puzzle piece, etc.

they got this puzzle with over 1700 pieces

they start with the corners and edges

even though they’re on the outside

they’re not cast aside,

they’re necessary

 

scattered across the table are the remaining pieces

sorted based on color, shape,

and interesting traits,

separate from the whole

but together

 

the pieces slowly begin to come together

the puzzle is almost complete.

they all fit so neatly in the board

except one. they try to jam it in

it won’t fit.

 

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My BIO 61 Class Ruined My Social Experience: An Exposé

This blog is starting to become way too meta and heavily oriented towards one topic, so perhaps in a few days I’m due for another weirdo, rant piece on my qualms with “pop science” or something…

On the other hand, this is my blog. Piss off. (No wait! Don’t leave! I didn’t mean it!)

Anyway, back to the topic the title of this piece suggests. As you probably already know quite well, my adjustment to college is going terribly. Everything I feared for the past few months before coming here is slowly starting to come true. I’ve started stress eating which is also not helpful when your dining hall provides 99% of its food in the form of some type of carb, which you spent the weeks leading up to college avoiding in order to lose weight. I spent almost the entirety of Saturday night and Sunday in my room working on homework, not attending social events and parties, because (and here’s the kicker) I have no friends to actually go with me. RIP. Everywhere I look, people have their cliques, their squads, and their fams (Side-note: I feel so outdated using those terms here. I feel like a geezer watching all the youngins). I still go to meals by myself and while I’m trying to ignore my perennial sense of loneliness, I often lose myself in deep introspection, complete with my new, poser-intellectual, wide-rimmed glasses. During today’s reflection, I kept thinking about how I’m sitting in the back by myself, while I would inevitably have to walk past several tables of people I’d already introduced myself to, but don’t make any effort to wave or say hi to me because I’m closed off like I’m surrounded by some concrete wall with spikes on top and secret lasers surrounding it. These thoughts are becoming far too common, but today I realized something:

Image result for kylie jenner realizing things

Me, at dinner, by myself, in deep thought while eating macaroni and cheese (colorized, 2017)

I spend a lot of time trying to reason out why I haven’t made any substantial friends. I try to come up with some overarching theory that would explain why I can’t talk to people normally or why people don’t want to sit down and hang with me at any given hour of the night. Once I realized this, I instantly blamed my BIO 61 professor, Steven Block (btw, after extensively googling him, he is super cool and accomplished, check him out), who basically gave us some videos and papers that explained how math was basically everywhere and could explain everything. Now, I wasn’t necessarily looking for a mathematical explanation to my social deprivation, but I was looking for a scientific one essentially. I treated the initial phase like a scientific process. I figured that once I introduce myself to someone, the natural steps would fall into place and BOOM! — there you go, I’d have lifelong friends. Turns out, there is no scientific process to finding friends, and there is no way to diagnose anything I’m doing wrong as some sort of theoretical “problem” that can be easily fixed. There is no simple prescription to solve this problem that only requires one small fix to make everything normal.

But maybe that’s what I want. Maybe I’ve been trying to figure out what this theoretical problem is so that I can convince myself that the problem is external to my own personality. I don’t want to come to terms with the fact that I am the sole, inherent cause for my own social problems, but even worse,  I don’t want to come to terms with the fact that I have no idea how to end it. The endless mind games I play with myself in order to figure out how to just make one person seem genuinely interested in me has led to an even more seemingly endless vortex of self-pity and misery. I’m becoming the cause of my own terrible adjustment, and my life is slowly reverting back to high school, except even worse because I can’t even spend time with friends to pretend like my life is okay.

College is real life, my friends. And it’s showing me in the worst way possible.

Lessons in Identifying Fuckboys (And Realizing That They’re Not And You’re Just Really Cynical)

So to be clear, I 100% believe in the concept of fuckboys, however, I also believe in the fact that my social ineptitude has bred a cynicism that distorts my social world view, like a lot. If you recall my earlier post about me not believing that my life could ever be like the typical high school/college movie love scenes? Turns out it’s actually very common and I apparently just have a giant stick up my butt from being a cynical hard-ass all the time. ANYWAY, to my story!

I don’t think I’ve shared too many stories on this blog (or much of anything really, sorry!), but sometimes things happen in life that make you think “Wow, this would be really great, I should tell my friends about this” or “Wow, this would be a great plot point in a sitcom”. Recently, I’ve had many of those moments, and I always mean to blog about them, but I never have the chance. Thankfully, I’m a “good college student” who gets her work done early and has no social life so she doesn’t even have parties or alcohols to be distracted by, SCORE! (insert sarcasm here cuz the only thing keeping life from sucking 100% is the fact that I have all my chem work done) But nevertheless, I’ve finally found the space in my day to blog for one of my legendary (and when I mean legendary, I mean rambling and circuitous) stories. So here it goes, the story of me and the FroSoCo fuckboy!

So on a nice sunny day in Stanford, California, September 19th to be exact, I moved into my dorm in Freshman-Sophomore College, stylized FroSoCo, at Stanford University. Now, I vaguely knew the names of roughly 50-60 people that would be living in FroSoCo through a Facebook Messenger group, but many still remained a mystery to me and even their names weren’t much to go by. So that day, I’m anxious to meet all the new people in FroSoCo, and since we were a bit isolated from all the other freshman dorms on campus, I expected the majority of the people I would befriend would be from there (see previous post to see why I was hilariously wrong). The first person I officially met™ was my roommate who, for only the purpose of further explanation of future events, is blonde, super nice, outgoing, and all-around amazing. So I’m pumped because I had spent the last month or so dreading that my roommate would be a weirdo homebody that wouldn’t talk to me or do anything, etc. (basically me rn so I’m a huge hypocrite). Anyway, fast forward to the time when all of FroSoCo convenes to say our official “goodbye” to our parents. I’m standing with my roommate as well as another floormate who, only for the purposes of the next event, was a guy who is very muscular. As the parents finish their goodbyes and we are waiting to be released to dinner, a very familiar blond boy I recognized from the Facebook messenger group darts toward our small group. He immediately introduces himself to both my roommate and my floormate, but noticeably to me, does not attempt to learn my name. He then talks up to the aforementioned floormate about working out and swimming, etc. but then directs his attention to my roommate. He asks to the group to exchange numbers, but once we all take out our phones and pass them over, as soon as he gets my roommates number, his phone goes away instantly. It was this moment that I no longer referred to him by his actual name in my head. He would forever be known as the FroSoCo fuckboy. And do not think I’m being hard on said fuckboy. He had several chances to redeem himself. Let me elaborate.

Several times I’ve found myself in the same room, same group as this guy, yet he exhibits the same telltale behavior. It’s almost mind-boggling how he can maneuver through a large crowded group of people and only engage with those he finds attractive. To me, he seems predatory and self-interested, but to the girls he finds attractive, it’s nothing. It’s the first day and everyone’s introducing themselves to everyone. But I’ve seen this guy’s pattern. Days of careful, unintended observation (I swear I didn’t follow this guy, he was literally just everywhere I was and it was lowkey annoying) reaffirmed my conclusion…until today.

So today, I decided to go to my first Chem optional “outreach” session, where basically we just do some extra problems from lecture. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have gone because I left realizing how much I underestimate my own abilities, or at least my abilities to properly use significant figures and understand 1 amu = 1 g/mol. Anyway, I walk into the lecture room and, because I’m late, sit at the nearest table with open seats in the front. There are two girls there who I thought were athletes (which is an important indicator because all athletes at Stanford literally look like Aphrodite or Adonis). Nevertheless, I was a bit nervous because the last time I sat with two athlete girls, they kinda ignored my presence, but these ones were nicer. I introduce myself and go to pick up a handout after setting my stuff down, but as soon as I get up out of my chair, none other than the fuckboy himself swoops in and chats up the other girls at my table, popping a squat at the last seat of the four person table. Yikes.

At first, I expect this experience to proceed as the past several have. He introduces himself in a kind of serial predatory way, I, of course, am ignored, and he somehow manages to collect their numbers or something, and that’s how it started. However, I soon remembered that I had to labor through witnessing this, while also sitting right across from him, but also having to answer the packet of chem problems and collaborate. Now, I made my way through these problems relatively quickly, as I mentioned above, but as I struggled to make my own voice heard as I was trying to correct one of the two girls’ wrong answers or give my input on how to solve a problem, he actually began to address me and look me in the eye in order to ask for help on problems. It was mind-boggling to me, and it reminded me how ridiculous I was being. Yeah, he was kind of a fuckboy, don’t get me wrong there, but for the first time, he sounded like and seemed like a normal college boy, not a creepy predator future-frat-reject. After he addressed me for the first time, I had no problem speaking to him as if he were anyone else I would be working on problems with (which does not mean comfortably, but rather I’d be able to pipe up after several seconds of hesitation), and I began to rethink whether it was ever right to label him a fuckboy in the beginning (but then I saw him do his routine later in the distance, so the label sticks).

Now, I’m not remotely interested in FroSoCo fuckboy or what his opinion of me is, despite the fact that I’ve written a diatribe on how disturbing I find his behavior and how I may have judged him a bit too much, but at the end of it all, I reached two conclusions. 1) I think it’s pretty interesting how I was able to change my perception of someone after actually meeting them legitimately, and 2) I think it’s pretty poetic and kind of my constant fate, to not ever be noticed for my looks (I’m literally invisible people, what gives. People who look like troll monsters deserve appreciation too!), but rather for my brains/ability.

Fascinating stuff, amirite? No? Yeah, I figured, but I really needed to post more.

 

Rusty Nail Syndrome: My Own Personal Sequel To The Famed “Stanford Duck Syndrome”

It goes to be said that I miss my friends. A. LOT. One of my best friends and I used to say that we could reach other’s minds. We could complete each other’s sentences and say the exact same thing at the exact same time. It’s a truly astonishing phenomenon that not even 2500 miles of distance has been able to break so far. However, the fact remains that I’m still 2500 miles away, at Stanford. But get this, here I can do something just as good — I can read people’s faces!

Yeah, whenever I first meet someone, I can tell, by the glazed look in their eye and their impatient desire to talk to someone else, that I’m not interesting enough. Thus I define Rusty Nail Syndrome: The condition where you feel you’re the least interesting option in the room, socially speaking.

My first week at Stanford has been quite interesting. Sometimes I think I’m adjusting better than I expected. I’m super on top of my work which is new to me, my roommate is super nice and very cool, and I’ve gotten to know some of the people on my floor to a reasonable point. But then most of the time, I feel like I’m alone all of the time. I don’t have anyone to go eat with at meals, despite trying my best to not be too shy. Stanford claims to have this amazing process where they pair us with our perfect roommate, and even though I love my roommate, I feel like she got the short end of the stick. It’s hard to explain how I arrived at the conclusion that I’m just not interesting enough, but concluding my third day of classes, I’ve observed that whenever a large group forms as everyone introduces themselves, a natural barrier forms around me and everyone else. The conversation almost seems to naturally flow away from me no matter what the size of the group was. In groups of three, I’m easily the third wheel and left to the side, as the two remaining people quickly become fast friends. In groups of seven, ten, or even fifteen, I’m forgotten input wise and every contribution I offer to any conversation is spoken over or ignored. There are few times in my life where I’ve had to make new friends entirely from scratch. The closest experience I had to this was last summer at a high school summer research experience academy, but that was only 8 people, and I only had to mentally prepare to include myself as part of that 8. We were all very close and it naturally got easier. I don’t get that luxury here at Stanford. I’m on the periphery of what I describe as two major classifications of students that I’ve seen here. On the one hand, you have what many would describe as the stereotypical “nerd” (no shame, this is Nerd Nation after all), and on the other hand, you have people who are so effortlessly able to socialize while also getting involved with sex and alcohol like they’ve been experienced with it for years (they may well be tbh) but they also somehow managed to do that and their schoolwork as well. I don’t fit the first role very well, but I’m also just not interested in the latter. Increasingly, I feel as if my personality and identity aren’t very welcome here at Stanford. I can feel a stigma against people like me who choose to abstain from sex and stay sober among some of the people I’ve met at first that seemed really cool, which makes this adjustment harder. I’m agnostic (even though I never talk about it so if you know me outside of this blogosphere, surprise, I’ve been agnostic since the 5th grade), so it’s not like I have some religious exemption to it all, and I don’t even look negatively towards people who choose to engage in sex and drink alcohol. I made my decision based on an understanding of my own maturity, health, and history. Is it time to turn away from a decision I made to myself? I’m not even sure what feels right and where I fit in, but there seems to be no community where I feel like I did with my old friends. Even when I think I’m connecting with other people, they bring up their friends from back home and I’m constantly reminded that I can never compare. At the same time, I long for my old friends who ridiculed me playfully and who I could talk about anything with, my old friends who understood the decisions I made regarding sex and alcohol because they largely felt the same way. Being stripped away from my echo chamber of a social circle hasn’t proven easy, and it’s definitely not something that I expected to be so hard in the first place. I thought there would be so many more people like me here at Stanford, but, for the first time in my life, I’ve actually felt like a minority — which is astonishing because I was one of a handful of black students in my high school, and one of a small few in my AP and honors classes. I just yearn to find friendship like I did before. The kind of snarky friendship that was built on an understanding for academic achievement, but also pure fun that was born just from being around each other. The kind of friendship where I didn’t have to question my personal life choices in order to fit in better. The kind of friendship where I could read their minds and not their faces. The kind of friendship where I didn’t feel like a placeholder for someone before they found people they’re more interested in.

I really miss my old friends. I just can’t fit in here.

Noam Chomsky, I Adore You

I killed an ant stuck in a crevice in my alarm clock this morning. I believe it was a metaphor for our global order, let me explain.

Anyway, I finally found the answer to my prayers, a man who has most profoundly influenced my own political and social viewpoints on the world. Obviously, by the title you could tell it was the legend himself, Noam Chomsky, the only person who could make me regret and actually want to go to MIT, until I remembered the much more extensive list of reasons why I wouldn’t set foot on the campus in the first place.

 

noamchomsky

The most wonderfully brilliant bastion of hope this world has ever given us…

 

Anyone who knows of this guy, may probably be thinking right now… “So she considers herself a socialist now, big whoop. Doesn’t every kid going off to college come out as an ultra-liberal?”. And to that, I say, well you may be right, but not quite and I’ve always been very liberal so I have no idea what you’re talking about “suddenly becoming” one. To make things clear, I’ve always been skeptical of anything I read that has ties to politics. Behind every article, there is someone with a political perspective that they hope to win over all the others, and the concept of that in its essence is not necessarily a bad thing. What’s frightening is the propaganda and lies spread that convinces people that any means can justify a particular end, but we can’t even define what this end is or whether it’s good for us or not. Back to Noam Chomsky, I recently picked up a few of his books a couple weeks ago on a trip to Barnes and Noble where my mother and I were trying to entice my little sister to read more… she’s allergic to books apparently. Anyway, I’m a huge classics-turned-linguistics nerd and so naturally I go into the section that houses their like 10 linguistics books and I pluck them from the shelves, seeing that my buddy Noam makes up about 50% of the section. Not satisfied with the amount of books in my basket, I go over to the international current affairs section because I thought it was high time that I know more about the geopolitical mess we have on our hands at the current moment.  Now the, international affairs section is much more “well-endowed” than the linguistics section so as an amateur, I try and look for anything familiar to pique my interest (mind you I’m not a total novice to this stuff as a debater for four years, but I personally believe that a lot of debaters, minus extempers, kinda have tunnel vision when it comes to what’s going on with the world, due to the nature of their events). Of course, my favorite linguist also just so happens to be a prolific social critic, and it was love at first sight, but not quite.

So throughout my senior year, I didn’t really have much of a chance to read many books for pleasure, given we were pretty much always reading different books for English anyway. Also, I’m a lazy senior so that too. The one book I picked by Noam Chomsky from this section, “Profit Over People”, was my personal challenge. I needed to finish this book within a short period of time to get back into the swing of reading. Thankfully, I actually accomplished my goal, but what I got from the book was so much more than a check on my personal summer bucket list.

Essentially, the point of the book was to argue about the doctrines and the development of a pro-corporate system of economic and political policies that restrict the public arena and support private power, while also highlighting the harmful effects of policies that are prescribed to poor countries from institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization and the World Bank. He rails against neoliberalism in its entirety and strongly criticizes the neoliberal policies made by former President Bill Clinton, a man who I’d never criticized that harshly before, among other leaders. Chomsky enlightened me to how much our government’s policies work against the interests of the common people and how pervasively the propaganda that gets us to go along with their plans extends. The most eye-opening parts of the novel for me concerned our foreign policy in Latin America and how far the United States’ government is willing to go in order to protect their profit interests, effectively destroying the stability of countries in order to maintain the cash flow. Mind you, this book was written pre-2007 housing market crisis and Wall Street bailout, and Noam Chomsky is still very much vehemently opposed to the likes of Donald Trump and his reckless political scheme.

happy bill

How I felt about Bill Clinton BEFORE reading Chomsky…

sad bill

…and after

There was little, if anything that I disagreed with in this book, but unexpectedly, reading this book also made me question my own beliefs. I didn’t just read Noam Chomsky and 100% devote myself to his philosophy, nor did I discount everything he said. Rather I realized that while I agreed with many of the things he was saying, I also began to reflect for myself the pros and cons of so many decisions our global society makes and I know it’s not so easy, and it’s kind of sickening to realize how hard it is to rid ourselves of the deeply embedded “corruption” and debauchery that’s rooted in countless international and domestically based organizations. Who is going to the represent the people, for the benefit of the people? It’s a depressing thought to think about as I’m going into the real world, but it’s also hopeful to know that I’m not alone and that maybe, I can empower, and be empowered, to change the status quo.

Or maybe I’m just too young and naïve to understand how the world works, and in any quest for power and success, I too will have the wake-up call that I must squash all people inferior to me on such a quest.

Kind of like that ant on my alarm clock.

What the &#&^*! Is College Anyway?!

 

You know, the shitstorm that was the college application cycle was a lot of things, but you know what it was really good at? Blinding us from the reality that college is real. It isn’t just this arbitrary concept that we were all aspiring towards like a trophy. No sirree, we don’t even the tiniest ounce of what shit we’re walking straight into.

Between you and me, there’s a lot of things that I love about becoming a “college student” and a lot of things I haaattteee. For one thing, I hate the fact that the name of my school overtakes me whenever people ask where I’m going. As soon as the word “Stanford” (Surprise, for those that read one of my earlier posts!!!) fleetingly slips out of my mouth, I know exactly the stock responses about to be uttered and the precise thoughts subsequently racing through their minds. To people around my age, I get everything from #1) misplaced “awe” as their worship of the school itself is projected onto me as the conversations quickly shift from being centered around my personal education, to the ACT score I needed to get in or the acceptance rate for the regular decision round or #2) people who, despite never speaking to me about college before, have already decided that I’m conceited and belittle the school I’ve chosen as my future alma mater since they assume I chose it for name alone, and not the fact that they have both amazing biology and computer science programs with a flexible curriculum (not as restrictive as Columbia, not as loose as Brown) and much more laid-back and less cutthroat environments than my other options. Basically, the minute people find out where I’m going, it’s like I’ve lost control of how people perceive me, but even worse, every time I talk about Stanford, I still feel sick in my stomach. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t get regret my choice whatsoever, and I’d probably feel the same way if I had chosen a lot of my other options, but the problem remains that I still harbor unresolved guilt over the whole matter, but also for the first time, I worry that my choice in college may have been affected by my internal need to always prove to people that I’m capable (I blame 3.5 years of being disregarded and underestimated by #debateboyz for that one), but also that the problem is simply covered up, not erased by the fact that I’m going to a big-name hotshot school, which leads me to my next thought…

College is unbelievable, but the process reads like an Agatha Christie novel.. It doesn’t help that I still have no tangible idea of what my schedule could look like for next year, who my roommate will be, or where I’ll even be living. Maybe it’s my insane jealousy and anxiety that 99.9% of all of my friends are on the semester system (make that 100%), but it really sucks being exactly two months away from move-in day and have no idea how you’ll get your belongings on campus. It’s not that I don’t have the resources to figure this stuff out, but it’s still too surreal, and it probably won’t feel real until I get there, but it’s still too far away to grasp.

Speaking of my soon-to-abandon-me friends. I’m afraid of how much, or more precisely how little, I’ll still keep in contact with them. I didn’t have that many friends in school to begin with. I made my way by being civil and nice, but I was never warm enough to a lot of people and I’m just the girl “people knew in high school”. Those people, the ones who were either friends with me by association or convenience, aren’t the ones I’m worried about. I’ve made my amends with the fact that I wasn’t the most likable person in school, and part of it was my fault. Sometimes, whenever I think I’m getting too close to someone, I feel as if I must be a nuisance and sometimes I back off, which inevitably leads to the friendship deteriorating into oblivion. But that’s beside the point for now, I’m worried about the people I consider “my best friends”, in the loose definition of the word I know today. When I was younger, I had one or two “best friends”, but the difference between them and the friends I have today, is that we only had each other. We did everything together because we were all each of us had, but it’s much different now. Unfortunately, we’re all less close now, precisely because we no longer had JUST each other, leading to my new friends of today. While we’re still close and I wouldn’t want to lose contact with them, I’m afraid the distance will hurt our relationships more than I can even imagine. My friends are so much better at making friends than I am, to the point where I wonder how people even become friends with me in the first place. I’m awkward, shy, cynical, spineless, and so much more, but not qualities you look for in a buddy to join to catch a movie or go on a walk through the park. And as they find people who could replace me in a heartbeat, I’ll be left thousands of miles away, in an unfamiliar place, by myself, trying to figure out how to initiate conversation or appear more approachable. Furthermore, one of my best friends I’ve made in high school, has become much more distant to the point where we haven’t talked in weeks, and I have no idea what initiated the tension. Their disappearance in my life hurts most precisely because I could feel it a little bit earlier in the year, but couldn’t understand it and did nothing to rectify it. And now, I have no idea how to reconcile what we’ve lost, and worry I’ve just lost a dear friend forever. I desperately don’t want the future to keep taking the friends I have now away. Besides, who’s going to tell the abundant embarrassing stories about me at my future wedding?

And to top off my mini-howling on all things relating to the never-ending anxiety that is college life, is the number-one thing I’m there for, my studies. What I do from here on out has the potential to define my entire life. Getting a B in a class derails my chance at getting into a top-notch medical school. Not securing a good summer internship ruins my shot at having a successful career in tech or software engineering. I already feel like I’m coming in from behind, and I desperately want to have everything laid out for me in a simple four-year plan, but I know, especially from my experience in high school., that I will never get anything in life that easily. I’ve tried the past few weeks to improve myself, given my rocky senior year and depression diagnosis that I don’t completely understand and I can tell my mom either wants to ignore or doesn’t have the time to take care of, since I’m so used to handling my own problems aside from matters of money or life-or-death situations. Look at any college meme page and it’s littered with light-hearted jokes that poke fun at the depressed culture of students over finals weeks and problem sets and not doing well enough, but what if I fall prey to such a stereotype. Everyday I repeat to myself that I will rise above it, but if I couldn’t do it in high school, how can I do it now, especially with my terrible work ethic. In senior year, I could count on one hand the number of times I studied for a test, and two hands the amount of times I actually did my homework before the morning it was due, if I did it at all. Yeah, I was that kind of kid, except not many people knew how bad it was. I was a girl people mistook to be “put together” and whenever anyone caught a small whiff of my true ways, they were honestly surprised and shrugged it off. I should’ve been self-destructive, but I still ended the year with straight A’s, even as a second-semester senior (#senioritis). Thing is, I was really good at handling my bad habits. Compared to people I knew who I could tell were letting work slide, I knew what I had to do to maintain appearances, because that’s what I’ve been doing for the past two years. I don’t know if it was just a severe case of burnout that never truly settled itself out, or if I really do have a problem, but I can’t jeopardize my future by letting this happen again and again in college. I want to be perfect like some of my friends so that I can achieve what I want without being recklessly irresponsible or screw everything up like I usually do, but I’m so far from it. Finish it off with the fact that nearly every teacher I had throughout my four years of high school saw me as mediocre and nothing special, no matter how much I admired them in return, made me feel mediocre myself, despite being enrolled at a school where I’m surrounded by absolutely extraordinary people. Will I ever even fit in?

I have no idea how long the list of anxieties I have about college are, but you know what’s also entirely unknown?

What the #@$!% college is anyway.

So God, Who Am I in “The Breakfast Club”?

To what extent are our lives like the ones we see on the silver screen?

Maybe it’s the existentialist post-high school grad in me that’s too caught up in reflecting on her high school years, or maybe it’s the countless high-school/college based dramas I’ve binge-watched on Netflix that have lead me to think that I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing with my social life right now.

I think about college and a quintessential part of it that comes to mind are alcohol and partying — two things that I stayed far FAR away from in high school. When you include things like high school romances and sex and all that jazz, I feel like my role as a casual watcher of a lot of shows like Riverdale or Gossip Girl, has led me to possibly become a not-so-casual observer of my entire life. Should I be wanting to party or try alcohol/drugs, because honestly I don’t and have no desire to do so. Should I want to have a boyfriend and go to whatever promiscuous bases with them, because I honestly never really think about that either (I mean, yeah I’ve had the flippant crush here and there, but never with people I spoke more than 5 words too and it was more of a shallow “I think you’re super attractive in a cool way” kinda deal). To make things worse, every surreal happy or sad moment I actually see on television, I perceive as too idealized to ever happen to me. Every time I see some sappy on-screen kiss or some character going off-the-rails from a traumatic experience, only for a moment do I think “this could happen to me”, but immediately after, I dismiss the thought and resign to my boring, vanilla life. At the end of the day, it’s like I’m at this crossroads of being too immature by not experiencing any of these things that are supposed to be quintessentially high school, but also too mature, because that’s the thing, it’s just not everything to me and I focus on other things. Of course, I’m no star. I’m always distracted by other things and you’ve heard enough about my Netflix-addiction, but in the time throughout high school that I haven’t spent wondering what getting high off a dime bag of weed is like or spending all hours with some guy I’m supposedly in love with yet all we know about each other are our favorite colors and our favorite restaurant open after 10 p.m., I have spent that time doing things I find meaningful with my time, like learning new things I’ll never have the chance to learn when I’m older or spending time with friends who will always mean the world to me (and are also mostly just as “straight-edge and proud” as I am…. most of them that is 🙂 ). So yeah, maybe I never had (or even wanted) a “Jess”, “Dean”, or “Logan” to my Rory, or want to know what it’s like to be cross-faded or black-out drunk at a house party, but when I’m ready to *gasp* date, or step out of my comfort zone (tbh probably will always be a straight-edge Sally, don’t wanna get your hopes up), I want it to feel as if I’m the star of the show, but also completely aware that this is in fact, real life, not an idealized fantasy.

 

But let us not forget that the high school chapter of my life is finished, and who knows what college will bring to the table. I may want to grab some popcorn.

 

P.S. – Don’t worry, I am totally casually ignoring the fact I haven’t posted since March 🙂

I Just Can’t Win: A Diatribe on Misplaced Guilt Over College Acceptances

Holy shiitake mushrooms.

So the past week (or weeks….or months, sorry for the hiatus in writing) has been dramatic and stressful and all around crazy and exhausting, and I’ve felt as if everything is just barrelling down this hill and I’ll get flattened before I even make it to graduation. But in this long, arduous journey that is the second semester of my senior year of high school, I received a rare piece of good news in what seemed like several weeks of disappointments.

I got into Columbia AND Duke.

I was super excited at first. Like, SUPER excited. Like, I wanted to scream it to the world. But, the night after I found out up until only a day or two ago, I’ve felt sick about it. I felt (and still feel) like I personally didn’t deserve to get into either of those schools. I didn’t feel like I did as much as my peers or that my other peers were more qualified or smarter on paper than I could ever be.

I can’t accurately assess what part of my application was so noteworthy that Columbia or Duke would accept me (and let me know early), and as much as I want to talk about it, every time I do, a bitter taste of arrogance, guilt, and shame lingers in my throat. I don’t want to brag, but I keep racking my brain as to all the things I could have possibly done (and in my opinion, it’s not much), and I re-read my essays (which, in my opinion, are pretty mediocre) and I go over my application over and over again and I can’t figure it out. It’s even more troubling for me because both Duke and Columbia I did at the very last minute possible. I didn’t even proofread my Columbia writing supplement, and it took me approximately 40 minutes to write (I pasted it below, in case you thought I was kidding, I really didn’t proofread the thing). I’m not proud of that fact, in fact, I worry I will get rejected from colleges I actually spent time working on applications for, and I can’t even share this sentiment, because my options are two great schools, that I’m only moderately enthused about. As much as I want to discuss it with my friends and family, I feel as if they’ll be annoyed with me and think I’m looking for an ego boost.

I don’t love the predicament I’m in. I admit to being paranoid, imagining and assuming more people don’t like me than do, even among my own friends. I worry that people think I’m dumb and can’t think for myself, and that feeling often acts as an inappropriate motivation for me. I don’t seek superiority, nor do I feel inferior to any specific person (this is shade btw towards a specific individual who won’t even see this), but rather I seek to be seen as an intellectual equal, or at least just competent, yet, no matter how much reassurance I receive, I still sense that people think I’m inadequate everywhere around me. It’s these reasons why I want to leave high school so badly. I want to start anew with a group of people who may perhaps treat me like their equal, and we can all learn from each other.

But for now, despite feeling blessed for the opportunities set forth for me, I’m stuck in high school in suburbia, where getting into Ivy League schools and their near-peers still aren’t enough to prove that maybe, just maybe, there’s a brain under this short little afro of mine.

From your least favorite potential Lion/Blue Devil who unfortunately looks terrible in blue,

O.A.


And the promised mediocre writing supplement, because at some point, I’m going to have to learn to make fun of myself and not be bothered.

What aspect of the Columbia community, outside of the classroom, would you most want to impact and why? (150 words or less)
It is already well established that Columbia and the city of New York is a cultural melting pot. As a girl living in the suburbs, I desperately want to meet, learn from, and debate with people whose views and experiences are outside of my own, however, I not only feel just out of reach of all the rich and disparate cultural influences a city has to offer, but I’m also subject to homogeneity of political opinions and lack of enthusiasm for any form of activism. Columbia has dozens of varied political and activist organizations ranging across a wide spectra of platforms that allow me to share my own voice and expand my own intellectual horizons as I learn from those who can introduce me to new topics of contention and attempt to understand those who disagree or challenge my beliefs, all opportunities difficult to take on in secluded suburbia.

List the titles of the required readings from courses during the school year or summer that you enjoyed most in the past year.
Oedipus Rex and Antigone by Sophocles; The Republic by Plato; East of Eden by John Steinbeck; Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison; Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka; Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller; A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess; The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde;
Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl

List the titles of the books you read for pleasure that you enjoyed most in the past year.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi; Cannery Row by John Steinbeck, Electra, Women of Trachis, and Philoctetes by Sophocles; The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde; A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, and A Storm of Swords by George RR Martin; Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray; Persuasion by Jane Austen; Neverwhere and Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil Gaiman; And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts; The Color Purple by Alice Walker; The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards; The Oresteia by Aeschylus

List the titles of the print, electronic publications and websites you read regularly.
Farnam Street Blog, Makezine, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Following Hadrian, TIME Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, Twitter, Popular Science, Discover Magazine, The New Yorker, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Quora, The Brookings Institution, Teen Vogue, NPR Online

List the titles of the films, concerts, shows, exhibits, lectures and other entertainments you enjoyed most in the past year.
Matilda the Musical; The Nutcracker; The Formation World Tour – Beyonce;
The Dickson Prize Lecture / Science 2016 Game-Changers Conference; Pittsburgh Speaker Series at Heinz Hall – Dave Barry and Panel Discussion: Racism in America; Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures Literary Evening Series – Daniel James Brown;
Ai Weiwei’s Zodiac Heads, Building Optimism: Public Space in South America, and 50 Greatest Photographs of National Geographic, at the Carnegie Museum of Art and Natural History; The Revenant, Deadpool, Hail Caesar, Eddie the Eagle, Kubo and the Two Strings, Me Before You, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Edge of Seventeen, Doctor Strange, Moana, Star Wars: Rogue One, Finding Dory, and Fences

Please tell us what you value most about Columbia and why. (300 words or less)
This world isn’t static. As time progresses, our world becomes increasingly more dynamic and complex, accompanied by the problems that plague it. Time has proven to us that the leaders of tomorrow can’t simply be engaged in one single discipline to make effective, sustainable, and responsible decisions. In a time where even the most reputable news sources and public figures fall prey to aggrandized claims, “fake news”, and sentiments of intolerance, a well-rounded education and an open-minded and culturally diverse environment can equip students with the necessary tools to fight ignorance and sensationalism as we enter adulthood. Columbia College’s Core Curriculum ensures that all students are well-prepared for the challenges of the future as they’re exposed to disciplines outside of their concentration. Exposure to this type of curriculum and educational philosophy teaches and enables students to approach problems with understanding and tact rather than react irresponsibly out of fear or abandon their efforts entirely, both reactions that can jeopardize critical situations in need of delicate solutions. Additionally, Columbia’s location in New York City is an environment where students are bound to come across varied cultural and political perspectives and backgrounds and ultimately learn to become more tolerant and understanding individuals. Coupling Columbia’s unique curriculum with its urban location, also home to countless research and internship opportunities, the university is a unique haven for students who are looking for more than just a strictly educational experience in their intended major, but also an intellectual transformation.
As the students of today begin to enter the public spotlight, it is our civic duty and responsibility to envision and promote a more tolerant, respectful, and advanced vision for the world. Not only does Columbia prepare us to take on that challenge, but these values already are already embraced at the core of the university.

For applicants to Columbia College, please tell us what from your current and past experiences (either academic or personal) attracts you specifically to the field or fields of study that you noted in the Member Questions section. If you are currently undecided, please write about any field or fields in which you may have an interest at this time.
I’m lucky to consider myself an acolyte of both the ancient and modern world. And while my interests don’t necessarily cross paths, they have been instrumental in my own intellectual and personal development as well as a foundation for my future educational endeavors.
Nearly everything in our modern society has some connection to the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome. Studying “dead languages” became one of the liveliest parts of my high school career as my grasp of the English language improved through learning how it derived from the words and grammar constructions of both ancient
Greek and classical Latin. Beyond the language, understanding how the ancient civilizations provided the foundation of our own modern democracy and republic allows us to critically examine our own government and laws and become more responsible private citizens and voters.
Although I enthuse about the Greeks and Romans, my career interests primarily involve biology and computer science. For me, studying biology fuels my innate sense of curiosity, for learning more about the behaviors of the cell is like switching between objective lenses and viewing a specimen in even greater detail. Yet, my enthusiasm for biology is often juxtaposed against my aptitude for computer science, where, as I learned how to code, I realized my own propensity for approaching problems systematically and efficiently and comprehending most subjects in terms of boolean operators and conditional statements. My interest in both biology and computer science was, however, refined and conjoined as a result of a research experience I had through the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. Creating rule-based computational models of my particular cell signaling pathway while also performing immunofluorescence experiments in the lab enlightened me as to how I could combine my interests and pursue a career in research and medicine in the future.

poems for a rough day

a fable about a cub and a bear

a cub estranged from father bear

cries and screams and pulls her hair

and as father’s fury is joined by roar

at least this tale is only lore

 

rag doll 

rag doll, rag doll on the floor

body slammed into a door

struck with hands wrought in steel

dragged around by desperate heel

 

hate

i know what hate is

i know i know

i can feel it

in the essence of my bones

it tingles in skin

it crawls up my spine

and it just so happens

its origin is

thine

 

Will Anyone Sponsor Me for “Cell Phone Addicts Anonymous”?

Seriously, I’ve hit rock bottom.
It’s not important HOW I lost my phone or WHY my phone is never charged or WHERE I ended up finding it (all of these questions have embarrassing answers that will definitely ruin my street cred). What does concern me, however, is the fact that after 20 hours without my phone, I was already exhibiting pseudo-symptoms of withdrawal. I was an irritable, nervous wreck all day solely because I lost my one connection to the outside world — if the outside world is Twitter and memes. Guys, if I can’t even handle a cell phone addiction, how will I be able to handle the burgeoning Adderall addiction I’m slated to have in my sophomore year of college?!


So let’s just check with WebMD right? Checking off all my symptoms, I’m nearly slated to be suffering withdrawal or hepatitis probably, either one being equally legitimate. 

  • Mild withdrawal symptoms  may include:
    • Intense worry.
    • Nausea or vomiting.
    • Shakiness.
    • Sweating.
    • Feeling a little tense or edgy.

Severe withdrawal symptoms may include:

    • Being extremely confused, jumpy, or upset.
    • Feeling things on your body that are not there.
    • Seeing or hearing things that are not there.
    • Severe trembling

(Ok, these could be withdrawal symptoms or just a normal day in the life…am I right guys???)

I’m trying to be half-serious here. Last night, I nearly cried myself to sleep at the thought of going to school without my phone with me at all times. I reached out for a “phantom phone” multiple times. I spent entire class periods lamenting how I had no means to check the time — while there was a watch tightly fastened to my left wrist and a clock mounted on the wall no more than two feet away from me. I had to schedule three college interviews today, and I nearly broke down when I realized I couldn’t check my calendar for my availabilility. Is this level of cell phone dependence normal? Part of me hopes that I’m not the only person who wails in front of her mother about how she can’t function throughout the day without her phone, but then the rest of me really hopes you’re not as much of a hopeless waste of space absorbed in their phone for 23.5 hours a day like me.