Life Without Limits

I remember back in middle school, there was a guy at school who could sprint the entire 1,000-meter race. For someone like me, who struggled to finish even 1,000 meters, he was like a god. By high school, I learned about marathon runners who could run 42 kilometers in one go. For someone like me, who still found 1,000 meters challenging, they were also godlike. It wasn’t until college that I was inspired by a book one day and decided to run 10 kilometers at once. It wasn’t easy at first, but I pushed through. I still remember how I felt after that run: exhausted, exhilarated, happy, relieved, and clear-headed. I felt something deep inside me had shed, giving way to something new. Simply put, it was a kind of confidence. That was in 2015, and I was 20 years old.

Fast forward to the 1,000-meter test that year, where I, who was usually among the last, effortlessly took first place for the first time. The former first-place runner, slightly grudgingly, said to me, "I remember you were at the back last year. How did you get so fast this year?" I just smiled without replying. I still remember how I felt then: happy and relieved. In the following years, I successfully completed my first 21 kilometers, my first 42 kilometers, and eventually my first 100 kilometers.

Fast forward to the second year, when I wanted to study abroad and had to start preparing from scratch. There was a lecture on a school cooperation program, and I attended to gather more information. Afterward, I approached the lecturer, explained my situation, and she told me that with my current qualifications and the application process, it was 100% impossible to get into my dream school. I still remember how I felt hearing that: defiant and stubborn. That year, I was 22.

Fast forward to the third year, when I anxiously received the decision that my prospective supervisor was willing to accept me into their lab. I remember I was interning and saw the message on my way back on the subway. I still remember how I felt then: calm and composed. That year, I was 23.

Fast forward to the fourth year, when I embarked on a few months of life as a foreign student, struggling through daily preparation for university exams (I had entered as a preparatory student and had to go through another round of exams). I had to adapt to language barriers, research, and everything around me. That year's competition was intense, with rumors that there were no more slots for foreign students. People around me started planning for alternatives, either switching to English programs or applying to other schools simultaneously. I still remember how I felt then: tense, pressured, and uneasy. On the first day of the Chinese New Year, the results of the graduate school entrance exams were released. At 10 AM Japan time, I nervously entered my exam number and anxiously searched for it among the results. In the bottom left corner, I saw my number. A surge of electric excitement coursed through my body. Then, I heard a knock on my door from my friend next door, who was also with me. I opened the door, and he told me we both made it. We were so happy we jumped up and down like kids, hugging each other. Later, we found out that out of all the foreign students, only the two of us were admitted. I still remember how I felt then: excited, happy, satisfied, and moved. That year, I was 24.

So, what am I trying to convey with all this? I believe it's about not setting limits for yourself. Things that once seemed impossible can be entirely achievable if you really try (putting in all your effort, leaving no room for doubt). If you don’t try, you won’t fail, but you won’t succeed either. If you do try, things might turn out great, or they might not. Who knows? However, if you genuinely invest your heart and soul, the results are often remarkable. Life has no limits. Focus on the moment, believe it, create it.

It's now 2023, and I’m 28 years old. Some people might be financially independent by 28, while others are just starting out in society. For me, 28 is a great age because I have rediscovered my lost curiosity and desire for knowledge. I long to explore, discover, and create without setting limits for myself, telling myself what I should or shouldn’t do. Only by truly trying will you discover some of the unknowns, and that feeling is wonderful.


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