Growing Pains

My brother always used to tell me that we grow the most when we’re stretched to our limits. But if a week full of midterms, no sleep, and being really sick just after finishing a similar week also filled with midterms and no sleep is called “growing,” then I want no part of it.

I’ve been sick all week, so today I went to student health and was diagnosed with tonsillitis: a fancy word for being dizzy, sick to your stomach, having a sore throat, an awful headache, and no appetite. But it was actually kind of nice – going to the health center - because the doctors actually cared about me: something I kind of relish in when my professors won’t let me reschedule big tests – 100 degree fever or no.

Then when I got back to my dorm, and my roommate kindly welcomed me, “So where’ve you been?”

“Student Health. I had like three doctors look at me, and they prescribed penicillin for me and they sai-- ”

“So are you contagious?” No. Of course I’m not contagious. And I’m sorry I didn’t think to mention that first.

It’s so hard.

It’s so hard when professors and roommates treat me like I’m a robot – like it’s my own fault I’m sick. Sometimes I can be okay with humans forgetting that they themselves are human, but I’m not okay with humans forgetting that others are human. Then I think about how my grades are naturally going to fall, and that my Dad will then probably give me another talk on how I don’t belong here – that maybe I should go to a less prestigious university. It’s like a downwards spiral where I expect the worst and then the worst of the worst.

Ah, maybe I need to love myself more. But I feel like I can’t help me, I feel like I need others to help me. I guess I thought that if I loved everyone, they’d love me back, so I wouldn’t have to worry about loving me myself. But even so, I’d rather love all people and have them disappoint me, than to fill myself with pure hate for anybody. Hate only destroys the holder of it, and while love can also destroy its owner, there’s also a slight chance that it could complete and fulfill instead.

So I still love my roommate, I still love my Dad, and I still respect my professors. Maybe that’s silly – to love the people who hurt you – but then, no one can truly hurt you unless you love them. And loving someone never really was love if you don’t love them during the tough times.

My brother, he always used to tell me that we grow the most when we’re stretched to our limits. He never told me it was fun – never even promised it was worth it.

But I promise myself it will be worth it.

{comments always appreciated :) }


Running out in the Blue

Out of the blue, five years ago, someone struck up a conversation with me asking, “So, would you rather live in the city or the country?” Without thinking, I immediately exclaimed, “The country!” Of course, maybe my passion for horses had something to do with that, but perhaps there was more . . .

Today I’m in love with the city: how the block you live on is like one big family, how you can go out to eat at 3a.m. without seeming bizarre, how there’s always a vivacious party to go to, how you don’t need a car. Then there’s the lights. The feeling of life. The architecture. The history. It’s all completely beautiful and overwhelming at once.

But then there’s the country with the painted sunsets and the trees’ dark silhouettes made of black lace. There's the trickling creek that has neither an end nor a beginning, the birds that sing you gentle lullabies and the wind that never stops lapping at your hair. There's the fragrance of flowers mixed with a sky that’s bigger than all the oceans sewed together which flaunts its twinkling stars at night. There’s the strong personality that equals the city’s diversity – and you don’t have to go to the gym for exercise.

And I’ve found that no matter how deeply I am enamored by the city, it could never come close to the country. For the county, it takes our breath away – no, it takes our being away. It makes us one with nature and weaves us into its painting. Of course, the city can steal our breath with its magnificence too.


We can find out how a city was built - how it was created - if we want. We could study the architecture, we could learn the city's history. Whereas with the country, we can’t. Sure, we can learn the techniques of a painting locked in a museum, but we can’t know how the inspiration of this mere copy was created. We can’t know why trees were made with broad leaves to shade us, or why birds are the ones that fly. The country is wrapped around baffling puzzles and questions of existence.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, in the city, we usually run inside a gym, but in the country, we run inside a dazzling mystery that changes everyday.

(would love to know your thoughts!)


Sue His Side

I could never understand it, but that’s why I tried to understand it. I mean, it’s natural to strive for life, right? It’s natural to fear - to avoid - the unknown. And yet, some would rather brave the unknown than the known, because there’s something not right with the known, something gone wrong. In fact, 83 times a day in the U. S., once every 17 minutes it happens: suicide.

I won’t pretend to be an expert on suicide, but I do find it interesting that when people commit suicide, it’s after they commit suicide, that others truly take notice of them. Whereas people need to be noticed, maybe even want to be noticed, before they kill themselves. They talk about it, plan for it, give away things, and say good-bye like it’s for the last time. And yet, when people do that, do we really take them seriously – offer to help?

Like with Michael Jackson, not that he committed suicide, but before he died, people in general thought he was a weird person – a success gone wrong. He was someone who looked weird and acted strange. And then, when he died, everyone suddenly started buying and playing his music. They started talking about how great he was, how he influenced culture. People forgot about his faults, and only remembered his greatness. Someone who no one had a passion for was suddenly praised and loved . . . once he was dead.

So why can’t we do that when the person is alive? Why can’t we praise and love them when they can hear us? Why can’t we forgive them while they’re alive? We need to realize what we could lose before we loose it. We need to tell the people we care about that we care for them. We need to tell the people we admire that we admire them. We need to tell the people we love that we love them.

Because it might make a difference - it might save a life . . . it might save our life.

(let me know what you think!)


The Storyteller

Every person has a story. In fact, those are usually the best stories: our own. We can even look to great literature and see that the books held in highest esteem are often reflected on the author’s own life, like Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” or Joyce’s “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.” Maybe we like to pretend – perhaps even the great authors like to pretend - that the best stories we imagine and write are escapes from our own lives, but they aren’t. Our life is always our inspiration, is always our influence, because that is what we know best. For it is not someone else’s story or life that teaches us to express loving and dying, but our own.

So this is my story.

I was homeschooled. In a way, that one sentence explains everything. People always ask me how homeschooling was, and I always reply that it depends on your parents: it’s true.

My first disappointment with homeschooling came when I was about six. I knew I was going to be a ballerina when I grew up. I was practically made to wear pink tutus and dance everyday. Unfortunately, my parents didn't share the same view, and decided I should quit ballet after a year because it took too much time away from homeschooling.

Then I started up soccer and, consequently, I fell in love with it. I liked getting out of the house, being a part of a team, and just running with the ball at my feet. It’s kind of hard to explain how much passion you can have for something that isn’t a person, but to me, soccer was more than just a hobby. However, after a few years, I had to quit that too.

Then things became worse. My parents would have my younger sister and I work on our studies throughout our weekends and summers. I would be threatened that if I didn’t do my schoolwork, I couldn’t have dinner. I couldn’t lock my door, or it might be removed, and I couldn’t go to the library because I might check out a bad book. Plus, my Dad would unfortunately often yell at me when he was upset about anything, because I was the only person in the family who would stand up to him.

But the worst part was when I became serious about ice-skating. I had started it even before ballet, and I had a natural talent in it. My teachers wanted me to compete, and as for me, there wasn’t anything I liked better than the sound of ice scraping beneath my feet - it was the closest thing to flying for me. I bought professional ice-skates and practiced for hours each week – plus it was the only time I saw my friends and had a break from studies. But then, my parents decided that that had to go too, and that broke my heart in a way.

I was suddenly stuck in the house for weeks on end and I realized that my parents had taken away everything from me that had actually kept me working on my studies: my friends, my passions, even my cd player. They couldn’t take anything more away from me, and studying more wasn’t working. So, I quit. I stopped studying, I stopped eating as much, I stopped looking forward to the next day.

After a while, my Mom became worried about me and decided to enroll me into my community college and signed me up for taekwondo. And, well, I came alive again. I got my black belt, and I received several awards at college for my almost 4.0 GPA and my involvement in social live. I became a sort of social butterfly, and was invited into top societies and clubs.

Then, earlier this year, I ran into more trouble, which is why I took a break from this blog. I wanted to transfer to a better school, and my advisor told me that I shouldn’t have a problem doing so – in fact, since I had been homeschooled, I didn’t even need to take the GED (to get a high school diploma) or the SATs. But then, a month later, he changed his mind. So suddenly, I had to take the next SAT available with two weeks to prepare. I had to take the GED too, and with the SAT and five college classes, I had only the night before to study. But I ended up receiving above average grades on the SAT, and on the GED, I received extremely high grades even though I had never finished 9th grade.

Then I was left with about a week to write my college essays, when most people have months, and there was a chance I might not make the deadlines. However, in the end, before I was even accepted, I actually received an e-mail from an admission’s office with praise for my essay, which is apparently unheard of. In the end, I decided to go to University of Virginia. It kind of amazes me that I went from practically no high school education and some community college, to going to one of the top national universities and just about the best public university in the country.

Of course the hardest part, has been forgiving my parents. They taught me so much: not only that the people you love are the ones who can hurt you the most, but also that the people you truly love, you can never completely hate. And I love them, and I know they love me, and perhaps that’s all I need to know to forgive them in the end.

So maybe I’m just naturally smart and lucky. Maybe those years of homeschooling really did prove their worth. But I know that’s not it – it’s that I chose what I wanted and went for it. There wasn’t a day when I didn’t want to give up, but I realized that I shouldn’t let my situation determine my life. Sometimes we just have to realize what we want and go after it and get it because we might not get another chance. And, more importantly, we’ve got to be so stubborn that people’s opinions don’t sway us – and realize that for every will there really is a way.

So this is my story, told to you. Because, after all, if a story isn't told, then it ceases to exist.

(feel free to comment!)