I’ve been nominated for the Blogger Recognition Award! I don’t even know what to say, I’m so grateful! Thank you Ray so very much! Check out their content, they deserve all the views, readership and success in the world.
The Blogger Recognition Award Rules
So I’m supposed to give a bit of backstory on how the blog came to be, the journey so far, advice for new bloggers, and nominate 10-15 people. I’m a tad long winded, so forgive me for the “how this blog started” portion’s length. I just needed to get its origin story off my chest.
How In Asian Spaces Came to Be:
On February 14th of 2017, I began working at my dream job. I wasn’t anyone very important of course, just one of four receptionists at a Japanese Cultural Center. After years of studying Japanese culture, watching its media and developing this insurmountable passion – I was finally living the life I always imagined.
I had never given a damn about any job I held before, I’d always just taken what was available to me. There were petty cat fights, aggression and harassment from management – but finally things had changed. It was different. I was different and for once, I wanted to try.
So I did the very best I could, each and every day. I arrived early, helped everyone to the best of my abilities, and enrolled at the language school on the premises to continue formal lessons in Japanese. I made a lot of enemies being so passionate about my job.
Certain co-workers would ask why I was there, and even email me job offers for other places. I didn’t speak fluent Japanese, never completed the JET program, and was not a Japanese from Japan. So why was I there?
I ignored the snide comments from visitors who also wondered how “someone like me” got there – asking questions like:
“Are you part Japanese?”
“Do you know someone higher up?”
“It’s nice someone let you work here”
All the while not realizing that upstairs beyond the public’s eye, the building was an almost even split between Americans of all backgrounds and Japanese from Japan.
Mind you it was never the Japanese who said terrible things, even when I eavesdropped on their conversations in their native language. It was always another “American”; usually not from New York.
But I survived, and I thrived each time I interacted with an expert from Japan, the head of a corporation, small business owners and people from the anime and manga industry. Unfortunately for the latter, some of these people were the type to treat you like gum stuck to the bottom of their shoe and then put on a dazzling smile for the public. I always have to laugh at the hypocrisy each time I attend an anime convention and there they are, conducting their panels and acting as if they walk on water and are the absolute finite pillars of the community.
That’s the funny thing about being a ‘lowly’ receptionist, people show their asses and never know the person they treated like shit could be right there in the audience, watching them.
You never know who anybody is these days, which is why you should treat people with respect and courtesy if they have never offended you. That is a given anyway, but people seem to forget the golden rule.
The best moments I had during my time there were:
- Watching Okashi no Ie (おかしの家 ) in 2015, only to see Odagiri Joe walk through the lobby with his security and get into the elevator. Later that night a film event would occur and he flew in from Japan to promote it. I remember hearing businessmen who had meetings with the higher ups speaking in Japanese about the actor, playfully making fun of his English name and stardom. It was even funnier when they saw me laughing and realized I understood them, and we joked about him together.
- Watching a language learning series on YouTube years earlier only to realize that the location was the park across the street from my job, and the kind sensei in the videos was now the lovely sensei teaching me Japanese in real life.
It had felt like kismet, but all good things must come to an end.
A co-worker I never really got along with had become the new manager, and I interviewed for a vacancy in another department. I didn’t get the position, and suddenly began being sent to HR for things I didn’t do – forced to defend myself against the most ostentatious lies shortly after.
I spoke to the manager along her immediate superior in a meeting where I was told that “because you are dependable, we will keep putting you on unfairly and you’ll just have to deal with it.” I argued that newer employees had preferential schedules – while I never took off, never complained and didn’t mind being there, I just didn’t understand why they were treating me so poorly.
I learned around that time that only one of my three supervisors fought for me to have the new position, the other two spoke against me. I know which two more than ever now. I guess they didn’t want to lose their “dependable” work horse.
It only got worse from there. So one day, after my shift I told them I quit. I had a very long meeting with HR where she seemingly tried to stall me; not understanding why one of their best employees was completely done. I tried explaining the events that lead to this, even writing a very long detailed list of grievances as a last stand weeks earlier at my penultimate visit with HR.
I was told none of that mattered, that she “couldn’t see the forest through the trees” and that they (basically) believed the manager over anything I could possibly say.
So I left, and never looked back.
Months later I was still home, running out of money. Then one day, a Hail Mary came through that provided me a limited amount of income to live on. I tried looking for remote work and received a few interviews, but nothing stuck. I read that starting a blog while you search could be helpful, so I did that. I just wrote about daily WordPress challenges, and occasional short poems.
Until one day, I had the idea to write about Japanese culture, positive experiences, and things I’d learned from the center. It wasn’t until my coverage of AFNYCC and its response that really made me pause and say – “hey, this could actually work out”.
I purchased the domain shortly afterward.
I’ve been home a little over a year now, and for the first time in my life I can truly say I’m happy. I don’t have much money coming in, but I’ve decided to take things one day at a time. This may sound strange, but a lot of random occurrences and coincidences (if you believe in those) have been cementing my decision to become self-sufficient. To be my own boss, and work for myself.
I now have two websites, where I can talk about whatever I’d like without fear that some editor above me will reject my thoughts. I’ve made progress on stories and projects I placed on the backburner years ago when I didn’t have time for myself, but rather had to work on making others rich and successful. One of my short stories should be ready to drop within the next two months, scripts for graphic novels are now completed. Other short stories only need a few edits before self-publish, my novella is halfway written and I’ve finally finished those short film scripts I’d written in college – because I really should put this expensive Cinema Studies degree to use.
I’ve moved on and I feel good. I still have my original goal to stride towards concerning this website, and I know I’ll get there someday. I have shared it once before on Twitter, but I’ll keep it a secret for now until I’m able to do it. Within the next two years it should come to fruition.
And to the person from the company who has been keeping tabs on me in private mode on LinkedIn since I quit: if you’ve found this website I have a message for you.
I hope that the woman who lied on me – we both know who she is – finds happiness. I hope it is something she has dreamed about for years and it’s so perfect it doesn’t feel real. And when she does, I hope someone systematically destroys her experience each and every day.
When that does happen, I’d like her to think of me and realize that in this world, you do reap what you sow.
Half the staff that were employed while I was there have since quit, so 山田 太郎さん, you should really focus on your existing relationships and how to improve your workplace, rather than trying to figure out what I am doing.
I am grateful and excited to start this new chapter of my life, and thank you to those who read this blog. It’s been a struggle, but better days are ahead!
Now, for the nominations. I nominate:
Advice for New Bloggers:
- Try to self-host as soon as possible. It gives you a greater sense of agency over your content and because you own the domain, definitive authority.
- SEO and promoting your own work on social media is really important. There are many resources, but Neil Patel’s website is a great place to start. He goes into long tail keywords, short tail keywords, SEO optimization, DA, Backlinks, and a whole bunch of other stuff I had no clue existed until I started blogging.
- It may seem like no one is reading, and you’ll get discouraged. But then one day out of the blue, you may receive a nice comment that motivates you to keep going. People really are reading, even if it seems like sometimes you’re just talking to yourself.
- Join a blogging community or Facebook group to meet and network with others. Twitter has a really supportive community, you can start with the hashtag #BloggingTribe and narrow it down to find your niche.
- Schedules and consistency are important. I’m really bad at keeping schedules, but people need to know when to look for your new content or series so they can support you. They want to know when to drop by and say hi, let them come!
Thank you again Ray, and congratulations to everyone nominated! I wish you all the success in the world, please continue making original and amazing content!
✰In Asian Spaces