Avoid Burnout During Your Job Search

Looking for jobs right now is HARD.

Really, it’s exhausting.

In the beginning, perhaps you felt hopeful. This was your chance for a fresh start and a welcomed change of pace. Or maybe you were let go unexpectedly and found yourself fighting to stay afloat and keep your unemployment benefits. Regardless, after months of job searching, it’s easy to burn out from stress. Your mental health becomes strained as you watch your prospects dwindle while others around you seem to find work with ease. At least, it seems that way. But you’re not alone.

Continue reading “Avoid Burnout During Your Job Search”

We Can’t Walk Home

cover art by Nina Aragon

Hey guys this is Margaret again from the future with a disclaimer. I apologize there was no episode last week. As you can tell by the sound of my voice, I have not been feeling well. Fortunately, it’s just a sinus infection and not Covid-19 or the flu.

During allergy season, I get very congested and have tons of drainage because I am allergic to grass. It’s unpleasant, and I just haven’t felt like doing much, so I thank you for your patience in waiting for this episode to come out. Once I am better, episodes will definitely be more consistent. 

Continue reading “We Can’t Walk Home”

Sobriety in Your Twenties

Hello, everyone! Before I get into today’s podcast, I have decided to transcribe episodes of “Get Unbothered”. I will type each episode and upload them to my blog to make an experience that is more inclusive to the d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities and preferred readers! I am starting with this week’s episode, and the transcribed versions of new episodes will release the same day as the audio.

Continue reading “Sobriety in Your Twenties”

Podcast Transcriptions

Hello, everyone!

Going forward I will be transcribing episodes of my podcast, Get Unbothered.

Each episode will be typed and formatted to make an experience that is more inclusive to the d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities and preferred readers!

Beginning March 18, text versions of new episodes will release the same day as the audio right here on the blog. 

It may take some time to get older episodes posted becauseI cannot afford to have someone help me. If you know of any free or low-cost software transcription services, please let me know.

Thank you!

Starting a Podcast!

New Art Coming Soon!

Hello, lovely readers! I apologize for my incredibly long hiatus. I’ve been so busy lately with training my puppy, working on other projects, job interviews, and taking care of my mental health, that I have severely neglected my blog. However, I do have some exciting news—I started a podcast! And it was easier than you might think.

Anchor is a free, super user-friendly way to record, edit, and distribute your very own show! You can even insert paid ads to get the most bang for your buck and eventually unlock lucrative sponsorships. I love how intuitive everything is, and I’m so excited to grow my show. Last week’s episode is all about getting through a quarter-life crisis, so if you’re young and confused like me go check it out!

Personally, I don’t care if I have 10 listeners or 100, but it’s super satisfying to sit down and chat about different topics with my friends audience. “Get Unbothered” is a show where I discuss my journey to get the most out of life by leveling up, letting go of the BS, and practicing a bit of self-care. I share what I wish I’d learned sooner and tackle topics like mental health, women’s issues, self-growth, and more. It’s very personal, and I strive to create an environment that feels authentic and inviting, like sitting down to chat with your best friend about life. In reality, it’s just me rambling about whatever is on my mind that day, much like this blog!

Going forward, my plan is to make the blog and podcast at least somewhat interconnected. Due to Covid-19, traveling is still off the table for now, but I promise to share more adventures in the future when it is safe! For now, I’m focused on all the learning and growth I can achieve from the comforts of my bedroom under a very fuzzy blanket. I hope you all will stay tuned for more updates!

You can listen to the show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your shows! Also, check out the Instagram for regular updates and cute puppy pics!

My Wardrobe as a Female ALT in Japanese Elementary Schools

Wow! It feels like forever since I left for my placement in Niigata. 2020 has really warped my perception of time. But, anyways, if you’re here, you probably want to know what the heck you should pack for your new job as an assistant language teacher. Keep reading for my essential packing list!

In the weeks leading up to my departure, I scoured the internet for information on teacher dress codes in Japanese elementary schools. I knew styles in Japan are significantly more conservative than the US, but I wasn’t exactly sure what kind of clothing I should bring. I needed professional attire for orientation, but what would my contracting organization expect me to wear on the job? Plenty of men wrote about their experiences, but I only found a handful of posts written by women relating to the topic. Many repeated the overused expression, every situation is different, and suggested purchasing most of your clothing upon arrival to Japan. In some ways, this made sense. I could save space in my luggage and buy exactly what the other ALTs in my city recommended. If you’re a petite person with an urban placement, I’d say this is your best bet.

However, having been to Japan before, I knew it would be difficult to find pants and button-up blouses that fit me correctly. I’ve got a fuller chest and larger hips compared to the average Japanese woman, so assembling a good work wardrobe would take some time. I didn’t want to risk not having the essentials, so I stocked up on a few basics I knew were necessary.

This isn’t an exhaustive packing list, but hopefully it can give you an idea of what to bring:

  1. Business professional suits. I opted for two consisting of basic white blouses, a black blazer, and matching dress pants. I wore these during orientation and on the first day of school because a good first impression is everything!
  2. Appropriate work bottoms. I packed 2 pairs of black lightweight slacks for the summer heat, 2 pairs of boot-cut dress pants in gray and black, and 2 maxi skirts. Some websites insisted women have to wear pantyhose under even a full-length skirt. Perhaps in some schools this is true, but fortunately I never had to.
  3. Conservative work tops. Aside from the aforementioned white blouses, I also purchased appropriate, full-coverage blouses in various colors. It’s a good idea to have a mix of short and long sleeve options, but remember to keep your shoulders covered.
  4. Moisture-wicking camisoles and undergarments. Wear these under your blouses to keep your bra from showing and stay cool in the summer. UNIQLO’s airism line is my favorite. Their cooling fabric is a life saver during the hot summer months when you’re sweating buckets.
  5. A fun blazer. Black is the traditional color, but it can be a bit boring. I brought a patterned blazer with me to mix things up.
  6. Indoor shoes for work. In Japan, teachers and students store their indoor shoes in a locker at the school entrance. This means you’ll be changing your shoes when you enter and exit the school. Women with feet larger than a US 8 will have a harder time finding their size, so bring a pair or two with you. I opted for a pair of black dress shoes to wear at orientation and formal events, adidas superstars for getting around outside, black slip-ons as my indoor shoes, hiking boots, and a pair of sandals. I was able to find a few shoes that fit me in Japan, and I am a size 9. I think people with urban placements are most likely to have success in this department.

I tried to choose pieces that were functional for Niigata’s climate and could easily be mixed and matched to increase their wearability. Keep the weather of your placement in mind. Summers, in general, are especially hot and humid. Winters can be quite cold, especially in the northern regions. Do some research and plan accordingly. Fortunately, once you arrive, you’ll have plenty of time before the seasons change. Start with the basics. You can always buy additional clothing once you get to Japan. Even if you are a little curvier like me, there are extended sizes online for many popular retailers. After a month or two, you should have a feel for the gaps in your wardrobe, and you can buy more of what you need. If there’s something you never wear, don’t hesitate to sell it at a second-hand store for extra cash.

Please note that Japan is much more conservative than many countries in the West. Some schools require teachers to wear formal attire at all times and ban hair dye, makeup, piercings, and tattoos. Other schools are more relaxed. I’ve seen teachers dressed to the nines and teachers rocking a track suit. The nurse at my Thursday school boasted purple hair while teachers at my Wednesday school (including me) wore suits every day. You’ll get a better idea of your situation once you actually start work. Remember, JET is as much of a cultural exchange program as it is a teaching experience. Don’t completely stifle your style just to fit in with everybody else, and don’t forget your casual clothes too. You won’t be working all the time!

Once I settled into my job, I was able to start wearing more of what I wanted. I loosened up and used white sneakers from Muji as my indoor shoes for comfort and purchased more wide-legged soft pants that paired nicely with my tops. I also got a small tattoo in Tokyo, and I found it very easy to cover while working and visiting onsen.

My final tip is always have an umbrella in your bag in case it rains, especially for the rainy season! You will be so happy you did.

I’m no longer a JET, but I hope this list helps anyone aspiring to teach in Japan this year or next. Good luck!

Minimalism for Better Mental Health: My Journey to Creating a Capsule Wardrobe

assorted-color apparels
photo by Sarah Brown on unsplash

Hello, friends! Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of Tidying Up With Marie Kondo for Japanese listening practice and decluttering ideas. I highly recommend her method if you want to maximize space and learn how to properly fold your clothes—apparently, I’ve been storing my undies wrong for years. The show, which is quite relaxing and therapeutic to watch, inspired me to do some cleaning of my own. As a result, I began to research minimalism and found myself drawn to its simplicity and supposed mental health benefits.

My family is anything but minimalist, and I grew up thinking I needed tons of clothes and decorative stuff to fill every empty space. My late mom had several closets full of evening gowns, colorful sweaters, and costumes for every occasion as well as a vast array of knickknacks and collectables: my personal favorite of these being a Princess Diana doll draped in a blue velvet dress encased in glass. For the past several months, I’ve been cleaning out her belongings and deciding which items of hers hold enough sentimental value to keep. This process prompted me to start looking at my own junk. I managed to survive with a lot less in my small Japanese apartment, so what did I really need? How many pairs of ill-fitting jeans were necessary to have? Should I really head over to the Sephora app to buy another holy-grail cleanser when I hadn’t finished the three others on my bathroom sink? In my search for answers, I stumbled across a few YouTubers who make videos about minimalism, and they inspired me to try out a capsule wardrobe. Use Less is one of my favorite stylists who helps her viewers find a fun and minimal approach to their wardrobes.

For those of you who don’t know, a capsule wardrobe is a smaller collection of clothing that can be mixed and matched to create a wide variety of everyday outfits across the four seasons. There are lots of different ways to achieve this, and some people are more strict than others. If you want to know more, a quick google search can give you lots of information and ideas. For me, the biggest appeal of a capsule wardrobe is having more options with less clothing. Every piece serves a purpose and is something you feel great in. There’s no room for that shirt you bought on sale but still has the tags attached or the pants from college you swore you’d squeeze into again someday.

A capsule wardrobe can help boost your confidence because you aren’t surrounded by clothing that discourages you and takes up space. I sometimes spend an hour or more getting dressed because it seems as if nothing in my closet fits quite right. And while some clothes technically do button or zip, they just no longer represent my personal style. If you don’t absolutely love something or have a practical need for it, why let it take up space? About a week ago, I purged around 40% of my wardrobe and even made some money selling clothes that were still in good condition; the rest, I donated to a local thrift shop. (Although, there’s still a lot more I need to give away or repurpose.) Additionally, I took some denim that had become a bit too big in the waist to an alterations shop. While I thought parting with so many of my clothes would be difficult, it was honestly quite therapeutic, and I’m beginning to think there’s something beneficial about having fewer items in my wardrobe.

For me, the state of my bedroom is often a direct result of my mental health. If the laundry is piling up, the bed isn’t made, and my dresser is cluttered with stuff, then I need to check in with myself and figure out what’s going on. When I’m stressed or depressed, the last thing I want to do is clean, and organization has never come naturally to me. But, when things get too messy I feel even worse, and sometimes the clutter overwhelms me so much I shut down until I can bring myself to complete one massive super cleaning session. The cycle is exhausting. I’ve always wondered how I could beat it, and minimalism seems like it could be the answer. While I have plans to reduce my total belongings over all, looking at what’s in my dresser and closet seemed like the best place to start. For you, the kitchen or bathroom may be better. It’s all up to your personal preference.

All my life, I’ve prioritized having things for their cool factor and sentimental value. Stuffed animals, figurines, skin care products, video games, movies, bags, and lots and lots of clothes: you name it, and I probably have too much of it. Getting something new always gave me a satisfying rush. But, of course, the feeling never lasted long. As I move forward in my journey of adulthood, I’d really like to par down what I own so that I can truly appreciate what I’ve been blessed with. I want my future purchases to be out of positive intent rather than angsty impulse. I also no longer want to contribute to fast-fashion trends, which is detrimental to the environment and often exploits factory workers.

I know it’s a long journey, but I’m done stressing over clutter, getting dressed in the morning, and feeling insecure. I want to focus on experiences and moments rather than things. This is a lesson many of us learn as kids but slowly forget as we grow up in a world full of consumerism. Even online, there’s no escape from the constant barrage of advertisements telling us we need more stuff to be happy. Weight loss products, skin treatments, hair serums, booty-lifting jeans, the list goes on. I’m not saying these things are inherently bad, but we shouldn’t feel guilted into buying them because we see a perfect looking, photoshopped instagram model promising fantastic results if we just try this meal-replacement shake or those fat-burning pills. Reducing my social media use has stopped me from comparing myself negatively to others and impulse buying products to temporarily quiet my feelings of inadequacy. Check out my last post to read more about my social media detox journey.

In life, I think it’s important that we focus on our own growth and not compare ourselves to everyone else. Of course, we can look to others for inspiration, but be mindful of how you feel when you see certain things. If an Instagram account makes you feel worse about yourself, unfollow and it replace it with a more positive channel. And, if you see something you want, put it in your shopping cart and leave it for a few days or weeks. If it’s something you truly want and know you’ll use, then purchase it. This will save you a lot of money over time.

If you have any tips, ideas, or recommendations about minimalism and capsule wardrobes, please drop me a message! And what’s something you absolutely can’t live without? I’d love to hear from your experiences.

Once my capsule wardrobe is complete, I’ll be sure to share photos and updates.

Have a great day, and thanks for reading!

Detox Your Life (No Juice Cleanse Required)

Hello, friends! Thanks for dropping in. I hope you’re all staying safe and enjoying your week. Today, I want to talk about something a little more personal. Since we’ve all been in quarantine with little to do, I’ve been on yet another introspective journey to detox my life, heal from past trauma, and fall in love with myself. Hopefully, some of my experiences will resonate with you and maybe even help you on your own path.

When I abruptly and unexpectedly returned from Japan to the States a few months ago, I was hit with a brutal reality check. I didn’t have a job or future plan, the economy was a disaster, and most cities were on lockdown. It was scary. And if that wasn’t awful enough, racism and police brutality continued to divide the nation. Everything felt completely out of control, and my depression and anxiety came back with a vengeance. Even though I had plans to be productive and make the best of a bad situation, I was overwhelmed with stress and shut down. On good days, I submitted job applications, cooked, and spent time with loved ones (while wearing our masks of course.) This helped a lot, but my moods were still all over the place.

Most of the time, I either felt completely hopeless or on the verge of a panic attack. Some days were ok, but then I’d see something on the news or social media and lose it. Isolation certainly didn’t help either. I experienced guilt and shame for my erratic emotions when I knew that millions of people were dying by violent acts of racism and a deadly virus we still know next to nothing about. My brain would spiral out of control with worry and self-loathing and then chastise me for it. How do you still not have a job? You’re gaining weight again. You’re a financial burden on your family. You don’t have it that bad. Be grateful for what you have. Stop complaining, you’re pathetic. I thought I was picking myself up by the bootstraps and getting a grip on things, but in reality I was beating myself down and destroying the confidence I worked so hard to build while living abroad. At the end of even a good day, I still felt broken and lost.

Something needed to change. Eventually, I knew I had to get help. I went to the doctor to test my hormones and rule out any physical illnesses. Fortunately, everything returned normal, so I got a referral to see a psychologist. While waiting for an appointment, I decided to actively focus on myself and get back into practicing self-care. I couldn’t control anything around me, but I could control my actions.

Quarantine really forced me to re-evaluate my goals and figure out what I wanted and didn’t want in life. As I took a closer look at some of my habits, I was surprised by how many ‘toxins’ I was allowing to drag me down. Once I began to eliminate more of the bad and add more of the good, I felt lighter and freer to focus on my growth and recovery. This wasn’t the first time I’d worked on myself, but I knew I needed to do more. It wasn’t easy, but by detoxing my life, I was able to start processing my trauma instead of suppressing it. This is crucial because if we don’t do this, we can never move forward, and we will constantly repeat the same, tired mistakes again and again. Old habits die hard after all.

I realized most of my negative choices were influenced by difficult past events—and these choices became unhealthy coping mechanisms serving as a diversion from dealing with my deeper problems. I thought I’d successfully worked through a lot of my issues, but new trauma often triggers the old, forgotten wounds we put bandaids on and left to fester. Although I am still on the wait list to receive professional guidance, I’ve begun to help myself, and that is the first step to getting better. Growing up is a never ending process, and everyone handles their emotions, trauma, and baggage differently. Despite my mistakes (I’m only human after all), I’m already so proud of how far I’ve made it in the last few years. I can’t wait to see where I am a few years from now.

Lately, I’ve tried to detox my life so I can focus on healing and growth. I had quite a few vices, and eliminating/reducing them has helped me significantly on my journey. Here are five very important things to assess in our lives anytime we need to put our health first:

  1. Social media– If you’re like I was, you’re probably addicted to checking all your profiles. I could waste hours on various sites and read five or six news articles easily just while in the bathroom. I was spending so much time on social media, and I noticed I always felt worse about myself after a long scroll. Unconsciously, I was unfairly comparing my life to both people I knew and hot-shot influencers who seemed to have it all. People only share the good on social media; it’s hard to remember real life isn’t quite so glamorous. On top of that, I was suckered into purchasing unnecessary products that promised things like weight loss and longer hair. My social media use wasn’t healthy at all. I decided to delete all my apps and go cold turkey. If I wanted to log on, I’d have to use my computer instead. This drastically reduced the time I spent online, and I was surprised by how much of a difference it made in my life. I’ve been more productive, felt more confident, and had more personal interactions with friends. Try deleting for a week and see how you feel. If you don’t think you can fully let go of Instagram or TikTok, most phones allow you to limit your use of certain apps to a few hours a day.
  2. Alcohol– As a junior and senior in college (and even a recent grad) I drank a lot. That’s what everyone else around me was doing, and it was fun. I liked going out and dancing with friends. The buzz I got from a drink or two made me more social and less anxious about what others thought of me. But things started getting out of control when I began using alcohol as an escape from my problems. After my loved ones approached me with genuine concern for my well-being, I knew I needed to cut back big time. I still have a drink or two occasionally, but alcohol is not a regular part of my life anymore. Although I came to this realization over a year ago, I’ve had to consciously keep myself in check because I used to drink as a coping mechanism, and that’s a mistake I never want to repeat. Alcohol is a toxin to the body, and it doesn’t do any favors for our livers, kidneys, skin, waistlines, or brains. I’ve saved money, lost weight, and felt overall happier and more in control since I stopped drinking all the time.
  3. Toxic People- I started eliminating toxic people from my life as I’ve gotten older, and it’s really made a difference in my mental health. Admittedly, this is something I struggle a lot with, and I’m continuously working on learning how to identify toxicity in others and myself. Letting go of relationships is very hard for me because I have some deep abandonment issues (lol thanks mom and dad). I tend to blame most interpersonal issues on myself, and I’m constantly wondering what I did wrong while not holding other parties accountable for their actions. I prefer to be a peacekeeper and avoid conflict at all costs. This means I struggle with setting boundaries, and I can be overly sensitive and a pushover. I’d rather help fix others than focus on my issues. However, now that I recognize these weaknesses of mine and understand where they come from, I can actively work on improving and changing my behavior. Everyone is a little toxic, and most relationships hit bumps in the road. But, if someone does not respect your boundaries and leaves you feeling emotionally drained even after you’ve clearly expressed how their actions make you feel, it’s healthy and normal to end the relationship (romantic, familial, and platonic alike). It’s also normal to mourn toxic relationships. You may feel sad and lost, but we grow through the pain, and removing the weeds from our gardens means more flowers will grow around us. It’s equally important to identify the toxic traits in ourselves. A therapist or close family member/friend can help with this process. We all make mistakes, but it’s never too late to change our ways and become the best version of ourselves possible.
  4. Smoking– Not much needs to be said here. There are no health benefits to smoking, and even smoking marijuana is bad for the lungs. If you need help quitting, there are many resources and medications to try.
  5. All-nighters– Our bodies need sleep. Staying up late all the time is a recipe for disaster. My mood is always low when I don’t get eight hours of rest, and I find myself eating more unhealthy foods throughout the day to keep my energy levels up. Adopting a puppy has forced me to keep a regular sleep schedule, and I’ve noticed it’s really made a positive difference in my day. You can read more about the benefits of having a dog here!

We all have our struggles, and it’s important not to beat ourselves up for having a cigarette or eating a tub of ice cream at midnight on a Tuesday. All we can do is move forward with a positive attitude and try again. Success doesn’t happen without failure. I’ve failed many times, and I will continue to do so. As long as I learn from my mistakes and keep improving, I challenge myself to accept imperfection and love myself flaws and all.

In addition to removing toxic elements from our lives, it’s also important to give ourselves enough of the good things we need to thrive. I’m not perfect, but I’ve tried to incorporate the following things into my daily routine:

  1. Healthy foods- Now is a great time to practice cooking at home with lean meats, fruits, and vegetables. Instead of obsessing over what you should cut out of your diet, focus on adding colorful, nutrient dense foods to the menu. Fill up on healthy snacks and meals that keep you feeling full and satisfied. But don’t beat yourself up over every cookie or potato chip that crosses your path.
  2. Movement– Even if we can’t go to the gym (or don’t want to go to the gym), find ways to move throughout the day. Gardening, dancing, pilates, and hiking are great ways to keep your mind and body healthy. Endorphins boost our moods and regular exercise keeps our bodies from developing problems as we age.
  3. Knowledge– Try to learn something new every day. Read a scientific article about something that interests you or sign up for an online class. Learning a new language or fun fact everyday keeps the brain active and stimulated.
  4. Water– Hydration is so important. Keep a water bottle with you at all times and drink throughout the day. It’s amazing how much better this can make us feel.
  5. Positive thoughts and people– Surround yourself with people who love and support you in a healthy way. Stay in touch with FaceTime, Zoom, or socially distant, small gatherings. Also, try to eliminate the negative self-talk we are all guilty of. Replace bad thoughts with good ones, and practice talking to yourself how you’d encourage your best friend. Be kind to yourself and don’t let past failures or mistakes define you. Self-love is one of the most important things we can give ourselves. Unfortunately, for most of us, this is very difficult to do and may require the help of a therapist.

I know this was a long post, but thank you so much for making it this far. If you’re feeling down, lost, or hopeless about the future, you are not alone. Each one of us is on our own unique journey, and we all need support at some point. Find a good therapist, trusted confidant, self-help book, or podcast to motivate you along the way, and feel free to reach out to me here as well. Now is the perfect time to reflect on ourselves, set goals, and recenter ourselves. We’re all in this together, and good things are coming!

Please let me know if you enjoyed this post and would like to read similar content.

Life Update: Getting a Puppy During Covid-19

Wow! It’s been a long time since I updated my blog, and I apologize for being away so long. I’ve had plenty of time to write but zero motivation. If I’m being honest, after returning from Japan and adjusting to a strange new normal back in South Carolina, I lost my desire to create content. I spent weeks sending job applications into the void while missing my life back in Japan, and I wallowed a bit too much in my own self-pity. I’m embarrassed to say I let my mental and physical health go. It was not a good look, and something needed to change. When things feel hectic and overwhelming, we have to focus on what we can actually control, so I got off social media, and I got a dog! Why did I do this? Although social media is great for staying connected, it has the potential to be addictive and depressing. And dogs are wonderful, happy beings full of love. What more can I say here?

For as long as I can remember, I always wanted a puppy, and I told myself when I came back from Japan I’d get one. After my dad agreed (because I’m living in his house after all), I pulled together my savings and stimulus check to adopt Evie, a miniature goldendoodle. It’s been a lot of hard work raising her for the past seven weeks, but she is my whole world, and I love her more than anything. (Of course, I still love my cat, Link!)

Now, before anyone criticizes me for not adopting a puppy from the shelter, all dogs need homes. I don’t believe in puppy mills or purchasing animals from neglectful environments. No-kill shelters, rescues, and reputable breeders are the best way to go. Crocketdoodles hand-raises happy and healthy poodle hybrid pups who are the perfect addition to any family. Their application process is very selective, and they only choose families who would truly be a good fit for a puppy. Anyone looking for a furry friend should do their research and make sure all animals are properly cared for and given appropriate medical treatment. Also, funnily enough, my local shelter had zero puppies when I was searching for my perfect companion. I guess everyone decided to get a dog during quarantine, and I can’t blame them. Pets are amazing all the time, but during a long period of uncertainty and isolation, their presence is even more comforting.

Of course, taking care of a young puppy is a big responsibility full of sleepless nights, house training accidents, teething, and worry. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught Evie with something in her mouth and gone into full panic mode trying to get it out. Putting her to bed was also very exhausting in the beginning—she did not like her crate and cried for what felt like hours. And once she settled down, she’d have to go potty again in just a few hours. I felt like I was constantly awake. But, she has become my best friend, and now I can’t imagine life without her. As our bond has strengthened, I’ve felt less depression and anxiety and a lot more happiness. (I’m sure staying away from Instagram for a bit has also contributed to the positivity.)

There are a lot of benefits to having a puppy. Maintaining her routine keeps me on a healthy schedule. I can’t sleep in every morning anymore because she wakes me up promptly at 7:00 every day. I go to bed early so I wake up energized and ready to play with her. You can’t snooze a puppy who has to pee first thing in the morning. Now that Evie is older, we are both more comfortable in our routine, and I am getting a lot more sleep.

I’m still adjusting to being a dog mom, but it’s starting to feel a lot easier. Recently, I’ve been able to prioritize my health in other ways. I’m exercising, cooking, and writing again while still looking for job opportunities. I’ve even become friends with other dog owners. Things feel a lot less bleak, and I know good things are coming. For anyone seriously thinking of adopting a puppy, I say go for it. But disclaimer, while a dog won’t solve all your problems, they will motivate you to do better and work on yourself.

If you decide to pull the trigger, your pet’s unconditional love will be the greatest reward. Many people are stuck working from home or taking classes online. If you’re lacking social interaction with humans, a dog may be the perfect housemate. However, don’t make this decision rashly. Make sure you have the time and energy to devote to your new puppy because they will rely on you for everything.

What does your schedule look like now, and how would a puppy change things? Are you willing to give up sleeping through the night for a few weeks? Can you afford several rounds of vaccines, spaying/neutering costs, food, supplies, and obedience classes? If you are heading back to work or school soon, will your schedule allow you to come home during the day for a few minutes to let your pup out and feed her? If not, can you afford a dog walker? Do you have a partner, parent, or roommate who can lend a hand, or will the dog be solely your responsibility?

Write down a list of pros and cons be honest when answering these essential questions. It’s not fair to bring home a puppy only to re-home him a few weeks later because you acted impulsively. If you find you are truly ready for a furry companion, then nothing is stopping you from picking up your new best friend. Good luck, and feel free to share how adopting a puppy (or any pet) has helped get you through quarantine!

JET Program: How I Broke My Contract Early in the Wake of COVID-19

Nearly three weeks ago, I made the painful decision to part ways with my contracting organization and officially end my time on the JET Program four months early. My board of education proved they could not communicate with ALTs or guarantee safe working conditions. Although I wanted to continue working in Japan, there was too much uncertainty in the wake of the novel coronavirus. As a result, several of us in Niigata city resigned and departed to our respective home countries. Several more decided to stay. Everyone’s circumstances are unique, and one person’s best course of action may be different from someone else’s. It’s important to weigh out every option carefully before making such a life-altering decision. 

Continue reading “JET Program: How I Broke My Contract Early in the Wake of COVID-19”