What "Life of Immersion" means to me

Lately I've been wanting so badly to find out how to better tell the stories I already have. Two days ago I stumbled upon the Storytelling for Change course offered by Acumen and The Ariel Group. The first thing I came across was Jacqueline Novogratz's TED talk "Inspiring a life of immersion".

  • How did you feel when you finished watching the talk?
  • How did those human stories Jacqueline shared triggered such reactions?
  • How were her stories integrated to her key message of her talk?

All the course participants got asked these three questions after watching the talk. When trying to compost my own comment, I ended up articulating the following thoughts and would like to share with a broader audience:

I felt so humble yet empowered after I watched the talk. I was deeply shaken that there is so much more I am able to do in my own life to make an impact in this world - by simply “change a small portion of the events”, personally or professionally, I can shape this world a better place in my own way.

The stories Jacqueline shared make me feel so connected because they relate to my own personal experience to some extend. No I never had to face the humiliation of the world because I was a black girl receiving education in white people’s world. However, I was born when the one-child policy was strictly enforced, and I am a daughter of the eldest son in an ordinary Chinese family who didn’t get college education while his brother and sister went to world-class universities, and even studied abroad with advanced degrees. I grew up trying very hard to earn my grandfather’s assertion that girls can be extraordinary too. Despite the society’s ruthless son preference, my parents let me choose “the much more difficult path of transformation, transcendence, compassion and love but also accountability and justice”. They exposed me to computer earlier than anyone else in the neighborhood. They encouraged me to choose the college and major that I wanted and continue the education however long I could support myself for. They believed in the career path I picked, even though completely different from theirs. Eventually I made my way to see a bigger world - not only I finished my studies in one of the best information schools in the world, but also I am lucky to have a job doing I am good at. I also come to sense that I am not doing it for someone else but myself. By doing that I already made a difference in the world, and I am certainly continue doing it.

I do user experience design for a living. Regardless the industries I’ve worked in and the products I’ve designed for, the moments when I heard people thanked me for making their life better - sometimes I saw big smiles on their faces - are the most satisfying ever. Being a friend of my friends, or a daughter of my parents, or other identities I have, the time when they share their feelings with me, either good or bad, is their way of letting me have an influence on them.

I believe it is the similarity and relatedness that triggered the audience’s reaction and mine. What “living a life of purpose and greater meaning” means is different from one to another. As well as the cost of making a change. And the awareness of where to start and how to do it. But as long as each of us starts somewhere for our own version of “life of immersions”, we’ve left a sustainable footprint on this planet.