Growing in Ways I Never Imagined

Over the past two years, I have grown in ways unimaginable to my former self. When I was a freshman in college, I was excited to embark on a new journey to better the high school me who was shy and struggled with academics. With starry eyes, I believed in the cliche saying, “College is a fresh start.” I charged right in, pouring 100% of myself and applied myself in ways I didn’t know I were possible. Along the way, I picked up wisdom and advice from my professors, people I met, and mentors that shifted my perspective. Some of the most impactful sayings were: “It’s OKAY to have down days. It’s part of the process,” and “What is it that you want to say?” The former allowed me to continue moving forward during last semester when I found it hard to continue working and the latter helped me clarify the many unsorted thoughts I had in my mind onto paper in a concise manner.

Looking over some of my past writings, I realized a common trend: hard work, growth, and dreams. These are still tenets I live by. But as I am nearing the one goal I set out to achieve at the start of college which is going to engineering school, the pace of life has slowed down. The reason being, Japan. Well that was not the sole reason. Other reasons include the constant “GOGOGO” mentality I’ve had since January and the fact that I haven’t gone home since January. I haven’t been able to see the friends that inspire me and the mentors that give me sage old advice and tell me to keep on keeping on (Master, Frank, and Mrs. Schussel, among others) I also haven’t shared what I’ve seen, learned, and experienced in Japan and the past semester with my parents. They are a big part of the reason why I keep moving forward. So Japan had a toll on me.

To capture my entire experience in Japan would be difficult. That can be found here: . Instead, I want to share with you all, a short excerpt from a reflection I wrote for my program that captures the sentiments of my experience. It is as follows:

“Sometimes, we have those moments we can recollect with such vivid accuracy. The paved tiles on the sidewalk, the lofted bridges that crisscross the roads, and the monorail sweeping through the city. These were scenes I observed as I perched on the rooftop of my dorm in Japan. Japan being such a different place has disrupted the norm to which I usually experience life. Every time I walked outside my dorm, I was entering an exciting world of difference and similarity. I remember the awe experienced in the castles I visited, the personalities and aura of each person I’ve met, and the very atmosphere and backdrop to which I maneuvered through hardship, happiness, and joy for three months. At every step, I experienced something new but at the same time I felt more whole and oddly, more complete and more me. By living and sharing the continuum of life alongside the Japanese, I realized something etching about my own identity. The bounds to which the world existed and my identity didn’t end on the boundaries defined as America. The bounds to my identity extended far beyond that. Through my experiences, the lines to my national identity started blurring with an older and more complete identity hidden within me. An identity that bridges our differences of race, religion, nationality, sex, and ethnic backgrounds; a wholly human identity. I felt within me, a rupture that revealed nakedly, my very humanness. And at once, I discovered my connection to the world outside of me and to the people living in places elsewhere. We live in one world, we share this world, and we are all strangely human.”

And that’s it! To have our very humanness motivate the work we do is incredibly important. Within each one of us we can find a world full of meaning. We are all connected, so maybe we can all help each other out sometime. A naive view admittedly, but one I hold on to closely.

As the school year is settling in, the pace of life has quickened. I am currently adjusting to this change in pace, but you know what? It is okay to take my time! I am finishing up some of my last thoughts remaining from Japan, but I can’t deny that going to Japan defined me in as many ways as dropping a rock in a pool of water would create endless ripples of change.