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Wobbegong Cautiously Returns


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Hey team, how's it going? Been a while.

 

A quick recap:

For anyone who doesn't know me, I'm Wobbegong, aka Wobbe/Wobble, aka Shark Face. I'm a Rebel GL, but I haven't been around much lately, so I guess that makes this a respawn. I am fine with any pronouns but usually use she/her/hers out of convention.

 

For those of you who remember me, I'm still teaching English in Japan and still primarily relying on fasting for my weight loss goals.

 

As always, feel free to ask me anything, either here in the thread or by pm. I can't guarantee compliance or information will be forthcoming, but I will do my best to be as honest and supportive as I can be.

 

I'm not yet really sure what this challenge will be about. There are a few things I'm working on, and I'll be starting classes (as a student again! gasp) in the last week, but for now I think I mostly just want to focus on being here. I've been feeling very isolated lately and could definitely use some community, but I'm also at a point where I've been isolated so long I'm kind of nervous about rejoining a community.

VN4U.gif

 

Nothing for it but to get back on the horse, right? Onward.

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1 hour ago, Lateral Planet said:

Welcome back! Glad to hear you're doing well, the community is always here for you :D

Thank you! It's very reassuring to hear it. I have a lot of anxiety about perceived expectations surrounding being a guild leader, even though you guys are always so supportive even when I can't give you anything in return. I know I have no reason not to trust the community to be welcoming, because you all always are, but I can't help but feel like a failure (and by extension, unwanted). Sometimes that anxiety makes me stay away, but I've honestly reached a breaking point and know I need more healthy social interaction.

 

Anyway, thanks for stopping by to say hi, it's always good to see you! :)

 

6 minutes ago, Chesire said:

Yay! You’re here! Welcome back!

Thanks! It's good to be back. Hopefully I will have some staying power this time. Fingers crossed!

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Welcome back 🥳.

 

I understand the feeling of anxiety after not being here for a long time, but I'm sure that you'll feel home again in no time!

 

14 minutes ago, Wobbegong said:

I have a lot of anxiety about perceived expectations surrounding being a guild leader, even though you guys are always so supportive even when I can't give you anything in return.

You've always done great! I don't know what our expectations should be, but from my point of view there's nothing to complain ;).

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7 minutes ago, Waanie said:

Welcome back 🥳.

 

I understand the feeling of anxiety after not being here for a long time, but I'm sure that you'll feel home again in no time!

Thanks! I am glad to be back, but it will take some time to settle back into a groove. But I really appreciate the kindness and welcome I've been met with so far. Rebel absolutely is home, but I still feel like I've been gone long enough that I'm more like a college kid visiting their parents on break than someone who genuinely lives here anymore. I'll get back in the swing of it soon enough, I'm sure. :)

 

7 minutes ago, Waanie said:

You've always done great! I don't know what our expectations should be, but from my point of view there's nothing to complain ;).

Well, most importantly just being present and supporting the community by engaging with it. Things like supporting people in their challenges, providing/running minis, doing outreach with the Lv 1s... interceding on your behalf with site management when called upon to do so. Stuff like recommending people for promotions (to ambassador/GL), seeking solutions to site issues, mediating issues on the forums (luckily I've only been called on to do that a few times, but I worry about who's handling it when I'm not around). And of course there are the GL mod responsibilities like responding to user-reported content, banning bad faith actors and spammers, etc. I know it's all volunteer work, and for the mod stuff every other mod can handle it just as well as I can, so that's no big deal, but with the more guild-specific stuff I do feel like I'm letting you all down.

 

When I was promoted to GL, it was because there wasn't one at all for Rebel and hadn't been for years. Back then, the lack of leadership was felt very strongly throughout the guild, BUT we were also the LV 1 guild at the time. I teamed up with Fleaball and IamInfinite and a few others and we set about making enough of a clamor to get GL applications open, and my promotion was a result of that. The creation of a dedicated LV 1 guild, headed by Hazard, was another result. So there's less pressure on Rebel leadership to be involved with the absolute newcomers, but we do still get a steady flow of "I just completed my first challenge and don't know where else to go" people in here. The guild is welcoming and supportive and our ambassadors @Rookie and @Tateman are very steadfast and do a wonderful job offering support, but as the person with the Guild Leader badge I still feel responsible.

 

I'm probably making it harder than it has to be, but that's how I feel about it, and when I'm not around that's where my sense of failure comes from.

 

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22 minutes ago, Tanktimus the Encourager said:

Following. I thought you were done in Japan for some reason. 

Hello and welcome! Nope, still in Japan, and stuck here for the foreseeable future. That is to say, as a US Citizen, I can *leave* Japan any time I want... but once I go I can't come back, even if all I do is hang out in international waters without meeting anyone else. My residence card will be destroyed upon my going through security and my ongoing worker's visa won't be enough to override COVID travel restrictions. Since I have no job prospects in the States right now, and since I would have to travel through Tokyo to get out of Japan, it would be idiotic to try it under the current circumstances. I still have at least nine (possibly closer to twelve) months left on my current contract, too.

 

I had decided not to recontract, so this year was supposed to be my last, but with the whole job prospects thing and the fact that my current employer won't be able to replace me if I should leave is making me wonder if I might not end up staying longer after all. On the one hand, it's just a job, and it's wreaking havoc on my mental health at this point. On the other, it is a stable income with very low levels of actual work stress. I haven't discussed the situation with my supervisor, in large part because I don't know how to do so politely without accidentally burning bridges. Tales of Japanese bureaucratic retribution against foreign employees who have turned in their notice are not exactly what you would call uncommon, and while I have a pretty good relationship with my supervising office, I've also very studiously never hinted that leaving is on my mind. But that communication issue is also playing largely into my social and mental health struggles, so that complicates matters further.

 

But recontract happens in November for the following year, which runs either April to March or August to July. So that talk is coming up pretty soon. 😕

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9 hours ago, Jupiter said:

Following. :) 

Hello and welcome!

 

9 hours ago, Tanktimus the Encourager said:

I promise you are, because you're doing a great job.

How can you say that when I haven't even been here? I can recognize that you're being kind and supportive and friendly but when I do literally zero things and you say that's a "great job" I don't know if you're lying outright or just have really low expectations of me. I know I struggle with having overly high expectations of myself, but surely there's a middle ground somewhere?!

 

8 hours ago, Tateman said:

Glad to see you back. I was tempted to send you a PM just to check in to see how things are going. Whatever the challenge you set for yourself, we will all be here to follow along :)

Well, you're welcome to PM me, but tbh I probably wouldn't have seen it quickly enough to send you a reassuring reply.

 

Still not sure what to do for my challenge this time around. There are many things on my mind, but my track record with challenges (and life in general) says that as soon as I say I'm gonna do something out loud, I immediately stop doing it. It's like the pernicious opposite of commitment.

 

5 hours ago, Rookie said:

Welcome back!!! 😊 So glad to see you here. Following along

Thank you! It's good to be here, and it's good to see you again too! I'm looking forward to soaking up some rays of Rookie sunshine.

 

4 hours ago, Whisper said:

Yea, Wobble's back!

Yeah! Thanks for the welcome back confetti!

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This morning I was at elementary school and the sixth grade classes were like pulling teeth. The kids weren't acting out or anything, but they were so unengaged. I know a large part of the problem is the new teacher in charge of their English classes -- she's neither strict nor high energy, so the kids have no external inspiration to engage with the content. She just kind of droops her way through class, and her lack of leadership makes it difficult for the other ALT (I'll call her Mary) and me to turn up the energy (or be strict with the students, for that matter). In many ways I feel like I'm not supporting her enough, but how am I supposed to come in and be "the fun one" when I barely even get a chance to speak in her classes, and I only see the kids once a week? Mary at least sees them twice, and the kids clearly like and trust her, but it's not enough to carry the class.

 

After classes today, the teacher complained to Mary and me that she doesn't know what to do to motivate the students. Mary delicately suggested that she ask their homeroom teachers what techniques they use to manage the students and classroom expectations. The teacher asked us how things were last year, when there was no dedicated English teacher (the homeroom teachers ran English classes) -- were the kids as distant and unmotivated then? Mary and I shared a look and then told the English teacher that last year the homeroom teachers were strict, so the kids behaved. But after we left, I mentioned my concern to Mary, that the problem is that the English teacher isn't enthusiastic about English. Mary agreed, but said, "But it's not like I can say that." I had the exact same feeling: the problem is obvious to an outsider, but there's no way to communicate it directly without being horrifically rude. And also, as an outsider, what seems "obvious" to me may in fact be flying in the face of cultural values and norms here.

 

This is basically the root of all of my issues here. I don't have any close friends because I don't know the language well enough to express my deeper thoughts and feelings about most things (I am a super pro at small talk though!) and I'm too cautious of the 'culture of politeness' to attempt to discuss my deeper thoughts and feelings about things I do have the language for because I worry about offending people. It's not just an issue of not wanting to cause strife: I also am keenly aware that I'm heavily reliant on my coworkers to like me and want to take care of me, because should something happen to me here, I have literally no other support network. There are a small handful of people who I trust not to be offended, but they're all really busy, so I'm not able to spend much time with them. And with one exception (the busiest, of course) none of them speak much English, so I'm back to the language barrier anyway.

 

In some ways it seems like a ridiculous thing to complain about. "I have to be polite and it sucks!" I'm sure almost everyone has felt that way at some point in their lives -- the point of manners is to restrict behavior to improve social cohesion. But on the other hand, the number and variety of ways I can accidentally offend someone just by reacting like a non-Japanese person is enormous and exhausting, and I am exhausted. I'm polite almost all the time, in almost every interaction, every day. I've been doing it for so long I wouldn't know how to stop if I was invited to. When I visit home, I fall back into my old patterns pretty much immediately, but as long as I'm here it's like there's a barrier between the persona I'm acting out and my "true" self, to the extent that I don't even remember who I really am anymore. I feel like I've become the persona, and all I'll ever be is... flat. Like a mirror, reflecting back my best effort at what I think people want to see, and never quite knowing if I'm doing it right, or doing enough.

 

This is really depressing.

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Ok well this is completely unrelated but... can I get some advice?

 

TL;DR there is a guy I do not want to be in contact with who has just sent me an invitation on LinkedIn. Details below, but we have never worked together or been professional contacts in any capacity, so the only reason I can think of that he's reaching out on this platform is that I have him blocked on facebook and I don't have any other social media attached to my real name where he could find me.

 

I can block him on LinkedIn, but even though LinkedIn doesn't alert people when they're blocked, it will be very obvious to him what has happened. I have my privacy set to be fairly mysterious to people who aren't logged in, but since I'm facing a big career transition it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to limit my exposure much further (although I guess I could for at least the next few months, while I'm still in Japan anyway), so now that he's found me all he would have to do is create a second account and he could continue to lurk on my profile. I don't have premium, so I have no idea how often or how recently he's visited.

 

So... should I block him, or just leave his request where it is? I won't use LinkedIn's "Ignore" button for reasons I will explain below the fold for anyone curious about the backstory here.

Spoiler

I met this guy when I was a freshman in high school, about 14 or 15 years old. At the time, he was about 22. (I know, I know! The people who were seniors when I was a freshmen were freshmen when he was a senior, so he had remained in contact and extended his reach to younger students through them after he graduated.) We hung out in groups a handful of times over the course of maybe a year, and were alone together maybe three or four times when he gave me rides home. I was not a particularly safety-conscious 15-year-old 🙄 but on the other hand very nearly everyone I knew and hung out with knew this guy -- he was skirting the edges of like four of my friend groups. At the time I appreciated the positive attention, but as an adult now looking back my assessment would be "this guy was never popular in school and is trying to capture the feeling of popularity by being 'the cool older guy' who buys up. He's lonely and insecure and looking for easy attention." I'm not sure if I would go so far as to characterize him as predatory, but I would say he has serious boundary issues.

 

Back then, we were also facebook friends, but we didn't interact much online. I considered him "a guy I knew" and "a guy I'm friendly with" but not "a guy I'm close with." He did once attempt to manipulate our conversation to a point where I would suggest us going out (that sounds weird but he was basically bemoaning his life and his lack of dateability and clearly angling for an "I'd go out with you" or similar) but it didn't work, I made no such suggestion, and was so uncomfortable I made sure we were never alone together again. After that he would sometimes contact me about hanging out, but I always gave him vague non-answers, just enough to get him to leave me alone.

When I graduated high school, I went through my list of facebook friends and "unfriended" anyone I didn't actually consider a real friend (or family member). Dude was included in this purge. IMMEDIATELY after being unfriended, he sent me a new friend request. Like, scary fast. At this point I hadn't spoken to him in over two years, so I was very weirded out by this behavior, and rejected the request. He immediately sent another and started messaging me. "What did I do wrong? Why are you mad at me? Why can't we be friends? Did I upset you? Tell me what I did." That kind of thing. It was NON STOP -- I got a handful of messages at a time, a couple of times a week, for months. During that time I rejected a bunch of his requests until I finally wised up and just left one where it was -- he can't send a new request if he already has one pending. Eventually facebook rolled out blocking and I blocked him. He is to this day the only person on my blocked list. Anyway, because of that persistent behavior, I won't use the "Ignore" button on LinkedIn and give him the opportunity to send another request.

 

It's been ten years since this unfriending drama. I'm not crazy to think it's weird he's still thinking about me, am I? Then again, it's been ten years and I still instantly recognized this guy's name and face, so who am I to talk? We clearly both made an impression. But I'm kind of freaking out to suddenly be contacted by this guy and I don't know what to do. Advice?

 

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I went ahead and read under the cover - but my advice is - if you have any angst - either ignore it or block him. You don't NEED a reason. And he shouldn't expect one.

A little backstory - somewhat related. I am friends with VERY few people back home. I was rather shocked when someone MOST would have considered one of my best friends growing up looking from the outside sent me a FB friend request. I hemmed and hawed for WEEKS and finally decided that after so many years, people change, and went ahead and accepted. It took years (she doesn't do much on FB) - but we finally had an actual interaction about something that mattered - and her about face when I didn't "fall in line" with her thinking took me RIGHT back to 1987. I muted her immediately - because there are not enough spoons for me to unpack that year on top of what I deal with today.

Anywho - learn from my mistake. Just ignore or block.

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6 hours ago, Wobbegong said:

In some ways it seems like a ridiculous thing to complain about. "I have to be polite and it sucks!" I'm sure almost everyone has felt that way at some point in their lives -- the point of manners is to restrict behavior to improve social cohesion.

 

I'm not hearing so much "I have to be polite and it sucks" as I'm hearing, "I have to be constantly rigid and shielded and I have no one I can relax and be natural with", which is different and a really hard place to be. 

 

I'm afraid I don't have any real advice for this, or for the Facebook/Linkedin creeper guy, other than to say that you are heard and can safely vent here.

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I feel like I would just ignore or block that request. I have a couple of people friended on Linkedin that I didn't work with, but mostly I try to keep that to work people. 

 

I don't have much to offer for help in the way of the social school issues. I have no idea how much free time you might have to engage in other outside projects, but would it be any different in other social engagements with other people? What I was thinking is with people connecting in Discord or other services for playing Pokemon Go. There might be other outlets out there that you could hang out with people not in that work environment? Maybe then you could feel more free to worry about offending people you have to interact with professionally.

 

Honestly though, I have no idea how the culture is over there. I could be completely off the mark with any of this. :) 

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15 hours ago, Wobbegong said:

How can you say that when I haven't even been here? I can recognize that you're being kind and supportive and friendly but when I do literally zero things and you say that's a "great job" I don't know if you're lying outright or just have really low expectations of me. I know I struggle with having overly high expectations of myself, but surely there's a middle ground somewhere?!

The minute you walk back in the door you start posting a general chat thread and interacting with your guild, which is awesome. There are GLs who haven't even logged in to the site in 2020. You don't have to be present for every challenge. You are a VOLUNTEER and it's OK to take breaks. I promise your expectations for yourself are way too high.

 

Also, block that guy.

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Eh that situation with the guy sounds very irksome... Ignore his request. Of course you remember his face and name... He made a bad impression and I find those are stronger than good ones. Obviously just ignoring the request won't make the negative feelings that I'm sure surfaced go away but what else can you do.. dude can clearly not take a hint. 🤦

 

As for the always having to be polite and worry about offending people ... It sounds hella exhausting and kind of lonely. We are a social creature and I can only imagine how hard it would be to not be able to fully communicate on a daily basis. I don't really have advice on this one... That's probably why you get the youtube channels of Americans/Canadians who moved to Japan, because they need an outlet where they can connect with people and form a community. Big hugs!

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... I'mma echo all the "block the creep" folks on here, he definitely sounds like a pile of boundary issues. And the people who pressed my boundaries (ESPECIALLY around my body or dating) are definitely some faces I will recognize for the rest of my life. 

19 hours ago, Wobbegong said:

This is basically the root of all of my issues here. I don't have any close friends because I don't know the language well enough to express my deeper thoughts and feelings about most things (I am a super pro at small talk though!) and I'm too cautious of the 'culture of politeness' to attempt to discuss my deeper thoughts and feelings about things I do have the language for because I worry about offending people. It's not just an issue of not wanting to cause strife: I also am keenly aware that I'm heavily reliant on my coworkers to like me and want to take care of me, because should something happen to me here, I have literally no other support network. There are a small handful of people who I trust not to be offended, but they're all really busy, so I'm not able to spend much time with them. And with one exception (the busiest, of course) none of them speak much English, so I'm back to the language barrier anyway.

You don't have anyone IRL to let down that politeness armor though, and having someone you can let your guard down around and just relax is super important for mental health.

19 hours ago, Wobbegong said:

I mentioned my concern to Mary, that the problem is that the English teacher isn't enthusiastic about English. Mary agreed, but said, "But it's not like I can say that."

Is there a way you can frame it that is less direct? Something more like "It can be hard to let your inner enthusiasm out when you're teaching a class, but letting the kids see it can get them engaged" - something that frames it less as she's not enthusiastic, but that the enthusiasm being seen would be helpful if that makes any sense.

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17 hours ago, Wobbegong said:

So... should I block him, or just leave his request where it is?

I would block him.  Who cares if he knows, your ignoring him is the same In terms of how he will likely see it, the only difference being that he has more access your pages if unblocked.

 

Also, HI!!  Nice to see you back again.   

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I will respond to all of you in a bit but right now I just have to share this. I am so grateful for my face mask because I cannot stop laughing right now. There's a leak in the roof at one of my schools and this is the towel they're using to catch the drips (behind a screen because maybe NSFW).

 

Spoiler

114248526_10158861896825854_145393814957

 

I tried to explain to the teachers and they said, "Maybe it's bamboo." I think the text kind of gives it away?! 😂

 

For context, weed is super illegal in Japan. Like, if I'm found with any amount on my person or in my possession, I will immediately be deported and banned from coming back, illegal. That's if I'm lucky! If they decide to charge me in the country, the punishment is 5 years jail and an $18,000 fine, unless they decide I intended to profit from it, in which case those numbers jump to 10 and $27,000 respectively. Just a couple years ago a pop singer and his girlfriend were caught with just 2.2 grams in their apartment and they had to pay $27,000 each.

 

But I guess displaying it on a towel in a middle school hallway is no big deal!

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