What Is A Ninja and Why I Want To Be One (Part 1)

Today I am going to share with you the backstory of why I want to be a ninja and what is a ninja. On Thursday I will publish a follow up post on the Hairy Edge. Make sure to look out for it. 

Nice to Meet You

Hi, my name is Izzy. I’m about to turn 30 and I want to be a ninja. It’s my childhood dream.  Sounds a little funny right?

A nearly 30-year-old man has a quarter-life-crisis and decides he wants to be a ninja.

But there is a slight twist in all of this.

I don’t simply want it.

I am doing it. 

I quit my job, I moved to Japan, and I’m trying to become a ninja.

The 2 Questions What and Why

There are 2 questions that I always get when I tell people I want to be a ninja.

What is a ninja?

Why do you want to be a ninja?  

Question 1: What is a Ninja?

When I say “I want to be a ninja” I am talking about the ninja from my 8 year old brain, not a traditional ninja.  The definition of a ninja according to my 8 year old brain is someone who moves to a far away land, becomes an expert in martial arts, and follows his own set of rules.

It sounds good on paper, but how does this look in real life?  Well, I live in the historic capital of Japan, Kyoto, and I train in martial arts 5 days per week. I teach English part time on the side to support myself.

Question 2: Why do you want to be a ninja?

The simple answer is, I love martial arts and think ninjas are cool. But this answer does an incredible disservice to the truth.

A ninja represents a particular philosophy and approach to life I admire.

I am tired of being fed the lie that I must go to college, get a degree, find a secure job, and work 40+ years in a job that slowly sucks the life out of me every single day.  Does that sound arrogant? Do I sound like some ungrateful kid? Do I need to just grow up and accept “that’s life”?

I used to be a teacher in Los Angeles. I had it made in terms of bullet points on a resume. I was getting a master’s degree, moving up the leadership pipeline, and soon to be running my own school. To the outside world, I had it made.

My parents talked about me with pride, my friends “oohed” and “ahhhed” as I spoke about the challenges of teaching in the inner city.

I impressed others with my ambitious plans to change education and eventually run my own school.

Only one problem: come my fourth year of teaching, things changed. I changed, the job changed, my attitude changed, the school changed. A bunch of small changes equals massive change.

Soon, I found myself waking up every night at 2 am. I couldn’t fall back asleep. I would run through all of the events of the upcoming day. My anxiety was shooting through the roof. All I could do was worry. I was overwhelmed and burnt out.

I tried to tell myself

It’s just a phase. You’ll get over it. You love teaching.

I was wrong.

Two months into the school year I was driving on a Saturday afternoon when it hit me. I had to stop lying to myself. I pulled over to the side of the road and cried.

I had done everything I was supposed to do to be happy and successful.  I had the degrees, I had a secure job, I was saving money, I was moving up the ladder and…

I hated my life and the direction my life was taking.

It was that moment when I realized things had to change, that I had to change.

Fast-forward 3 years.

I will never go back to that life, to that moment, to those bullshit beliefs.

I refuse to partake in the lie. I will not work at a job I hate, slowly move up the ladder, lose sleep every night and work myself into depression to achieve success.

I tried what society says I should do to be happy, and it didn’t work.

So now I choose to write the script, not follow it. [Click to tweet]

The Chasm

There is a great chasm between where I am today and where I was then.

Now, I live in Japan. I am thrilled everyday. I am doing what I love. I laugh constantly, I smile endlessly, I often am so excited for the following day I struggle to fall asleep.  But it did not happen over night. It took me 3 years to get to this point.

It takes time.

I share my process to encourage you to begin to discover the life you have always wanted.

The Follow Up

On Thursday I am publishing a follow up post that will explain specific steps that helped me discover my dream. This post is going to be featured over at The Hairy Edge. As soon as it goes live, I will update this page with a link.

If you are already a subscriber you will get an email with the link. I am really excited about the upcoming post because it is going to provide you with real concrete steps that you can take to begin to discover your dreams and purpose.  

Think about the following questions and then share your thoughts in the comments section.

Why do you follow a dream? What compelled you to step forward and dare to follow your dream?

Or if you are struggling to start your dream

What will it take for you to start moving toward your dream? 

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