I’ve been avoiding writing this post for awhile because of how strongly I feel about it, but I just really need to get it out there.
Ever since I was in high school, it was my dream to go to Japan. Once I studied abroad there, I kept thinking about how to get back. I wanted to do the JET program after I graduated (teaching English in Japan), but it didn’t work out with graduate school. Finally, when I found out I could take students to Japan for Study Abroad, I was ecstatic. I worked with a good friend to make the trip happen.
At work, I’ve defined myself strongly based on this goal. I told all my fellow faculty and students about it. I decorated my office with Japanese paraphernalia, I started making plans for going to Japan every other year and doing my sabbatical there on a faculty exchange program. Faculty see me and ask about the program, send me articles about Japan, send their students to interview for this program.
I cannot tell you how excited I was to go to Japan this past May on my Exploratory trip with my friend/colleague. I talked about it to everyone. I posted photos every day and kept a blog for students to follow.
My friend and I had some conflict on the trip- to me, this seemed a normal part of any friendship, especially while traveling so closely together for so long. But she didn’t feel the same way. Instead of handling it with me, she brought it to the attention to some key people on campus. As a result, both she and I were taken off the trip.
I didn’t know how to feel at first. Partly relieved, because it was amazingly stressful to have the conflict go on for months instead of having it handled between the two of us back in May. Partly pissed, because this didn’t need to be escalated to the extent it was. Partly hurt, because it felt like a really good friend had betrayed me- not just personally, but professionally as well.
Today, I got the email they are sending to students. I’m happy for the students that they will still get to go and the leaders who are replacing us are wonderful people- the students will have a great time with them. But until I read that email it was easy for me to pretend like I was still going. Like I still got to live my dream. But now it’s real. I can’t deny the fact that I’m not taking students to Japan next summer. That I lost a friend.
I have to figure out how to tell people in my professional life. How do I reconcile my enthusiasm and passion for this trip with my inability to go? How will they judge me for being involved with this? How do I make this a part of my narrative in a way that helps me grow and learn ? I honestly have no idea. I’m scared for school to start, scared to see faculty outside of my department on campus and have to talk about this.
I have to figure out where to re-direct my energy. What will I be involved with this year? What will I do with all of this energy and enthusiasm I had for the program? What will my professional narrative be now that Japan has been cut out of it?
Don’t get me wrong- I’m not giving up on my dream. This is a temporary setback- in three years, I’m aiming for it to be me going with the students. I still want to do this program. I still want to do my sabbatical in Japan. I won’t give up.
But I have to sit back for now and watch someone else live my dream. And as much as I know they’ll do a good job with what I built, I can’t help wishing it were me there instead.