Room 807 at the University of Southern California is a dorm room, a home, and a zone of unyielding love and support. My suitemates are a unique mélange of spirit, heart, and ambitiousness that cannot be replicated. Unsurprisingly, our first semester has flown by in a flurry of coffee, midterm exams, and sleepless nights, and it's hard to believe that, as a student in the World Bachelor Program, I will soon be departing USC and embarking on new adventures in Hong Kong and Milan for the next two years. I have realized that my suite has taught me life lessons that I will carry with me wherever I travel. So, here's to you, Sam, Laura, Anaïs, Amenda, Morgan, Najwa, and Angie--this is your thank you letter.
1. Embrace Your Identity
Growing up as a Japanese American girl, I often felt out of touch with my ancestral history. I have lived in areas with relatively low numbers of Japanese people throughout the majority of my life, and I am more acclimated to American culture than I am to my Japanese heritage. This dissonance created a constant feeling of shame around my identity that I previously struggled to remedy; however, surrounding myself with a diverse group of girls from different ethnicities and nationalities has motivated me to connect with my family history and culture in ways that I previously avoided. These differences make us who we are, and they should be discussed and celebrated rather than suppressed and forgotten.
2. Work Hard, Play (Equally) Hard
During high school, I was constantly running. From homework, to sports, to volunteering, to clubs, I could go weeks without hanging out with my friends (sometimes, I would spend 12+ hours just doing homework). At USC, my suitemates have taught me how to balance my course workload and social life. Only focusing on homework, for example, can create an unhealthy lifestyle that perpetuates consistent stress and unhappiness. Incorporating scheduled breaks like attending a yoga class, grabbing a bite to eat with a friend, or watching an episode of your favorite Netflix series can refresh your brain and prepare you to tackle the next section of your to-do list.
3. There is Strength in Being Soft
Contemporary culture celebrates spilling tea, petty queens, and celebrity beef; however, being unequivocally kind requires a grueling amount of grace and strength that is often underrated by society. Being giving and warm to others who may not reciprocate these behaviors demonstrates a level of maturity that, to many, is difficult to achieve. This message is not equated with becoming a doormat for others to traipse over; rather, it requires choosing positivity over negativity and focusing on important factors in life like your health, personal relationships, academics, and passions instead of things that are beyond your control. After all, your actions and words cannot change the way another person behaves; you can only control the way you react to things.