“I was supposed to marry my ex-fiancé. We were together for four years. Then suddenly, three months before the wedding, she tells me she didn’t love me anymore and that she didn’t want to be with me anymore. Everything was arranged—we had the invites, the date was set, everything. It was the lowest point in my life and I was pretty broken for a long time. I tried to put my life back together after that. And the recovery process made me stronger than ever. It inspired a new train of thought within me. I don’t really care now what people will think of me. That’s part of the reason I came to Japan. Imagine if I had gotten married then. Don’t get me wrong, she’s great and I have nothing bad to say about her. I hope she’s doing good. But I’d probably be married with a kid right now. And at 32, I thought I wanted that lifestyle because I never had a stable family growing up. My parents have been married and divorced twice (so married, divorced, married again, divorced again). So I was really looking forward to that. When it broke, that killed me more. But now looking back, it’s not the end of the world. A relationship breaking up is not a failure. You can let something that you deem to be a failure, the biggest challenges, define you in your life in a bad way. Some people complain a lot about bad things. That’s fine. But I refuse to let anything negative define me.
“Before coming to Japan, I worked in sales for 8-9 years in the UK. It grinds you down after so long. You’re either built for it or not. You sit around chasing money for someone else. And it’s great to get that reward. I drove a nice car, I had an alright salary. I didn’t have to think twice before buying things if I wanted them. I was a recruiter and the recruitment industry in the UK is very high-turnover, high-pressured. All about numbers, numbers, numbers. You think you’re helping someone get a job, but you’re not. You’re there basically to get as much money out of people as you can. And it can be soul-destroying. What you do is phoning people all day, chasing their dollars. It was like The Wolf of Wall Street (people on cocaine, doing crazy things in the office). It was like a snake pit. Everyone’s out for themselves. Some people back stab each other. Now I make way less money as an English teacher in Japan but so much happier. When you stop chasing materialism, everything changes.”