Work Is Not an Occupational Label, It’s Doing What You Really Love
interview, Feb. 2019
Before I wrote an article as as an interviewer/journalist for the first time, my impression of writers were that of Ango Sakaguchi: writing on a manuscript paper while smoking lots of cigarettes. That is, very corrupt and immoral, like attempting a suicidal drawing with a lover. This impression comes from Osamu Dazai (1).
Now I see many writers/interviewers/journalists on social networking services (SNS), such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and my impression of to them has changed. They are all very urban, fashionable, and refined. No one seemed to be decadent. That was a culture shock for me.
Before working as an interviewer in Kakogawa, Hyogo, I was an elementary school teacher. I was born and raised in Nara, and I really enjoyed my school life there: my teachers were all very good and professional; and I think this led me to become a teacher, too. Also, since I was little, I always wanted to be a white-collar worker (though I also said I wanted to be in the FBI, haha). From the eyes of a little boy, an FBI agent and a teacher were the symbols of cool, intellectual jobs.
As I said, I really enjoyed my school life, especially in high school. We had a school trip (2), probably the biggest school event in three years. And on that trip, I planned to make confess my love to a girl in my homeroom class, who was very beautiful with her straight black hair (3). However, it was not an easy plan, because the hotels we stayed in were separated by boys and girls. We stayed on different floors and going to another floor was prohibited. I couldn’t easily meet the girl.
So, what I did was ask friends of mine to keep an eye on the teachers so that they wouldn’t come to the stairs between two floors, and I successfully asked the girl to come to the stairs. But, my success ended there. She refused my confession and my heart was broken, haha. But now, when I look back this time after I became an adult, it has become a good memory.
What was I talking about? Ah yes, after I graduated from college I was teaching at school in Osaka. So why did I quit my job and came to Kakogawa? Well, I changed my job to an interviewer because I wanted a new challenge, and the company I started to work for just happened to be located in Kakogawa.
(Kakogawa train station. Kakogawa (in Hyogo, the west side of Japan) is known as a commuter town of Osaka, Kobe and Himeji. While convenient to go to major cities, people can enjoy the rich nature of rivers and mountains.)
The company had just started a new project to solve local educational problems, and I thought my skills and experience as a teacher would make valuable contributions. That was why I applied for the job.
However, the project failed and I was assigned to a new project: make a website to create a new local community. That’s when I started a website named “palette”, which introduces locals I interviewed and I’m working on until today. For this project, I was successful in some ways, but unsuccessful in other ways.
The company was trying to make a local community of mothers, who were engaged in educational problems most, but I made a new community of freelancers, artists, and students as a result. So, I was laid off and had to find another company to continue my website. Fortunately, I found a new company in Himeji which employed me and invested in my website.
(Enkyoji temple in Himeji, a tourist destination for return visitors to Japan.)
I really like my current job as an interviewer. I enjoy listening to the stories of artists, freelancers and students in Kakogawa, who have various backgrounds and always strive for new challenges. You know, it’s like every day is a happy Friday! While drinking together, I listen to each interviewee’s life story, dream, and future.
I’m interested in pulling out interviewees’ life philosophies, or way of life, by listening to their stories. And after doing this work or a while, I suddenly realized that I was doing the same thing when I was a teacher.
As a teacher, I always listened to students. Sometimes their stories were those of trifling matters for adults, such as when friends did not ask a classmate to play with them, but still I always listened to them eagerly.
Every time I listened, I tried to find a student’s interests and good points, and shared them with other students to increase his/her self-esteem.
And this is the thing I’m still doing today as an interviewer: find a local who is doing interesting work/projects but not yet famous, and share his/her story on the website.
Really, work is NOT an occupational label, such as a teacher or interviewer. Instead, work is the underlying thing you actually do. In my case, it is to find out a person’s good points and interests, and share and spread them to others.
So, in my opinion, if you are not enjoying your work now, ask yourself what you really want to do through your occupation, and achieve it in another way. You don’t have to be stuck with an occupation. This is what I learned from my job change.
To be honest, I also have lots of problems with my work, especially making money. Here, old people tend not to pay me well. In their opinion, people who say “my work is my hobby” or “I make a living by doing what I love to do,” do not need much money for their work (4). I’m pissed off by such an idea, and my next challenge through this work is to change that mindset.
Born in Nara, 1992. Interviewer and chief editor of website “palette”.
1. Ango Sakaguchi and Osamu Dazai are famous modern novelists in Japan. There are some translations of their works. Some modern Japanese novelists are very decadent, influenced by Western novelists and artists.
2. Almost every high school has a school trip for several days. All students in the grade join, and many Japanese high school TV show dramas, animes, and mangas have school trip stories. Popular destinations are Kyoto and Nara.
3. In Japan, people generally make a confession (such as, “I love you” or “Would you go out with me?”) and become boyfriend and girlfriend.
4. In Japan, it is traditionally thought that work is based on patience, or what others don’t want to do, and that is why you are paid. It is said that this idea is one of the factors that caused the Japanese economy to grow tremendously after WWII. Today, this idea is gradually shifting to another idea: people should make a living by doing what they love to do.
Chief editor of mono.coto Japan & Owner of books1016. Lived in the US, China, Germany, Taiwan and HK. Love cookies