Finding Myself In Kamakura, Japan

Sometimes the lessons behind a particular situation may lie dormant for years until you finally have an ‘A-HA’ moment and piece them together. See, I have learned that the reason I constantly have fallen victim to unnecessary circumstance is because I have yet to learn that there is a message that lies within those moments of oppression and confusion.

About a two years ago, I found myself desperate to get out of this strange funk. As many women in their early twenties experience: the unhealthy relationship, the constant questioning of what it is that makes us happy, what are we  going to do after college, and so forth. I found myself desperate to shake it. Despite clear instructions from my intuition, I underwent a series of undefined deep depression, anxiety, unhappiness and indulgence in destructive behavior.

In my desperation, I understood that I was chasing after something. Something more and that the participation of reckless behavior and the latter were all temporary forms of relief to the constant thoughts that circulated around my personal growth as a woman who simply wanted more for herself. As women, I believe that more often than not, we forget to analyze our feelings against ourselves. We become too hard on ourselves without fully addressing the core thoughts we create against ourselves and our true identity.

I actively became persistent in the pursuit to finding out more about self. I was in search for my release. I needed a particular craving to be touched and expanded and that moment came to me as an opportunity to study abroad in Seoul, South Korea. As a part of my universities Journalism and Mass Communication course offering for broadcast students, students would be traveling to Seoul and Tokyo to complete multimedia pieces centering around worldly issues within the South Korean perspective.

I remember telling myself this was it! This is my opportunity to do something for myself by myself, but what do I know about multimedia production? I  knew that this was my moment to explore parts of myself that I never took the time to explore or was too hesitant to take a leap of faith to begin. I knew that I had to go, but I played with the idea. I brought it up in a conversation and almost laughed it off like it was something I could never think to accomplish because of the amount of money needed to fund and the amount of comfort needed to be able to be in a foreign country with a group of people I feel less than equal to.  I say less than equal to because these students were all well advanced in their understanding of creating multimedia pieces in the form of storytelling and I was just a writer.  

You know all those thoughts. Thoughts on how, this could be a good thing, but then focusing too much on the action of going through with it. I had to fight my comfort and insecurity and channel someone I did not yet recognize, until today. Almost a year later and I get it. There I was in a room filled with broadcasting majors and I was the only writer. If you had gone to the university I had went to you’d understand the form of elitism centered around those in our Journalism and Mass Communication building who were a part of the broadcasting crew. I felt an obvious sense of inferiority. Eight white, 2 Asian and one black girl who still did not know if she had a talent for writing or creative storytelling while the others were four years well into their abilities .

Well, it’s safe to say that I got over that initial fear and found myself on an 18-hour flight to Seoul, Korea and Tokyo, Japan. Seoul, Korea was an experience I cannot fully describe. It was a whole different side of the world that I understood many will probably not be able to touch or experience, and for that I had to keep reminding myself. I got myself here, this is real!

The real lesson wouldn’t be taught until we left for a week visit to Tokyo, Japan. The style, life, energy received there almost matched that of New York City except I stuck out like a sore thumb. Among the group travel we did to understand the community and history of the Japanese, I still found myself at uneasy thoughts. My week was limiting with the fact that I knew in three days, I would be back in America and that I still had nothing to offer myself. I fought with this constantly. I fought with the understanding that I felt uncomfortable with the notion of being alone. I fought with myself because maybe that was pathetic and it’s healthy to be by yourself. I fought this because I was uncomfortable with all things pertaining to getting to know who I was and what I enjoy.

The last full day we had in Japan I decided I had to go on a journey on my own. When will I really have another chance to do this? I knew of a spot in Kamakura, Japan just 2 hours outside of Minato Tokyo that rest the giant memorable Buddha. I knew that this is where I needed to be. I knew I would have the questions and that I would leave with a lighter mind. I became proactive on my pursuit of self-awareness at that very moment. Imagine, foreign territory. No traveling Wi-Fi, inner cities, country side, no English, nothing familiar, a train ride, a bus ride and a thirty-minute walk to visit something so beautiful in search of self.

I found the awe in the journey. Recognizing at that moment where I was and where I had been. I recognize the spirits and energy of those around me on that train commute and felt their stares on someone so unfamiliar and I smiled. There was beauty in knowing I played a difference in someone’s day by just being present. There was beauty in knowing that I touched a part of the world many may not. I was breathing air from a breeze so sacred and pure. I found the awe and found myself at a Buddhist ministry meditating my negativity away.

See, we all know what we want to do. It’s that inner voice that speaks to our soul that we often times disregard because of the challenges the world puts in place for us. We tell ourselves what it takes to make us happy, but again counteract that belief with a confusion tied to us not being deserving because we’ve made mistakes. We punish ourselves for things we are not in control of and continue to lie in comfort and unchanged circumstances due to the abundance of fear and the unknown. I took a leap into the uncomfortable. I channeled the future woman I envisioned and drew strength from that and placed myself into the position to receive.

Two years later and I’m still learning from this experience. As women, it’s a liberating act to feel a sense of comfort and unease to being alone. I feel we tend to attempt to control outcomes in which we know we have no direction to complete. My biggest lesson from this is patience. Being patient with myself and to not hurt myself with words. Our thoughts are manifesting as we think and we have to actively CHOOSE, always, constantly to be happy and to find the awe in the discomfort or unwilling. Life is a building block in which every circumstance and lesson is eventually used to your benefit. I found a piece of me in Kamakura, Japan that day. I found that I have to trust the process and understand that I am always where I am supposed to be.

Two years later, out of that relationship, out of school, and into all things new, I take those feelings and share them with you to empower you. Women, we must find the awe in being uncomfortable in our pursuits to actively find who it is that we are or who we are meant to be. Listen to our intuition and be an advocate to a healthy mind. If we are feeling down about ourselves or our self-esteem is low, channel someone you admire. Because you know them well, play the part and watch yourself shine to confidence. And travel. There is a whole world out there waiting to experience your smile and mind.