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How many days has it been? I don’t think I’d be the first to say that I lost count after the first couple of days. But today, for the first time, I have a number in my mind’s eye. Not the number of days that has passed, but rather the number of days ahead: four. There’s just four days until I will be able to see the faces of those who I’ve shared cherished two-dimensional minutes with through the screens that have been my only windows to the world outside.

When I flew home after a spring break that now feels like a distant fantasy, I had no idea what laid ahead. None of us did. The most recent precedent was experienced by generations that have long since passed and the scale of the pandemic was yet to be truly realized. It felt strangely fictional, a long, ominous, drama that held no promise of resolution. For weeks, I functioned on a nocturnal schedule that months later I still have yet to fix. Some days passed by with the blink of an eye, as I padded back and forth from table to table and chair to chair, checking off task after task. Other days, passed much more slowly, the sun rising and falling behind a closed curtain unrealized by the room’s unmotivated inhabitant. The confines of my home became a cell I escaped once a day for runs around the neighborhood, like a hamster released from metal cage to plastic ball to run in endless circles.

Four days. With the impending end of the chapter to this book, I look back to its first sentences and marvel at how much has filled its pages since. How did everything that has happened all fit within these walls? Behind the newly painted room decorations hung up with peeling tape, these walls have held so many anger tantrums, lonely cries, happy cheers, frustrated outbursts, and socially distanced laughs. Within them I’ve attended online classes, been initiated into a sorority, finished my first year in college, been interviewed and hired for my first internship, and watched through a scrolling feed as the country I was born in burned with centuries-old rage. While little about this room and the tangible items in it have changed besides the browning edges of the often neglected house plants, I know that the person and the mind that occupies these walls has.

I’ve survived it. And I’ve survived a good amount of it alone. That is a feat.

The holidays have brought me home once again, bringing the inevitable conversations with parents about life plans (my sister, who's a senior in college knows this all too well), awkward interactions with Asian relatives who always seem to comment on your weight-loss or weight gain, and a stomach that is somehow consistently stuffed and hungry at the same time.


Although this first holiday season home after my very first semester in college isn't as revelatory as it may be for most of my peers (I went to a boarding school abroad for four years and have the mileage points, and back pain to prove it), something about being halfway through my freshmen year in college makes this time a little different. Call it an end-of-decade crisis or the grandma in me showing itself, but this is the first time I really feel my childhood slipping just outside of my grasp, fossilizing itself in those iTunes photo reels. It's those photographs flipping on a TV screen, reminding us of past family vacations, with the silly poses only eight-year-olds have the cuteness to pull off, that remind us how curious, anxiety-free, and unrealized we once were. I could point to those photos of me with pigtails, no front teeth, and chocolate ice cream smeared across my face and say yeah, that's me as a kid. But now, facing the mirror and the slightly insecure, slightly stressed, and slightly clueless reflection looking critically back at me, I find myself in the no-man's-land of life. I am neither here nor there. Neither a purposeful adult nor a carefree naive kid anymore.


It sounds kind of sad at first, but really it's kind of nice here in this awkward space. I'm lucky I have two parents that encourage me to do whatever I want with the only requirement that I'm doing something. These first two years in college, my underclassmen years, are really a chance for me to explore, to try new things, to challenge myself... I like to think of it as an eve to the exciting adventures that lie just beyond graduation. It's fitting then, that in just a few days, a shiny, brand new decade is going to begin.


I've learned a lot about myself in these past few months. OK, to be honest, since I'm pretty self-aware and reflective (grandma in me showing again) I feel like I'm always learning new things about myself. BUT, I do think I've made some pivotal realizations in recent weeks about who I am and who I want to be. These realizations come from the mistakes and successes that I've had, as well as the observations I've made of how people around me react to adversity. I'm currently in the meat of the book The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer and seeing how each character has grown and reacted to the realities of life has also crystalized my idea of what being a good human being entails.


I've got a few goals for myself. First off, I want to be a doer -- the person who says things but does them too. Secondly, I want to be an energy bringer -- someone who comes into situations with positivity and (yeah, the name says it) energy and who doesn't bring other people's energy down. Thirdly, I want to be someone I am proud of. Those are all the elements of the person I aspire to be, and I know that because of who I am, I will be the most joyful and fulfilled when I embody those qualities.


SIDENOTE: can we just talk about for a sec how ugly jealousy looks on someone? When I was reading The Interestings (shout out to my bestie Shirley for recommending this gem of a book to me), the character of Jules can't seem to be able to be truly happy for the success of her closest friends - at least that's where she's at at the 48% mark of the novel. She is plagued by this blotchy, purple envy that so clearly corrupts her authenticity and character that it's almost painful to see how her childhood jealousy ages into a sour contempt for her seemingly less-than life as an adult. I have come to the understanding that friends you want to surround yourself with are the ones that genuinely celebrate your wins and feel pain in your losses. These are the ones that I will be tied to forever with the unbreakable tie of empathy that comes with true friendship.

That's all the thoughts I have for now. Although I know I could probably go on for days about things I'd like to work on, especially how quick I am to judge my family and those who I hold closest to my heart. 'Til I find some cohesive way to get them down on here... ✌️

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