✥ Lifeline ✥

Roppongi Hills, Tokyo

I wasn’t quite sure about where I was going, what was supposed to be the plan next, after I would eventually, finally, come to terms with the grief of losing my job. To be a hundred percent honest with you, I’ve spent the past few months feeling completely and utterly lost. Completely and utterly scared, too. Sure, I have always wanted to quit my job, I’ve been feeling quite dissatisfied from the get-go with the prospect of me just staying there, teaching English and repeating the same tasks for hours on end indefinitely, slowly but surely wasting away some kind of potential I always knew I had inside of me.
While it’s true I was waiting for an excuse to leave my job, I was also plagued with what they call the impostor syndrome and it was totally paralyzing me, blocking any possible way out. After all, if I didn’t even fit in a lowly part-time English teaching job in Tokyo, where could I possibly fit in this busy city, filled to the brim with other competitive foreigners probably better than me in every aspect. Here, I feel like every other foreigner is better at speaking at English and better at speaking French than I am, even though I am supposedly a native speaker in both languages. I guess it’s the French-Canadian curse that I have to bear and carry along with me well into foreign lands as an everlasting burden. I am not and will never completely be an English speaker since my – sometimes obvious – accent is deeply rooted in the sweetness of maple syrup and the gravy of poutine of a proud French speaking province. Neither am I a French speaker, because of that very same maple syrup and poutine flavored accent, I guess, that makes my mother tongue less desirable in the eyes of French learners who’d rather dream of wine and croissants.

Working in Shibuya

Come to think of it, I guess my husband is right when he says I’m too pessimistic. I do tend to think negatively of myself. All the time actually. Ever since I moved to Japan, I’ve always felt like my confidence in speaking both languages dwindled away after every failed interview I did for a teaching position, and let’s not even talk about my Japanese speaking skills despite living in this country for four years and being married to a Japanese man… Here comes that crappy feeling again. But isn’t the fight to gain more confidence an endless one? At least to me, it feels that way. There is still, and will always be, a long journey ahead of me when it comes to confidence. Even more so after you lose your job involuntarily, though this time Corona-chan could probably take the blame for making my company go bankrupt without consulting me beforehand or asking me if I was finally ready to take the plunge and quit teaching once and for all. How rude.

The thing is, there are not many choices when it comes to working in Japan. Teaching English is more often than not the easy route. Perhaps a good option when you’re a beginner who doesn’t know much about all of this shady business and who’s really just looking for an easy and straightforward way into Japan to get your fix on everything kawaii. It certainly is at first a good, temporary solution. But the longer you stay at this kind of job, the more you grow alienated as you start to understand how they might use your ignorance and your drive to live in Japan to exploit you in some way or another. Companies related to teaching in Japan, I’m thinking about the big Eikaiwas (the English conversation schools), clearly do see their foreign staff as a temporary, disposable resource, based on the mindset that foreigners in Japan don’t know much about anything related to Japan, much less about its working culture and regulations, or that they’re simply in Japan temporarily, anyway. The real problem is when you’re in for the long run and realize you’ve been a dispensable pawn all along.

Like I said, I always wanted to quit, but I was not ready when it finally happened, when they were ready to dispose of disposable foreigner me. It was not the right timing, I was ever so slowly preparing myself mentally, studying diligently for bigger, better projects. But I guess that now that I am free like a wild monkey in a mad, free-for-all, merciless jungle of a megalopolis that is Tokyo, and being that I’m completely stuck here because of the pandemic, now is a chance as good as ever to give a shot at my wildest dreams. Wild years reap wild dreams, too. Don’t they?

The Cherry Blossoms at Yoyogi Park in Harajuku, 27-02-2021

In any case, that’s what makes the most sense to me right this instant and considering how this past year has been a senseless blur, isn’t it good enough? A glimpse of clarity, a snippet of hope in this gloomy nonsense. So here goes nothing. I’ve never felt good enough for anything, but I always had confidence in my writing skills (My writing skills in French anyway, I’m still on the fence about my skills writing in English, hello insecurities) and in my love for Japan. Now that I have a crazy amount of free time on my hands and that I’m prisoner in a country that I used to dream about with teary eyes, I thought it was a good occasion to just try to write about it. I mulled over it for forever now, I really did. I figured out it was time, that maybe writing could be my lifeline and my way to breathe through the suffocating times that we all live in. I want to share my experiences and my thoughts. I want to share the real Japan, the one I’ve been living in, breathing in. I do constantly feel like everything about this amazing country has been already said and done since the popularity of Japan as a cool, trendy and meaningful touristic destination has just been booming along with social media in the past few years. But it’s false. Nothing about Japan has been shared, at least not through my eyes. I don’t know if I can bring anything different, but I can try. I can do it for myself and for you. I can help you travel through my words.  You can experience Japan through my ordinary, mundane life and see for yourself the good, the bad, and the ugly of this unbelievable world that I live in.

So here goes nothing. A shot in the dark. A lifeline.

Thank you for sticking along. Really. It means the whole wide world to me right now.

– Lisa Poirier
✥ Maple & Sakura ✥

Disclaimer: All the pictures used are mine.

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