Knight Thyself

Knight Thyself

I’ve mentioned how awkward it’s been readjusting to life in the states. With many of the JET Program peoples coming home soon, they’ll get a taste of some reverse culture shock too. Hopefully they don’t succumb to an identity crisis like I did.

BUT, after nearly a year, I’m happy to say I’ve finally made peace about Japan. And the epiphany came after eating some ramen.

Lunch with Shota Nakama, the mastermind of Video Game Orchestra.

In case you’ve missed his story before, Shota’s a high school dropout who managed to make it to America and graduate from Berklee. After that, he pieced together his own music group. When we last spoke, he was just putting together his first album.

Since then, his work’s gotten the attention of Square-Enix– you might know them as the guys who make Final Fantasy. And get this: they want him to compose the soundtrack to the next game!

I sat there in awe, just absorbed in the high of his accomplishment. Shota’s a believer in high risk/high reward. “I mean, if things ever get really bad, I’ll just run away [back to Japan],” he joked.

I’d been the exact opposite. Since coming back, I’ve been trying to be so careful plotting my next move. I wanted to be “safe” and do things “right”. I thought I was being smart, but I wasn’t really living. I was just existing. And it was making me miserable.

This whole time I thought leaving Japan was the source of my uneasiness. But nope. My lifestyle and perspective boxed me into a corner, yet again. It was my own damn fault.

And feeling down, I lost sight of myself. I focused on ideas like being the “international guy” or “Asian-American” as if they should be the sole criteria to define me. I felt out of place and kept looking for a label that would tell me “it’s okay”– something to give me direction.

Add to that the ups and downs of looking for a job, and you have a recipe that’s all kinds of demoralizing.

It’s stupid. I shouldn’t have ever tried to find a fit.

So many people have told me: don’t wait for someone to tell what you are. Don’t look for qualifiers to prove whether you’re good enough or not.

Claim what you want. Knight yourself. And if it feels overwhelming? That’s just because you have options, so shoulder one and see what happens!

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