Saturday, October 29, 2016

What if success isn't enough?

noun: success; plural noun: successes
  1. the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.

    "the president had some success in restoring confidence"
    synonyms:favorable outcome, successfulness, successful result, triumph
    "the success of the scheme"

According to a quick Google search of the definition of "success", I was successful this last year. 

My goal, or aim, was to go to Japan and learn as much as I could about the language and culture. I also wanted a better understanding of the inner workings machines. 

While I did not make top grades in any of my classes, both in language and technical, I did advance my understanding in both areas. In a class of 144 students, of which 31 students were foreigners from 8 different countries, I was ranked 134th in technical studies. I did not attain my language testing goals, but I was considered, by my instructors and Japanese classmates, to be one of the best in the foreigner class in terms of natural speaking Japanese. 

In regards to my impact in the school, I was selected to be the class representative to receive our graduating certificate. When I asked about that selection, I was told that, of all the students in my class, I exhibited the characteristics the school was trying to pass on to the student body. Things such as hard work, enthusiasm, consideration for others and so on. 

My instructors, my Japanese friends, my family and friends back home, everyone I came in contact with who knew of these accomplishments all consider me to be successful. 

When I returned to the US and my job, I was told that "people are looking forward to working with you" and "we expect great things from you". 

And yet I feel as though I have failed. We are stuck. We cannot move towards the new goal we have set for ourselves: technical translation. Yes, 日本語ペラペラ喋る。I can fluently speak Japanese, but it's not enough. Yes, I understand how to create PLC programs to manipulate machines. I can create useful metal objects with a milling machine and a lathe (even though they are terrifying machines). I even know how to create a pleasing finish on the metal object. I can read electrical and pneumatic maps. 

I know how to do so many things now, but it's not enough. 

I am lost. We are lost. We dream of living and working in Japan for the long term, but we don't know how. We don't know how to keep ourselves from becoming stuck in a rut or following what is expected of us. 

We have a three year contract to work in our company, which is great! Yay job security! But it's choking us. It's terrifying us. We feel paralyzed from not knowing where we are going and not understanding how to move forward. 

On top of that, the internal peace we have so carefully built may not be as sturdy as once thought. Our counselor agrees with this. Yomi has woken up and has decided to remain awake. We have had run-ins with Marie wanting to release the Figurines. We have contemplated searching out our original and bring her home. 

We feel like a failure, yet we keep an optimistic front at work. "I don't know where I'm headed, but I'll get there. No worries!" But we are worried. Deeply worried. 

Because what will happen if we have a breakdown and can't go to work? I'm sure that will violate our contract and then we'll owe our company tens of thousands of dollars. 

What happens if we never figure out what we want to do and never do anything of real importance? What if we never manage to accomplish that other dream of ours... to speak out and make a change against the stigma of mental health. We have started that in small ways... but it's not enough. 

I'm the most successful failure I've ever met. 

And it's not enough.