Amanda Bynes

“Wishing on falling star….

Wondering where you ah- ah – are.”

~Girl on TV by Lyte Funkie Ones

She seemed to have the whole world in her hands. She had interviews, photoshoots, movies, television shows, and red carpet events lined up. Teenaged girls all over America were dying be her best friend, and take a leaf from her book in hopes that they might discover the some of her success for themselves. Paparazzi surrounded her, desperately attempting to steal a glimpse into her personal life and capture photos of her dazzling smile and characteristic wave. Whether she was Starbucks, at the nail solon, at the mall, or at a high profile celebrity event, she greeted them with the same politeness, respect, and cheer. Her reputation was untarnished, aside from the occasional bitter article commenting on the puffiness of her face. She was living proof that not all celebrities had to be rude, constantly partying, drug abusers. She was dead-set on her career, and more importantly, she valued her family over everything else. She was a counterargument to the claims that Hollywood was a ruthless machine that destroyed the souls of who ventured too close.

Did we speak too soon? Did we force her up on a pedestal that she never aspired to reach in the first place? We saw so much promise in her, but she soon fell off the radar, only to reemerge in the headlines under a completely new spotight. Wigs. Piercings. Plastic Surgery. Drinking and Driving. Drugs. Twerking. Verbally and physically abusing other people. For the past years, the media has been helplessly watching her downward spiral. Some people hadn’t been following her until she began to resurface in the media due to her unusual behaviour. People who didn’t know what she was find her outlandish behaviour entertaining. But those who knew her, looked up to her, and respected her for who we thought she was were heartbroken. We thought she had it all. But something in her snapped. There was something about herself and the untarnished, clean, good girl image that she despised. She despised it so fiercely that she tried to erase all evidence of who she was. And it was effective, for it is impossible to remember her adorable dimpled smile without the image of her current face, caked with layers of makeup and changed by plastic surgery superimposing her innocence. And the worst part is, things don’t seem to be getting better. She’s been on a steady decline, and we can do nothing but just watch. She had no idea that there is anything wrong with her at all, and that’s what makes it so scary. She resists help, and as long as she resists it, no one will be able to help her.

At this point, we can’t do anything but wish. Wish that this young star will somehow break her fall before she crashes, explodes, and is left with nothing but extinguished smithereens. Even knowing that I can’t do anything, I can’t pull myself away from the story. It grows more and more hopeless, but my eyes and heart are glued to it. And whenever a new story emerges, I shake my head with disbelief. How could someone go through such a staggering transformation in the matter of just a few years? I can’t help but wonder what happened to the person that we fell in love with. Has she faded away completely? Or is she lurking underneath, waiting for the right time to emerge?

Did that person even exist at all?

Safe Haven

Each day, I would eagerly bounce along the turquoise-railed hallway of rooms all the way to the last one, the most mysterious and elusive of them all. Opening the door was like unlocking a portal to whole new world. The soft honey-colored light that filled the room had grown to represent a maternal embrace. It was my safe haven. Although I slept, ate, studied, ran around, and drew on the whiteboards, both pealing out laughter and shedding tears in that room, I never truly stepped through the doorway, never truly crossed the barrier to the room. There was an avoidable sense of hesitance and fear of being rejected from the place I most wanted to belong in.

Only later did it occur to me that same room that represented my home away from home, where I had found so much comfort and security on campus, turned out to be a venomous, parasitical monster, feeding on my attachment to it and fostering an exclusive and cultish community. There is now enough spatial and temporal difference between myself and the room, along with all the painful memories attached to it, and I am starting to unclench my resentful grip. And as the distance has allowed me to reflect more objectively, epiphany struck me like a slap in the face: it’s not the room that was toxic, no! It was my relentless and obsessive memory of it.

I was not actively seeking a new home away from home to replace that room, yet I can’t say I was avoiding it either. There is an overwhelming sense of déjà vu when I climb up three flights of stairs and walk past the offices, feeling a gust of cool air as I push open the door to the new room on the other side of the planet. This one is cool rather than warm, white rather than honey colored, and scattered with candy-apple green chairs and wooden tables, bookshelves, and colorful stars made from construction paper rather than periodic tables, flasks, and science-related cartoons. But there is an uncanny similarity – in even as I sit there, very much inside the room, I feel a definite absence of contact with the place and an overwhelming sense of longing to reach out and close the gap. Perhaps it is better to stay here, with a healthy sense of tension, in the periphery. I wouldn’t want to taint my perception of my new safe haven and risk losing it permanently.

Empathizing with The Other

Like many students in Professor Aparna Vaidik’s Trends in History Foundation Course, I found Johannes Fabian’s article, “Time and the Emerging Other,” to be a challenging text, as it was densely packed with information, vocabulary, and unfamiliar concepts. However, Gabe, the Teaching Assistant for the course, imparted a few reading suggestions that I believe have helped me distinguish the gist of the article from a dispersion cloud of perplexing material.

The last paragraph of the article ties the divergent stands of the article into a nice little bow. “Little more than technology and sheer economic exploitation,” Fabian claims, “seem to be left over for the purposes of ‘explaining’ Western superiority.” His argument is self-explanatory – Western societies tend to marginalize other cultures and dismiss them as behind modern times. However, they gain the credibility to disparage other cultures simply because of the factors mentioned above. I am going to focus on the point of technological innovations. Our class discussion brought us to an interesting metaphor. Societies tend to follow similar historical trends, a few members of the class claimed, and these societies and trends are reflected by the separate boogie carts on a roller coaster and the similar paths they follow. Each cart takes a similar path to arrive at the same location, even though it is not synchronous. I believe that in using this metaphor, it is important to realize that the roller coaster goes in a loop and does not necessarily have an endpoint. The end of the roller coaster is not necessarily an end in the true sense of the word, for it is a loop and is constantly returning to the past. Clichéd as the following statement may be, history repeats itself. While the analogy is effective in debunking the notion of a linear innovative progress across a period of time, it does not account for the cultural differences in societies that might even change the pathways to a similar result. There are a variety of possible processes that might lead to the same temporary result.

Our discussion has refined my view of South Asia, and specifically, India, in many ways. As I was born and brought up in the United States, I must admit, rather shamefully, that there have been times when I viewed parts of India as backwards societies. But our readings and class discussions have forced me to consider that because there is no universal truth or concept of modernity, it is unfair of me to criticize cultures as backwards. I might not agree with their values, but that does not make me more modern than they are.

Overall, I have come to the conclusion that Fabian is encouraging us not only to give up any superior attitudes we might have towards supposedly less developed cultures, but we also should not deny coevalness with societies of our past. Since time is not linear and there certainly is not a linear progression of humanity across time periods, it is reasonable to assume that we might be in fact repeating the mistakes our ancestors made. The concept of time should not forge a distance between ourselves and our ancestors. Being born at a later time does not make us better than those who were born earlier. Hopefully, studying diverse historical cultures will allow us to see similarities between ourselves and past citizens and allow us to develop a sense of empathy for those whom we refer to as the Other.

A New Home

Although I had great expectations about the Writing Center at Ashoka University, the CWC managed to meet, if not surpass, my imaginations. Naturally, being a center with the prescribed purpose of aiding students with writing and communications skills, the center has certainly fulfilled its fundamental purpose. But there is something so unique and special about the CWC. It could be the plush green-apple colored chairs surrounding the smooth wooden tables that are shaped like guitar picks, or the light manila bookshelves and glass panel distinguishing the warm, carpeted and yet unnamed “Room of Requirement”, as I like to call it. Or it could be the smell of coffee, the occasional lounge music, and the excited intellectual chattering filling the air – the tutors, professors, and like-minded students from extremely diverse backgrounds yet sharing the innate kindness, warmth, and eagerness to learn and share their voices with the world. In just one week, the CWC has become a place to test my intellectual capabilities and clear my mind, a source of another close knit community within a close knit community, and a home away from home.

Shit People Say to the Depressed

I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety three years ago, although I am certain that the disorders have plagued me for much longer. Try as I may, I find it extremely difficult not to fall into the pit of cynicism. Moreover, I find it unfortunate how ignorant many people are in the realm of mental health.

Of course, every person is different. Some things that I find frustrating might be helpful to others under similar circumstances. I shall address three major things that have been personally frustrating to me. I have put together quotes from highly intelligent and well-intentioned people. I highlight the fact that they have good intentions because chances are, those who are truly malicious and ill-willed will not bother to take note of this and try to filter what they say, if they manage to even get past the first paragraph. I am taking advantage of this opportunity to explain to those who truly care what depression feels like for me. Please excuse the extreme cynicism and bear with me!

“It will be okay.”

Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. Do you know everything about my life? Do you know how many times in my past I have been looking to the future hopefully, only to be bitterly disappointed? Can you look into my future and honestly tell me that it will be okay?

After a recent relapse of my depressive episodes, I thought the worst was over. From now on, it could only go uphill, right? I felt hopeful, clear-headed, and ready to face the lemons that life threw at me. That same day, my dog, as dear to me as any other family member or close friend, had a heart attack and left this world forever. Nah, life didn’t just throw lemons at me. It squeezed lemon juice into my fresh wounds.

Maybe it will get better eventually, but relying on such a murky and uncertain possibilities will not change how I feel now.

“You know, this is all happening because of your cognitive errors.”

No duh. Would you tell a cancer victim that their condition occurred to them because of physiological errors? Obviously! Depression is a mental disease, and the sooner people accept that, the less people will judge each other for things that they might not completely understand.

EVERYONE has cognitive errors to a certain extent. Everyone is flawed, and everyone makes mistakes. What is a cognitive “error” anyways? Is it a cognitive property that tends to make us unhappy? Stop treating it like it is something we erroneously planned out. Being depressed is just an extreme chemical imbalance in the brain. It’s not always under our control.

“You need to stop being so sensitive. Be strong.”

Let me tell you something. Depression HURTS. It’s not a passing worry that stings for a second, and starts to ease. It’s not something that can be easily brushed off. It is a pang. It is physically painful. Imagine your chest sandwiched between two extremely heavy and powerful magnets of opposite poles. It bears down on your heart, and wears it down.

Have you ever had one of those nightmares where you fall down flat on the ground, and people walk all over and trample you as you futilely struggle to lift yourself? You raise your head with every ounce of willpower you own, and open your mouth to say something, but alas! Someone’s polished black boot slams against your lips, crushing your nose inwards and and pushing your mutilated face back down on the concrete floor.

You want to cry out for help, but no one can hear you. And then finally you see a familiar face. “That sucks. Sorry,” they manage, and inch away from you. Because who wants to be affected by such negativity? Better to surround yourself with those who make you happy. They run far, far, away, looking back at first with pity, but finally deciding to distance themselves. They favor the company of those who will make them smile, laugh, and forget about the piteous creature writhing in pain on the floor who can only bring them down.

Depression is a headache, heartache, and stomach ache. Even the smallest of things – a friend laughing at your foolish actions, considering you an amusingly clueless and stupid individual or a parent closing their bedroom door, forging a physical wooden block of distance from you – makes your stomach twist with uneasiness. It is as if there are a few big, slimy tuna fish living in your guts, and any time someone does something that disappoints you, they start colliding against your walls furiously, trying to escape. Your stomach is such an inhospitable environment that even the most repulsive of creatures want to abandon you.

So, yes, it would be helpful if I were stronger and less sensitive. But it is not something than I can change so easily.

On a hopeful note, I am planning to make some drastic changes in my life. Will it work out for the better? Who knows. I can’t control how the world reacts to my decisions. I can only hope.

Reluctant Extrication

Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend — or a meaningful day.
~ Dalai Lama

As I delved deeper into the dark tunnel of college, careers, and finances, inching further away from the posh and protected bubble of high school, it was impossible to prevent myself from losing faith in friendships and the nature of humanity. As time flew by, I began to develop an increasingly hard shell of cynicism, and just like a frightened snail, I crawled under it and relied on it for protection. I though that if I stayed under the shell and did not let anyone in, I would not get hurt anymore. But for the short time that I have known my roommate, I have learned more about how to navigate life without my shell, certainly, than what I expected to learn.

Almost everyone who meets her will few her as a paragon of perfection, with her pin-straight and thick silky black hair, her smooth and tan skin, her lean and upright stature, and her lithe movements and words. She walks gracefully as if she does not carry any weight, and words fall from her lips softly like pearls of wisdom beyond her years. She is calm and collected and peaceful as a small pond in the middle of the woods, and one would think that emotions simply bounce off her like the light, tickling wind, leaving her calm and unaffected.

However, subtle as she might act under pubic eye, living in the confines of the same cramped closet-like triple converted from a double, I have gotten to know the sides of her that are not as pretty. It seemed impossible to consolidate her contradictory character traits – she is rational yet emotional, consistent yet mercurial, and accepting yet judgmental. However, these less attractive qualities have not decreased her value as a person in my eyes, but have illustrated her emotional strength and maturity. She is not less susceptible to emotions than an average college student, but she is strong enough not to let them dictate her actions.

She has always been a mysterious character, which is partly why so many of my peers are naturally drawn to her. She has a somewhat aloof personality; she is very amiable, yet she keeps everyone at arm’s length. She has many respectful, kind, and warm friends, yet she is independent and does not rely on other people. She is very picky about her friends, and she once remarked to me “I don’t consider you my friend; I think of you as my roommate.” At first, I tried to ignore the sting of the comment, but as I considered it more deeply, I understood what she meant and discovered that the feeling was mutual. If we had not been assigned the same living arrangement in our first year of college, I’m not sure our personalities would allow our relationship to pass the acquaintance stage. Yet I soon grew accustomed to coming home and opening to door to her smooth black hair falling to her shoulders as she leaned over her Linear Algebra textbook, squeezed at her wooden desk under the bunk bed where she slept.

She is a remarkably intellectual individual. The majority of the students at our large public university are like factory robot,zombies, and grade machines. Although I cannot deny that my roommate was set on achieving that elusive A, she does not merely study for that purpose. I have encountered her on multiple occasions questioning the material and pushing her understanding to a deeper level. I must admit, rather shamefully, that I enjoyed the intellectual attention she has given me, often handing me her essays from Humanities class, her college transfer applications, or simply self reflections to read. It makes me proud that she views me as her intellectual equal, and someone that she can learn from.

This upcoming school term, she will be transferring to a small liberal arts college on the opposite coast of the country. I will not pretend I had an influential part in her admissions decision or her personal decision to accept the offer. I did, upon her request for advice, urge her to visit the schools she applied to before making her decision, and I believe it proved useful in narrowing down some of her choices. I also will not attempt to futilely cover up my disappointment in her decision. However, whatever it might be, I respect her decision and I have all the hopes in the world that she finds her new school intellectually and personally stimulating and fulfilling.

I did not quiet realize until very recently the extent of the impact she has had on me, and quite frankly, it was a frightening realization. It is very rare for me to allow someone, albeit unconsciously, to come so close to penetrating my shell – thus far, I believe I have only let one other person come so close. I recall all too well the shock, pain, denial, and anger, and for this reason, rather than allowing myself to be swallowed, squeezed, stretched, twisted, and thrown into this confusing emotional vortex, it is best for me to draw a boundary. I am now better at dealing with this emotional trap – I have made grave mistakes in the past, but I now know how to navigate relationships more safely.

How ironic is this? The one person who has made me aware of the Buddhist principles of non attachment is the one I must emotionally extricate myself from. This does not mean I will not cherish the wonderful memories and appreciate what I have learned from her. But now it is clear that she departing, both physically and emotionally, and chasing after something that is inevitably out of my grasp will only breed more misery. It has only been one year, and I have spent its entirety in bitterness over my past, not realizing the value what was right in front of me before it was too late. Words cannot completely describe how extremely hard it is for me to let go of anything after I realize its value. Although I am rather introverted, there are times when I enjoy physical and emotional company, and it is so rare for me to find people who touch me so deeply. However, friends will come and go, and there is something that can be learned from every friendship.

Time and time again, I am amazed by incredible complexity and unique nature of each human mind and of its interactions……

Ultimately, I take comfort in the fact that when I have no external friendships to depend on, I still have myself, my memories, a paper, and a pen…..

At least that is what I am trying to tell myself.

In Your Dreams

You push open that turquoise green painted door,

Feeling satisfied as the handle sinks down,

You peek your head in,

A smile creeping into your face,

And you rush in,

The words flying out of your mouth

Faster than you can think.

“You were right all along,” you exclaim.

“All those things you said and wrote to me…

I figured it out.

It doesn’t matter what others think of me

And it certainly doesn’t matter

If I lose half a point for incorrect sig figs.

Mistakes are okay because

I am strong enough to bounce back

And learn from them.

I just need to have confidence in myself

Because I am me,

And no one can be me

Better than I can.

But you knew this all along.

You were right, and you tried to tell me.

I was stubborn.

I didn’t trust your words

But now I can genuinely appreciate them.”

All this comes out in one breath

And with a wide smile stretching across her face,

She says “Paheli, I am so proud of you.

You no longer crave my approval

But you will always have my support.”

You could have seen and heard her

Embracing these words,

And ceasing to consider you

A worry and a burden.

But the opportunity has been lost.

Gold Medal

My little brother used to  complain about how my parents compare him to me. They always seemed to be after him, complaining, “Why aren’t your grades higher? Why can’t you be more responsible? We never had this problem with Paheli.” Of course, in front of him, I smugly pretended I was the perfect, model student he thought I was, but sometimes I wished I could be more like him. I wished I were able to capture others’ attention as he does, make them laugh as much as he does. While people seemed to consider him a charming and self-confident young man, they passed me off as an awkward, self-conscious, twitchy nerd.

I used to be a competitive gymnast. Although I have always been shy, I loved performing. I loved how I felt as if I was flying as I tumbled across the floor. I loved the thrill of the competition. But more importantly, I loved the satisfactory feeling of standing on top of the podium, clutching my very own gold medal. My parents and my aunt and uncle used to proudly tell all their friends, “She’s a state champion,” and I would blush with pleasure. Each competition, I would bring home wearing a few gold and silver medals around my neck and dazzling videos, which I would email to all of my friends and inform them of my scores and awards. However, once I reached high school, I had more schoolork, less hours to spend in the gym, and as a result, my gymnastics became sloppy and I began to lose some of the skills I previously had. I stopped enjoying the sport because I was no longer improving, and I wasn’t the best anymore. I stopped attending my team prctices as often, and I was no longer passionate about the sport.

“It just means you’ve grown out of the sport,” My mom explained to me. “But I think you should at least finish this season. Don’t walk out in the middle of the year! I understand if you want to quit next year, because as a junior, you will not have time to juggle all of your AP class work and three hour practices. Just stick with it until this summer, alright?”

I had agreed, but reluctantly; I did not want to go through two more months of humiliating team practices, watching my teammates and old friends leap forward while I struggled with the simplest of skills. Halfway through May, I was counting the weeks until I could quit gymnastics. I was thrilled about finally being able to have a life – to be able to eat whatever junk food I wanted, and to be able to do my homework peacefully at my own desk rather than in the car on the way to practice. I surprised myself, because before, I had always expected myself to continue gymnastics until senior year of high school. There was nothing I had wanted more than to go to practice and become as good as I possibly could be. I couldn’t believe my gymnastics career was ending in such an untimely fashion. When my team was having picture day during one Friday practice, although I was exhausted from the entire school week, I decided to go to practice. I still had to be part of the team. Just for three more weeks…

“Hi, stranger!” My friend Ashley’s mom greeted me as I walked into the gym. “We haven’t seen you in a long
time! Are you competing at the Invitational Meet this Sunday?”

Shoot, I thought to myself. I had completely forgotten about the competition on Sunday. In any case, there was no way I would be able to compete. I had a huge Chemistry test coming up that week and I needed as much of the weekend as I could get to study. The competition would last for over four hours. Of course I would not be competing this weekend.

“I don’t think so,” I told Ashley’s mom. “I have a lot of work this weekend. Maybe next time.”
Soon, my teammates and I had changed into our shining, turquoise leotards are were huddled together on the gym floor. I was surrounded by glitter, combs, and the strong scent of hairspray. My teammates giggled as they combed each other’s hair and talked excitedly about the upcoming meet and the new skills they couldn’t wait to show off.
“Girls!” My coach Wes tried to yell over the chattering voices. “By a show of hands, please tell me, who is competing this Sunday?”
I looked around and watched as my teammates raised their hands. Wes looked at me expectantly. “Paheli?”
I cleared my throat. “I, um…I’m not competing this time.”
“What?” she asked incredulously. “Hold on, we need to talk about this.”
I felt a thrill of dread run through my body. I did not want to have this conversation with her – or anybody, for that matter. I was ashamed about quitting, and I knew that she would make me feel even more ashamed as she tried to convince me to compete. I had always liked and admired Wes. She was a tall gymnast, the tallest one I had ever met. I was relatively tall for a gymnast, and before I met Wes, my coaches seemed to think that I was too tall and big to succeed in the sport. Then I met Wes, who was four inches taller than I was. She believed in me and care about my gymnastics more than any other coach I had. I knew she would be disappointed that I was hiding from the sport and I did not want to face her.
I followed Wes across the gym, dragging my feet and daring to walk as slowly as I could, wishing I could disappear on the spot. Finally, she settled down on the edge of the red floor in our gym and tapped a space next to her, gesturing for me to sit down. I carefully avoided her gaze, suddenly appearing to find the texture of the floor very interesting.
“Paheli, I know you’re very busy,” she began, and I began to fiddle with my fingers. “I don’t doubt it. In fact, if anything, I don’t know enough about how busy you are. I understand that you might not enjoy competing in gymnastics as much because you don’t have time to practice. However, I don’t like the idea of you disappearing in the middle of the season. I don’t know how your family is financially, but your parents spent a lot of money on getting your routines and I would hate for it to go to waste.
I gulped, looking down. “But I can compete later, right? I don’t think I can compete at this one, but there will be more meets, right?”
Wes shook her head. “The next meet after this one is a state meet, which you have to qualify for. This is the last local meet. I know you can qualify for state as an event specialist – all you need is a minimum score of eight point five. I know you can do it; I wouldn’t be urging you to do it if I didn’t think you could. You don’t even have to compete on all four events – if you want, you can compete just on floor and go home after that.”
I hesitated. “I don’t know…”
I couldn’t get the memory of our last meet out of my head, how humiliated I had felt, being the only girl from our team who didn’t get a medal, how I had felt like crying but had to wait until I reached home because I didn’t want the others to see me.
“Think about them,” Wes interrupted my train of thoughts, gesturing to my teammates. “They need you. They score better when you’re there to support them. And they all look up to you so much. It would be wrong to desert them in the middle of the season. Even if you don’t want to do it for me, or for your parents, at least do it for those dorks in the blue leotards.”
Although at that time, I was annoyed that Wes had pressured me into competing, she assured me that later on, I would be grateful that I had finished the season on a good note. And now I can say with confidence that I am glad that I decided to compete.

When I showed up on the floor at the meet, Wes greeted me with a hug and exclaimed, “I’m so proud of you! I’ve never been happier to see a person in my life!”

Luckily for me, our first rotation was on the floor, the only event which I was competing, so I did not have to waste any time waiting. It was a different feeling than usual, sitting on the sides of the floor and cheering on my teammates. Since I was not pressuring myself to get a certain score or get a medal, I could relax and genuinely enjoy watching my friends perform. Only when my turn to compete began to creep closer, my hands started to sweat and jellyfish began swimming in my stomach – the usual symptoms for my nervousness. The worst moment, as it always was, was waiting for the judges to give me the cue to begin while they calculated the previous girl’s scores. I stood stiffly with my hands firmly at my sides, starting at the judges. My heart pounded heavily in my chest; it was so loud that it almost drowned out the sounds of cheering coming from all directions.

Somehow, Wes caught my eye. “Deep breath,” she mouthed. I nodded and gave her a tiny smile.
After what seemed like forever, one of the judges raised a white flag, and after giving them a customary salute, I walked stiffly onto the floor. The music began. After two years of performing this same floor routine at various competitions – local, state, regional, and even national meets – I had never enjoyed it more than at this moment. I flashed the judges wide smiles and gave them everything I had because I had nothing to lose. This would be possibly my last competition ever. And more importantly, I was not there for myself, to get a medal or to qualify for state. I was there for my teammates.
Finally, I finished my routine, saluted to the judges, and bounced over to my teammates. After they all said, “Good job!” and gave me high-fives, Wes told me, “Paheli, your routine was beautiful. If I didn’t know that you haven’t been training as much this year, I wouldn’t have been able to guess by watching you. You perform as well as anyone who has been coming to practice every day.”
I smiled and thanked her and then looked over at the scoreboard, anticipating. After several minutes, my score flashed in ominous, red numbers: 8.600. It was certainly not my best score. Needless to say, I did not get a gold medal for my performance at the meet. But at that moment, I felt that I was better than I had ever been.
I remember how the protagonist of Joyce Carol Oates’ Expensive People, Richard Everett, chose to retake his IQ test because his mother was disappointed with his initial score. His entire self-worth was based not on what he thought of himself, but based on his mother’s evaluation of him and his performance. While it is easy to fall into the trap of trying to meet others expectations, ultimately, what others think is of little importance. We will never be perfect, and others will always manage to find something or the other that is wrong with us. Recalling the experience of the last invitational meet of my gymnastics season, I have come to realize that I can’t control what others think of me, and I can’t waste me efforts trying to please everyone. More importantly, no one, not even judges, can tell me how good I am – only I have the power to decide that.

On College Stress and Sleep Deprivation

Bright colors,
Warm smiles,
And love of learning.

There are all the shades of my past
For the present is stress,
Lack of sleep,
Dark circles stained under my eyes,
Eternal wrinkles across my forehead
I am wounded, broken, eaten alive
For life has chewed me up
And spit me back out

Why does love of learning,
Love of knowledge,
Love of life diminish
As age, maturity, and experience grow?

We were once filled with joy and excitement
Over the smallest of things
Scrambling to soak up new information
And now we scramble listlessly
To memorize,
Cram our brains
And what will we get out of it?
Just numbers,
Maybe power, reputation,
But at what price?
What happens
When the information in our brains
Threatens to overflow
As the fuel to succeed
Begins to burn out?

Born For School

I have always wanted to become a teacher. When I was a child, I used to play school with my little brother and a group of stuffed animals. I would take on the role of the teacher, hoping to impart the nuggets … Continue reading