Finding Your Passion

By Tomoki Nomura

[4 minute read]

As a college student, it is important to find a passion to explore outside of your major. School is stressful. It is nearly impossible to be a full-time student, manage a social life, and navigate early adulthood. Therefore, it is crucial to find a healthy balance between academics and everything else. It can be hard to figure out a way to fulfill our responsibilities and commitments without driving ourselves crazy.  This is why cultivating a passion can be extremely beneficial.

Having a passion is the underrated key to success in college. It is a great way to destress and take a break from academics while continuing to stay motivated and focused. Students who focus solely on their academics and careers have a high probability of burning out. Especially at a school like USC, where there is a heavy emphasis placed on career preparation, it is crucial to get away from academics occasionally.

I was lucky enough to stumble into my passion early on in college. My outlet for stress since freshman year has been salsa dancing. I’ve met a lot of people through salsa and made many fond memories of times dancing with friends. It has made my life fulfilling.

Photo by Omar Rodriguez on Unsplash

I started dancing salsa because of an insecurity. As a child, I always admired the art of dance. I loved watching musicals and videos of people dancing. I wanted to be able to move my body confidently like the dancers I watched. Unfortunately, I never came across any opportunities to learn. During my first semester of college, I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone and started looking for a way to learn to dance. By coincidence, the first opportunity that appeared before me was salsa. The salsa team was holding free classes in the gym every week. I went to the first lesson, enjoyed it, and decided to stick around. Around the same time, the team was holding auditions for future members. With my friends’ encouragement, I tried out and made the team. From there, my love for Latin dance was born.

Dancing salsa has been an important part of my college experience. It has been the source of many fond memories. I’ve also made friends through the different events and they taught me to be confident in myself. Most importantly, salsa has helped me grow as a person. As a freshman, I had very low self-esteem. I did not think very highly of myself as a person, and as a result, I was unable to be fully myself. Salsa has been the cure for much of this.

Over the past four years in college, I have learned to truly love myself for who I am because of salsa. My growth as a dancer correlates directly with the growth in my self-esteem. The better I become at salsa dancing, the more I learn to appreciate myself. Looking back at my freshman year, I can clearly observe the impact that learning to dance has made on my entire life. I’m truly grateful for finding salsa in college.

For me, salsa is intertwined with my personal growth. It is rewarding to look back on how I have changed for the better because of it. My wish for every USC student is to find a passion like mine. I hope that every student can find a hobby that shapes who they are and continually pushes them to become their best selves, both in and out of school.

Tomoki was an international student from Japan and studied design at USC. He was born and raised in Tokyo but went to high school in the United States (Maine, Vermont, and Utah).  For the first two years of college, he studied at the University of Vermont but transferred to USC in the Fall of 2018 because he hated the cold. You will definitely get along with Tomoki if you enjoy any of the following: the ocean, food adventures, travel (not the Cancun spring break type though, he doesn’t like those). Even if none of those seem appealing to you, Tomoki spreads himself thin when it comes to his interests so you’ll definitely find something in common with him!  For example, some of his other random hobbies include salsa dancing, finding cheap deals on Craigslist, and driving around LA when the traffic isn’t horrible. Over the past decade, Tomoki has not lived in the same place for more than two years at a time.  He understands the difficulties of adjusting to a new environment because he’s moved multiple times and has become a natural at adapting.  If you’re having difficulties with adjusting to life at USC, he’s definitely the person to talk to. Tomoki is a very curious person who loves to learn about the different perspectives that people have and the various approaches that they take to live their lives.