A Year Ago…

coffee productivity

Just over a year ago I was coming home from Boston. Yes, Boston in late winter. Not the best time to visit, but for a city I love, I’d do anything, especially when that anything meant a job interview.

I had interviewed for a position with JET—teaching English in Japan. It doesn’t come up much on the Internet anymore, but I was a Japanese major in college and have loved the language and culture since before I can remember. As a Japanese major, the number one question I always got was “So, you’re going into international relations or going to teach in Japan, right?” It was an idea I had toyed around with, but never committed to. Between pending graduation and the pressure of trying to find a “real” job, a tanking economy and shifting mindset, and a college relationship, I panicked and abandoned the hobbies and passions that made me me.

For a few years I floated through—I got a masters degree in education, a field for which I really never had a passion; I got a well-paying job as a mercenary substitute teacher, though it lacked stability and benefits; and I…existed. Nothing I’ve done in the past few years even registers as a blip on my life’s radar.

And then little things began to sprout.

I don’t know what caused it. I didn’t wake up one morning, throw back the sheets, and proclaim to the open window, “Aha! It’s a new day and a new me!” But little green leaves began to poke through, daring to turn into something more. What that something was, is, it’s tough to say.

I started going out with a trusted friend. We went to exciting restaurants, met people at bars, had conversations. We were daring, but not too daring. I enrolled in a front-end development course, going back to something I had always loved (even though the days of hand-coding tables in HTML are long gone). I went to Boston—alone. And for some reason that’s the single comforting and pivotal moment I can pinpoint.

For someone who always is planning. calculating what the next steps are—”Where will I be in a year? Five years?”—Boston made me confront (it always seems to be Boston where these revelations happen, oddly enough) my expectations. Sitting in a jazz club eating sushi in Cambridge I realized I don’t give a damn. Enough with  meticulously plotting and hoping that stars align. A destination in mind is different than a to-the-minute itinerary and it’s about damn time I learned to be a little more flexible.

I left teaching. I turned down the job with JET in Japan. I took a position at a marketing firm and am now a manager, where I can make change for clients and employees. I have a partner and best friend (and dog!) with whom I can enjoy so much. We have a house now, and just bought patio furniture to soak up the freak nice weather. I’m traveling to London this spring. I’m learning Javascript and Angular. I’m realizing as I’m writing this that I expected to be talking about the things that I am not, and here I am talking about the things that I am.

The answers still aren’t all here. I don’t expect them to be, which is perhaps the biggest difference. I’m still working out where I want to go, but every time I talk about it, the future becomes a little more exciting (not necessarily more clear.) So here’s what I know:

  • I want to work in tech. Coding and building things is something that gives me unabashed joy and a sense of accomplishment. I am building an editing business to help put myself through classes to be a front-end developer. It’s not where I’d like it to be just yet, but you can see the site I built for my business here: http://www.redinkediting.co.
  • Language is my passion, it always has been. From the days of getting booted out of Spanish class bonus games for being the perpetual winner, I’ had a knack for foreign languages, grammar, and nuance. With so much happening with voice technologies these days, I’ve never felt like the words and languages I love have been so important and monumental.
  • I still talk about teaching in the present tense and don’t quite know how to talk about who I am, what I do, and what I care about.It can be part of my story, but it can’t be my present identity. My resume needs a revamp, and I’d like to have a better writing portfolio than this blog that’s becoming increasingly outdated.
  • Writing is something I enjoy, but I don’t consider myself a writer. I certainly don’t want to “create content”. I’d like to still blog, but I miss having genuine conversations like the blog-world used to be (I still love reading Freckled Italian for this very reason.) My Life as a Teacup and I need to have a serious sit-down here soon.

So, that’s life. It’s a lot to swallow and just writing it out helps me organize my thoughts more than anything. It’s crazy to think about so much change in such a short period of time. Boston always seems to be the culprit…

  • Amy

    It sounds like you’ve had an amazing year, Kristin! You can tell from the way you talk about your new career how passionate you are about it. Hope you have a brilliant time in London!

    • Thank you! I’ve definitely woken up to go to work with less dead the past 6 months, and I think my health has thanked me for the less all-the-time stress.

  • Kay

    It sounds like it’s been a very transitional year, in such a positive way! I’m so glad you’re happy, I think it’s great to have direction without having a plan (if that makes sense). Isn’t it funny how bits of us can slip away without noticing? I love how you described those lost bits coming back, as leaves poking through; it’s such great imagery and so beautifully describes that feeling of passions and life desires creeping back in. Wishing you all the best Kristin!

    I very much relate on not wanting to ‘create content’. At the start of this year, I had all sorts of plans for blogging that I quickly realized would make me miserable. So I keep my blog a chatty place now; much more about personal posts and things happening in my life as opposed to helpful or useful content. It’s refreshing for sure.

    • It’s the “chatty” blogs that I LOVE and thing have stood the test of blogging time. Yours is great for that reason! It’s like you can still see the remnants of bloggers who tried to shoehorn themselves a “business” with no real product other than webinars and courses that fizzled away. Some are great, don’t get me wrong, but the trend of blogging about blogging shows in some places more than others.

      And thank you! I’ve made crazy analogies this week, that was probably less confusing than the “I want to visit New England…” one, haha.

  • Good for you! It sounds like you’re in a really good place and I’m so happy for you! Cool job, nice home, awesome guy, and a puppy! You’re living the life, girl! 🙂
    ~Sara

    • Thanks so much, Sara! I was flipping through “old” photos the other day and found the ones from your visit in Pittsburgh we took at the Warhol Museum and I wish you lived closer 🙂

  • It can be really helpful to write out all these plans and goals – helps make them concrete plans for us. I really hope you achieve everything, and I hope you continue to feel strong through big decisions.

    • Thank you so much! It’s amazing how much just writing things down makes them more concrete and real.