorite quotes from my teacher and mentor, Ellen Sandler, a former writer/producer for the "Everybody Loves Raymond" TV show. 

Freelancing can be fantastic, as long as you stay on top of it. Create situations where you pursue your own dreams while doing other jobs that pay well (many of which are mentioned in FIT), until those dreams start paying the bills. It can happen. It's finally starting to happen for me with screenwriting. Yes, there is a lot of juggling, but if I didn't seek out alternatives to the narrow, tried-and-true paths that many English-speakers find themselves on in Tokyo, I don't know if I would be where I'm at today. 

Alternatives: Think about the word for a minute and ask yourself what you can bring to the table. I bet it's a lot more than you imagine.