Tuesday, August 1, 2017

I'm About to Reflect like a Mirror


Just a disclaimer: the process before this trip wasn't something too different for me since I had been through it before, so there won't be as much reflecting of that time.

When I first walked into the interview room, I remember clicking immediately with Lindsay. I was hoping we both would make it through this round, but little did I know, the two of us would come out as sisters/married lesbians. I was very nervous. I hadn't prepared nearly as much as I had last year. I had seen how much fun Ernie had when she was in Chicago and I didn't want to let go of this opportunity.

I was overjoyed when I learned that I had made it. Another year of this life-changing opportunity? How lucky did I have to be? It was too good to be real.

Some things never change.
I will always struggle with my luggage.
Before long, it was time for us to board the plane to Chicago. To be completely honest, my exact thoughts were something like, "I've fared through Vanderbilt as a shy, insecure girl dealing with a huge culture shock. Whatever happens here must end up being better than what I felt back there.” This made me feel a little more comfortable and excited for the program to start.

The very first weekend of the program, I could tell I was going to have the best time of my life. We were already making plans, and going on adventures to the beach. I couldn't wait for all of us to get even closer and meet new people.

However, the exact opposite happened when class started. This challenge I had taken up was proving to be nothing like I expected. The same was going for Michelle, and when she took up the courage to switch into a class she was more interested in, the idea wormed into me too. Luckily, I was mostly just borrowing Ryan's book so there wouldn't be a large financial loss if I switched.

But, I still didn't know what to do. I was having continuous mental breakdowns because I hated every second of work I was doing. I thank all my friends, Don, and Mom for taking care of me and leading me down the right path. I thank them for telling me something that I've never been told before: your mental health DOES matter. And I thank them for giving me the courage to actually switch classes and accept that I'm not cut out for this one.
When we basically just first met

This experience has taught me one of the biggest lessons in my life. It taught me to accept and face my flaws instead of being defensive and trying to cover them up. It has taught me to love myself including my flaws, because as Don said, "No one can be cut out for everything." (Or at least I'm pretty sure he said something like that).

This has been something I've always struggled with. I know the struggle will never be over, but at least I know that it has improved a great amount. Embracing my flaws has allowed me to become more confident about who I am and my beliefs against what's wrong. It's harder to simply show through text what I exactly mean, but I hope to paint something in your mind by the following example:

Squad
Since the beginning of this year, I realized I may be a romantic asexual. (I won't be going into what that means here, because if you don't know, maybe looking it up could give you more insight into the asexual community that is many times looked over). I simply pushed over the thought, convincing myself that my sexuality isn't a part of my identity. After learning to accept myself and becoming more confident over the course of this trip, I've learned to come to terms with who I am. I can proudly walk around, telling my peers I'm ace. I can proudly walk around without being afraid of what people think of me. I can proudly walk around simply being who I am, not what I think others want me to be.

Outside of that, I got a pretty good insight into what college life is like. I mean, we had ear piercings and hair dying happening in our dorms. That is some real college stuff.
  
Squad cont.
But, in all seriousness, I learned how to manage my time and make the most out of it. For many, it may be a lack of time management that I chose to socialize and then stay up all night doing work, but to me it was making the most out of it. Coming from an area full of immigrants whose children are trying to become first-generation college students, where else can I experience being friends with people who are the richest in their countries and can afford to give out free Uber rides? When else can I spend time with these people who I can't see after three weeks? To me, these three weeks were too precious to have to compromise anything that meant a lot to me. I was relatively accustomed to having little sleep, so I knew I had to put that advantage to its proper use. I decided I would put 100% effort into my class and social life because both aspects cannot be found back home. That decision may have made my life a lot harder than some of my peers, but I felt it as a constructive challenge that taught me how to tackle stressful situations with more ease. 

These changes in me may seem to be small, but these small things add up, and the effects can be noticeable (or rather, noticeable now that I am no longer sick and am finally functional). Just like last year, I came back feeling a difference. And it's the best difference I've felt in a while.

So thank you to Don, Ms.Kronenberg, the panelists who thought I was capable enough to handle this opportunity, Mom, and my cohort, for making this a life-changing experience that I will never forget. The lessons from these past two summers are truly ones that I will never let go of throughout my life.

(P.S: I'm still sorry about posting my blogs at 3 AM. At least I got to socialize, and finish all my homework and make-up work, and still do the blog...? Please forgive me <3 )


A different lesson learned from both years...
...but I'm still the shortest in the group hug circle


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