Invent Yourself

Posted by David Chester on 28 October 2017

For me, one of the best things about living and working in Tokyo has been the unique opportunity to discover my strengths. I would have never thought I could do screenwriting when I first came here 24 years ago. But circumstances led me to it, and I can say that it has now become my "calling." 

To get to that point, I boldly took on almost any job that I could. In other words: I was here to make money and improve the quality of my life. I didn't really care so much what the job was; I just knew that I had made a commitment to live in the most expensive (or one of the most expensive) cities in the world and if I wanted to even semi-function, I had to have a better income than what I had in Los Angeles. 

You name it, I did it; hence the creation of FIT. I wish it hadn't taken so many years for me to gain clarity on what my "path" was in life. On the other hand, I have incredible experiences and knowledge that I can now bring to my writing. I'm grateful for that. 

So, the point of this post is to goad you to ask yourself the hard questions: what do you want? Who are you? What kind of work/life/partner do you want? Yes, these are general questions... but they will be enhanced/shaded/intensified by your choice to live and work in Japan. 

We cannot say if it would be different had we stayed in our home countries. Maybe. But my feeling is that living abroad brings out inner qualities you may not know you had. Also, living abroad will bring you into contact with people you may have never met otherwise. 

I say take all those experiences and give yourself a hard look in the mirror. Are you who you want to be? Are you an English teacher? Are you an "extra" actor? Are you a "rewriter" for English publications specifically written for the Japanese? Are you getting what you want out of this experience? 

Don't go easy on yourself and don't get too comfortable, otherwise you won't keep pushing and searching and opening doors that may lead you to the magic road that's right for you. 

It's really, really easy to get comfortable in Japan. For many people, they have earned more than they ever have, mass transportation is easy to access, the safety of city streets is still excellent, and food, if you know where to buy it, is affordable. The quality of life in Japan, depending on where you live, can be very high. It's easy to sink into your futon at night and think, "I've got it made!" -- maybe you do. But I'm of the mind that one should never get too comfortable; this advice goes for me, too. 

At any rate, this post is a gentle nudge to keep pursuing your dreams and goals and aspirations; if living and working in Tokyo as a freelancer helps you achieve them, great. If not, don't be afraid to reassess and make a new plan. 

You are your greatest invention.