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  • Akane Fukuzawa

This Moment is the Youngest You'll Ever Be

Currently, I work as a Japanese language teacher for internationals.

Recently, there have been many students close to my age, and we talk about many things during recess.

On that day, we were chatting as usual.

We started talking about universities. I said I graduated from a university two years ago, and I studied sports and psychology, which are completely different from my current profession.

And then, one of the students surprisingly said, "What? You've already graduated at your age? I'm going to enter a university this September!"

First of all, this may have something to do with the difference in the elementary, middle, and high school education systems in other countries. But, to me, it was surprising that they were that surprised.

At the same time, this made me realize that I had almost forgotten what it felt like to be abroad last year.

I aimed to enter a reputable high school and was fairly serious about studying during my school life there. Then, I was accepted by a reputable university.

(Just so you know, I don't have any regrets in my student life. It was a very fruitful time.)

However, I became a senior, and people around me were getting hectic with job hunting, but I couldn't bring myself to do it.

(If you say that's an immature and dependent attitude, then that's true. I can't deny that.)

But at that time, I was instinctively afraid to be carried away, getting a job, and starting to work.

“I want to see the vast world before getting a job,” I thought.

So after the pandemic, I went off to Australia. I had an amazing experience there for a year.

Looking back now, every day in Australia was full of excitement.

All the younger coworkers said things like, "I'll go to a university when I find out what I want to study” and "For now, I enjoy this job, and that's why I work here."

I wondered if the path I’ve lived is just someone's standards and not based on my decision.

I thought my value had changed as a result of this experience.

After I returned to Japan and spent time here, I didn't notice that the idea almost disappeared.

I don't mean to criticize the generally considered path that’s unique to Japan, where people go through compulsory education, then on to high school, university, and finally get a job.

But the choice is yours, and no one else's.

To make a choice, you should first know common options.

Simultaneously, I believe it’s the mission of educators to tell this.

Today is the day you’re the youngest. It's never too late to challenge something.

As I live in Japan, the invisible wall to taking on challenges gets higher every year.

I might not be the only one feeling this way.

As I organized my thoughts, I realized I still have many things I want to learn and try.

Merely a year has passed since I started this job, but students teach me a lot.

Every day, I feel how wonderful it is to be able to do what I'm good at as a job and take a lot from the experience.

However, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and try something new.

Where you live now might just be a small part of the world.

The world is bigger than you can imagine. I believe so.

Last but not least, I'm grateful if this article encourages you to try something.

About the Writer

It's nice to meet you all. I was in Australia on a working holiday visa until this April. And now I'm a Japanese language teacher in Japan. The reverse culture shocks I had after coming back to Japan are fading away as days have passed, and it has brought me to write this essay.

Written by Akane Fukuzawa

Translated by Naomi Koizumi

Edited by Emiru Okada

Graphics by Satomi Shikano

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