Breathe in and out – Atsuko Suzuki
After spending 3 weeks in Seattle for Phase 2 of the TOMODACHI-Microsoft iLEAP Social Innovation and Leadership Program, I am finally back in Japan. I returned home to my normal life, centered around school, and sometimes feel the fear of forgetting to take time to breathe.
I’m interested in a future lifestyle in developed countries, especially in Japan. We usually have enough clothes to wear, food to eat, and roofs over our heads. We are supposed to be living a rich life, but I feel a strange sense of emptiness ocasionally. In Tokyo, I often see people who take late night crowded trains, with tired business suits and tired faces. With that sort of situation, I imagine an average busy life after graduating from university, and ask myself what exactly would be the best life for me. I don’t have an exact answer, but I think I might have found a clue toward it from my time in Seattle.
iLEAP was a place where I could be my authentic self by breathing in and out.
Breathing in means taking the time to sit and think something over without being disrupted or disturbed by difficult circumstances or outside pressures that I feel in my daily life. During the program, each of us had an iLEAP journal to write about anything that came to our minds. It was really helpful for me to write to get a better idea of why I was here. I am a person who often changes my mind, and I’ve tried my hand at a lot of different things. When I reflected on the sessions and wrote in my journal, there were some moments that I was able to realize my deeper beliefs that lead to all my actions. This raise in awareness gives me the confidence to know that the path I choose is never wrong.
Breathing out means being able to show my feelings and thoughts to others honestly. It is difficult and a bit scary to share my inner thoughts even if I am speaking to my closest friends. In the first week, I was confused because I had felt an invisible pressure that led me to having an open and honest conversation to other iLEAP participants who I had only known for such a short period of time. However, I gradually noticed that I didn’t need to talk at all, but if I wanted to share, they would listen carefully and respond thoughtfully. It was an incredibly comfortable community for me.
Through this process, I recognized that during my time in Seattle, I was supported by many people and felt rich in my heart. I think having this kind of emotion is one of the keys to living a fulfilling life. I look forward to thinking more deeply about my life’s big question in the next 5 months while working on my change project.