I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time
I keep a hand out for those left behind
Because you’re fine, I walk the line
Take these modified lyrics as you will, I simply got the title line stuck in my head. Last time you got to see a look into some vulnerability regarding language and cultural barriers from me. Those were true, and still hold to an extent, but as I said, I walk the line. I walk the line between that vulnerability inherent to new experiences such as this on one side while maintaining my confidence and decisiveness honed from much work and life experience. I keep a close eye on this heart of mine. You have to, if you want to grow as a person.
Being non-traditional and having some life experience out in the “real world” has been a hallmark of many essays and arguments for my ability to cope here, and that wasn’t just for show. I’ve leveraged that to gain leadership in a student organization back home and to run it as well as I can. While I didn’t directly join any leadership here, I find it’s not something that can simply be turned off. I keep my eyes wide open all the time. Any of you who may have some experience organizing events or outings with large groups may know the kitten-wrangling nature of such tasks. Take 15+ people, most below 22 years old, out into a foreign society where they barely know the language and you can see how that headache can be doubled.
I find myself falling into a backup leader role to the staff excursion leader when we have such excursions. It’s common for some to either wander off to look at something cool and accidentally get left behind or get stuck on something as simple as putting money on the subway card while others go on ahead. I keep a hand out for those left behind. I’ve found myself frequently between two large clumps to make sure the whole group doesn’t split, or staying back with one or a few people who just can’t keep up on the physically demanding excursions would otherwise be left to fend for themselves. (This is not to say the staff isn’t doing an excellent job, these things just happen.)
Even when out with a group for a night of karaoke or dinner, I find myself the one to clumsily speak Japanese with the clerk or waiter that knows very little English. I started actively doing this recently because I frequently hear others talk about being nervous about saying or doing the wrong thing, so they just don’t. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made a fool of myself plenty, but because you’re fine, I walk the line.
Now enjoy my absolute favorite (and most silly) picture from the Osaka Aquarium and a beautiful tree in the Botanical gardens, both independent excursions I’ve done with another classmate here.