Sunday, November 11, 2012

Why am I in Japan?

This is a question I'm getting a lot, from all sorts of people.  There are a few reasons:
  • My "home office" told me that there were no projects in the pipeline that would require junior associate support for the next six months.
  • After spending nearly two years in two Southern California offices of my firm trying to best integrate myself in the workflow, but I feel like I have failed.  There are no other Southern California corporate associates in my class year or the one below me and I have been told (repeatedly) that it's not a problem with my work, it's a problem with the workflow and a problem of clients not wanting to pay for junior associates staffed on deals.  I couldn't think of anything else to do to try to improve the quality of my work experience from that location.
  • My lateral options have been diminished by the poor volume and variety of my work experience at the Southern California offices.  Staying longer would only put me further behind in terms of skill and chip away at my earning power (and more importantly, my ability to score an interesting and challenging job in the future).
  • The Tokyo corporate group was looking for extra hands at my level for about a year.  A year here will help me catch-up in terms of work experience.
  • In Tokyo, the firm pays for corporate housing and a per diem (a form of COLA), allowing me to dramatically accelerate my debt repayment and savings for a year.  This will give me more freedom when it's time to make the next career move.
Really, this opportunity was a lifeline as far as protecting the market value of my law degree is concerned.  Because I don't have a husband or kids (and Ben, my long-term boyfriend, apparently has no interest in getting engaged any time soon), I was in a unique position to jump on the opportunity.  I am thankful.  For the lifeline, for the job, for the ability to pay my bills.  And for the adventure.

But it's still pretty tough.  I don't speak Japanese.  I don't blend in.  I left my dogs, family and friends behind.  I miss Ben something fierce.  I am putting off any chance at getting married and having kids yet another year at a time when, frankly, I don't have much time left.  There is nothing wrong with Tokyo, it's just lonely.  Sure, I want to protect my earning potential, but I want to be settling down and starting a family.  I decided that because I had no immediate opportunity to do that, I would come to Tokyo.

I hope, when I look back at this decision years from now, that I feel like I made the right decision.


CP said...

I'm sure you'lllook back and see it as a unique adventure. I wish sometimes that I had been given and had taken more opportunities like yours before I rushed into marriage and kids.

That said, I know how you feel about Japan being lonely. I visited there in highschool with a friend. I felt so out of place. I got so tired of attracting attention, looking different, and being reliant on others for getting around.

I hope this adventure gives you all the opportunities you need to land your next job!

Anonymous said...

Wow. I give you a ton of credit. It doesn't sound like had an easy decision to make. But you are doing it and it sounds like you did the best thing for your future.

You have plenty of time for husband and kids. You clearly have a need to fulfill at the current moment. Don't question yourself. Give Japan time. You will blend in eventually. Try to have some fun while u r there! :)

Paragon2Pieces said...

thanks ladies!

@legalballerina I'm turning 32 in a month and starting to worry that my eggs will expire before I get a chance to use them.

LP Sutton said...

I'm with legalballerina: you've got guts to pick up and leave for a place like Tokyo, especially when you don't speak the language. And I can imagine that it is lonely at times. Hopefully, you'll get some terrific work experience and meet a few friends while you're there. It could totally be one of those things that turns out to be unexpectedly wonderful.

Anastasia said...

I'm going to smile when you meet the love of your life either in Tokyo or as a result of having been there. You might be looking at this as a career move, but the universe can work in mysterious ways. :-)

Anonymous said...

Ehh - I know ladies well into their 40's having kids. Don't sweat it. :)

Paragon2Pieces said...

Thanks for the support ladies!