So the past few days have really taken a toll on my mood.

I am generally a very happy person, and I never really stay in a bad mood for long. But the holidays, homesickness, stress at work, all of them combined into a neat package and made me start rethinking all my decisions. The good thing is, I’m not alone.

See, we JETs have a contract for a year, and we can renew it to stay up to five years. I knew I wanted to stay a long time upon coming. I will have time to save money and work a relatively easy job (that turned out to be a lot more difficult that I thought) and I can travel more easily around Asia and Japan and I am going to do graduate school online. I need a master’s degree if I am to work in a university doing study abroad, which is my dream. So I can earn one while saving money instead of spending it on a dorm or apartment. My rent here is really cheap.

Well, all of the rationale behind me coming here went out the window when I hit the inevitable Stage Two of culture shock. Those of you who have not had culture shock, trust me, it’s worse than it sounds. Stage One is the “Yay! Wow! Cool!” stage. Everything is shiny and bright and new. Stage Two is the “what have I gotten myself into? Everything is so stupid here… ugh they do the weirdest things here and I just want to go home” stage. Stage Three is the “… well yeah it’s different but I can see why they do that” moving-on-up kind of stage. Stage Four is all “Ahhh I feel so at home here! I never want to leave!”

So I didn’t hit Stage Two for a long time. I thought I might skip it all together. But I’ve been in slumps similar to this one a few times, although they ended pretty quickly after a good night of stand up comedy on youtube.

But last night I was seriously considering not signing the contract again. Considering leaving and going home. I just felt this bleak abyss in front of me and knew I wasn’t going to be happy here in the long run. No, thought.

But today I spent the day at the office and it was fun! I got to put up the Christmas tree and read Insurgent and study Japanese. It was a productive and fun day, and I got to laugh with my coworkers. And I found a Go center in my town. Go is an ancient board game, and actually one of the biggest reasons I wanted to start learning Japanese was because I watched a show called Hikaru no Go in high school.

So I realized I just need to do things outside of work and apply for my online grad program and start thinking of this as a growing experience, not something that is holding me back. No, I don’t want to teach English forever, and no, I don’t have great relationships with my all my teachers at the moment. But I’m so happy I have lovely coworkers and fellow JET friends and my family and friends back home willing to encourage me.

I have amazing books to read and I have a book I just wrote, and I’m doing things I enjoy. I just need to remember that.

Stress messes with your brain. You think it’s always going to be this bad and start panicking.

But it won’t be. I promise.

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