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A short story of my life so far as a complete failure.

Here I am, sitting on a futon, in a 6-tatami (i.e. 9.72 m2) room, with my back to a wood column of the wall, in Hibarigaoka, a suburb in West Tokyo. Why am I sitting like this? It's because I can't afford to buy a desk and a chair. The room already cost me 112000 yen for the first month, and 56000 yen per month thereafter. I don't get my own apartment; this is a house share; we are currently 7 people in the house, although 3 will have left before September. This is not even central Tokyo. The room smells pretty bad because we are both guys and neither of us seems to know how to keep things tidy. Right now, we have a couple of dirty socks, a bunch of grocery receipts, magazines, and a plastic water bottle scattered across the floor. As of this writing, I have a grand total of 86330 yen with me. This means I blew 213670 yen out of the 300000 yen that dad gave me, in less than 1 month. I still don't have a job because 1) I don't have presentable work experience, 2) there is no entry level job other than for native Japanese speakers, 3) there is no PHP job.

How did all of this happen? I don't know. And I'm trying to get a clearer idea by writing. I suppose I have been showing signs of gullibility and eventual failure since I was in elementary school. You know how I agreed to immigrate to Canada? My parents told me there are no compulsory home assignments for school in Canada. "Oh really?"

Then it was time to get into high school. I ended up in the same private high school as my sister, because the school had good reputations and had turned into co-ed just a few years before. There were lots of attractive girls and I had an easy time getting decent grades. I enjoyed all 5 years there. Or did I? Puberty hit me and I have always wanted a girlfriend since then, but I never got one. Mom always told me "She won't be your wife." So I never bothered doing anything more than glancing from time to time at the girls I liked. What was I thinking? The day of graduation, I cried like there was no tomorrow, not with my friends, but at home instead. My instinct was probably sensing what was waiting for me in life.

Then came time for pre-university prep school, something that we call the cégep in Québec. As fate would have it, I ended up in the same prep school as my sister was, and got into the IB programme, just like she did. I should have learned earlier. What was I thinking? I came out with an IB score that seemed too high to be what I deserved. I didn't really learn anything useful from the programme except the question "how do you know?" from theory of knowledge, which I use now and then while trolling Digg.com.

I made some good friends in the IB programme, and a few of us decided to study software engineering in the same university. I liked computer games and I've been sitting in front my computer all day in my free time anyway, so why not? What was I thinking? Unlike my friends, I failed to enter the co-op programme. I graduated, with decent grades, but just below the threshold for Distinction. To this day, I still get the chills thinking about artificial intelligence, compiler design, and database implementation. My uncle asked me for opinions about an ERP system that the family business was going to implement. I gave him very vague answers that amount to "I don't know", if anybody were to examine closely enough. Sometime towards the end of my bachelor studies, dad started an aluminium extrusion business. I'm leaving out all the details about the nice girls that liked in prep school and in university; I never do anything about them, remember?

Right after graduation from university, my father suggested that I take a summer break and travel around China instead of taking a job immediately. His reasoning is that I would not have a better chance to witness all the change that has gone through China after I start working. I agreed with him at that time, and took a roadtrip with one of my uncles through about 1/3 of China. I even took another business trip with another uncle to the US. What was I thinking? I missed the peak hiring season, and I had already started forgetting everything about design patterns, Rational Unified Process, and so on. Heck, even if I had not started forgetting, those little pieces of knowledge would have fallen out of fashion in the quickly evolving IT sector anyway.

Once summer was over, I returned to Canada with my family to finalise our retreat back to Hong Kong. We had to sell our house and our car, and close our bank accounts, among other things. Then one day, something broke in my head and I decided that I didn't like Hong Kong and Mainland, and that I wanted to stay away from the mess that was my greater family. I told my family that I wanted to stay in Montreal. They didn't stop me in my selfish fit of the moment. They left me with the car and my sister left me with her savings. They even helped me find an apartment where I can live after we sell the house, and the washing machine and stove to go with it. Mom and my sister were crying as they entered the boarding zone of the airport. Mom thought she wouldn't see me again in her life. I was also crying as I drove "home". WHAT THE FUCK WAS I THINKING?!?!?!

The next morning I woke up to realise that there is nobody to eat breakfast with me anymore. I cried like a maniac. I opened the refrigerator and I found the curry that mom had prepared for me; I cried even harder. It was absolutely heartbreaking. Even now I'm sobbing as I recall my experience. I could hardly call that home because I lived there alone the whole time. It was more like a big prison into which I banished myself. I didn't even get in touch with my friends after university anymore. Some of them have gone to work in Seattle, another went on a tour in Afghanistan. I didn't look for a job because my friend (my current roommate) invited me to do freelance web design and web application development. What a great way to mess up my career. Since we were doing freelance stuff, the chances of us properly learning new tools was a big, incredible, zero. The whole time we were using only PHP5, HTML 4.01, CSS, and JavaScript. And I suck at web design, I can't even do Flash, ShockWave, or Director. I don't even know how to use Photoshop. Who was I trying to kid, trying to be a web designer? The whole experience gave me another big, incredible, nothing to buff my resume with. At that point, I still didn't have to try shrinking my resume to 2 pages because I actually had no valid, presentable working experience.

Soon, my friend decided that business wasn't good enough in Montreal. He told me that we can make more money working in the financial sector in Japan. I agreed to come to Japan with him, partly because Japan is closer to home, partly because I had fallen for a Japanese girl that I met in Montreal and that I wanted to do something about it, namely, learning her language first. I couldn't properly liquidate everything because I was busy finishing off existing projects. The only thing I managed to sell at a decent price was the car. Pretty much everything else were given away. I tried to sell the sofa at $100 and even took the trouble to deliver it. The truck rental wasn't cheap, but I thought money from the sofa and the other furnitures I was selling would have covered it. Guess what? The buyer gave me cheque instead of cash like I had said in the ad and it bounced.

Closing the bank account was another disaster. I decided to leave the bank account open because I had to wait for the refund from the car insurance company. Turns out that the cheque never got into my proxy's hand. So now I have the option to fly back to Canada just to close a bank account that has no money in it or leave it and remain a resident (which means I have to pay income taxes even if I don't live in Canada anymore). I also emptied the safety deposit box without discontinuing it. Out of the stuff from the safety deposit box, I deposited the few $1000 CAD bills into the bank account before wiring everything back to Hong Kong, following the advice of another friend that it's too dangerous to carry a couple thousand dollars in cash at the airport. I completely forgot that those $1000 CAD bills were in the safety deposit box was because they were out-of-print collectibles.

And now I'm in Tokyo, trying to miraculously reboot my life. It's not happening. Dad and his business partner have intentions for me to succeed them in the aluminium extrusion business. What am I doing here getting an IT job for? What Japanese company is going to hire somebody who has graduated for over a year and who still does not have job experience?

I'm so stupid I don't deserve to live. I'm a failure.



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