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Oubaitori

By: Jayde Lazier

Photo Credits: Sydney Gilberto Olimpio

 
 

The Japanese culture has a beautiful way of describing the big moments in one’s life, like the concept of growth and reawakening while you’re trying to connect with your individuality and place in the world. This is precisely the meaning of Oubaitori. The term derives from the four trees that bloom in the spring: the plum, peach, cherry blossom, and apricot. Each flower blooms at its own pace and in a different path, much like how we all grow and discover ourselves in contrasting ways but none less beautiful than another.


Comparison in growth is a concept that many of us often struggle with, especially when we’re transitioning from a child into an adult in our early 20s and struggling to find the balance between maintaining our youth amidst all our adult responsibilities. Even though this challenge might seem scary and confusing, it is one of the most beautiful gifts you’ll ever be given in life. You get a second chance to know yourself and come out of your journey as an entirely new version of who you once were.


Finding this balance can feel impossible, even lonely at times, because with change comes loss: loss of friends, loss of experiences, and even the loss of yourself. However, I find the negative connotation of loss to be flawed as losing something often opens up space for new things to grow. But being able to understand this concept versus accepting it are two very different things, and it’s something that we all come to in our own time. For years, I’ve struggled to accept this idea, and it’s only been in the last month or so that I recognized that growing up is going to be one of the most exciting and utterly confusing points in my life and I want to relish every second of it. I was always the kind of person who had their whole life planned out since I was a child, which sounds insane. But it worked really well for me for many years until it didn’t anymore.


I had a career as a professional ballet dancer, travelled a lot, and experienced more than I ever thought I would have by the age of 19.  But when I turned 19, I realized that there was one thing I didn’t have: joy in what I was doing and where I was in life. I was fortunate to have the things I did, but as I grew up more and I changed, suddenly my life plan (that I developed at the ripe age of 4) wasn’t making sense anymore. I had to stop and take a long look at myself and decide what meant more to me—keeping up the appearance of having it all or the genuine and intrinsic gut feeling of being fulfilled. Safe to say, I decided the latter was more important, but I had no idea where to start because my whole life, my entire identity revolved around dance. So much so that when I stopped dancing, I didn’t know who I was anymore. I didn’t know what my interests were, what my values and ideals were, or who I wanted to be. That was possibly the lowest place I’ve ever been in my whole life. It felt like when you’re trapped in a dark room, with closed doors, no voice besides your own, and not a single clue of what to say to yourself. So, you sit in a silence more deafening than a street corner at 4 am on a Monday night.

 

The good news is though that if you sit there for long enough, 4 am turns into 9 am, and people start waking up and the world will start to move again, you along with it. Eventually, you will find yourself a new plan. My plan just so happened to be a writer and journalist, which is not anywhere I ever thought I’d be. But three years later, at almost 22 years old, I am arguably in one of the best places of my life because I rebuilt, I redirected, and I stopped and took a breath.


The world puts so much pressure on us to know what we want to be when we grow up, and while we’re in university, that plan gets called into action and suddenly, we have to figure out how we’re going to achieve everything. Then, when we don’t measure up to what others have accomplished, we feel inadequate. As those four years go by, somehow, graduation approaches and the timer suddenly clocks out, except for the fact that it doesn’t.  Contrary to popular belief, being an adult doesn’t mean you have to give up your youthfulness and exist only for your work or education. It just means that you have more responsibilities and that you need to handle them in a more emotionally mature way.


Out of anything that I’ve learned in my few years of adulthood though, I would say that finding balance in your life is arguably the most important and hardest skill to possess, but it is crucial to a joyful existence. Don’t get me wrong: work, school, and success are all important aspects of life. But love, friendship, and fun—these are the real pillars of a truly successful life. We won’t always find love and joy in the same things either. We might change careers because we don’t feel fulfilled in our line of work anymore, or we might lose friends and significant others because our values and morals no longer align as time changes, and all of this is ok. Some things are only in your life for a certain amount of time to teach you about yourself, to show you what you want (or even what you don’t want) out of life, to make you feel emotions or gain experiences that you wouldn’t otherwise have had. Once these people have served their purpose, it’s ok to say goodbye. One day, you’ll find the career that fuels you for the rest of your life, and you’ll find the guy or girl or group of friends who are meant to stick around for the long haul.


I guess the point I’m trying to bring home for any of you reading is to not close yourself off to change and to not go back to what doesn’t fit in your life anymore just because it’s comfortable and convenient. It’s like when you throw out the waste of the day to shed the things that no longer serve you. You don’t go running after the truck begging for the items back, you let them go and move on to something new. Change looks different for everyone, and the amount of time or direction it takes you to find yourself is never going to be linear with someone else’s. Maybe it’ll take you a month or two to figure it out, or maybe like me, it’ll take you a few years to accept that you are worth the effort to grow and change. Whatever direction it takes you in, I urge you to think back to the concept of Oubaitori. Much like the trees that bloom in the spring, each bud blossoms in a different pathway, at a different pace, and visually ends up looking entirely different from one another. Don’t let the comparison of yourself to others rob you of enjoying and flourishing in every aspect of your life. Your journey to get there is just as valid and meaningful as anyone else’s.

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