Reintroduction of Serendipity

Given that today is Thanksgiving, albeit a Hallmark-driven holiday, I figured it would be the right time to reintroduce my blog’s theme, “serendipity”. It is times like these, when you reflect on what you are thankful for, that you realize how much these fortunate accidents tend to shape your life for the better.

I originally stumbled across this word when watching the movie, Serendipity (which is a great holiday movie, by the way!), starring Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack.

Jonathan: This is the ultimate blend to drink. How’d you find this place?

Sara: I first came in because of the name: Serendipity. It’s one of my favorite words.

Jonathan: It is? Why?

Sara: It’s such a nice sounding word for what it means: a fortunate accident.

After this film, I began to witness how “serendipity” truly plays a character in our daily lives – and for all those times I can count, the outcome is always better.

An example? My Applied Developmental Psychology (ADP) minor at UCLA. I had known from the moment I started college that I wanted to minor in Applied Developmental Psychology. However, when I applied my sophomore year, I wasn’t accepted and I was absolutely heart-broken. Along with the disappointment, I wasn’t too keen on applying soon after. Less than a year later, however, while busy with plans to study abroad in the summer, I decided to apply last-minute on a whim. I’m not sure what consumed me, but despite the application being due the following day, I just knew I had to get it in. So in less than 24 hours, I contacted and received a spur-of-the-moment letter of recommendation from my 5th grade teacher and mentor (thank you, Mrs. Burke!) and was able to submit in a complete application. Two weeks later, I was offered a spot for the Summer 2012 cohort.

Spontaneity for the win, right? And sure, my plans for studying abroad were scratched. But as my good friend, Diana, noted today when I saw her, there’s always tomorrow. Back in high school, we planned on going to Spain together. Maybe that’s meant to be or maybe we’ll find our way there through some alternate path. While I advocate studying abroad in college, it just wasn’t in the books for me; but what I got out of my minor is priceless. Along with all the interactions with the children, I have met some of the most remarkable people through this minor. Some outside of my cohort, who supported me when I struggled to fulfill pre-med requirements and my minor requirements by overlapping classes and taking the maximum amount of units (thank you, Yujia!). And some inside my cohort, including one of my good friends post-graduation, Marina. I mention Marina because I had dinner with her a few weeks back. And it was then that I thoroughly explained to her about everything that went down with Columbia. Without hesitation, criticism, or disbelief, she simply said the following phrase. A phrase that was reiterated by my former partner-in-crime, Jessica, who I met up with this week,

“I feel like you’re doing you”

And that’s what I am thankful for – being surrounded by friends and family who understand where my true passions lie and are willing to believe in my dreams. I have done some crazy things in the past, but despite all that, they all have faith in me. My father, my mother, my sister. My advisors, mentors, and role models. My best friends from 4th grade, my friends from college and my friends in high school. Now I just need faith in myself, in my destiny, as I make my way towards medical school.

Along with Diana, I reconnected with Tim, a friend who will one day be one of the most powerful motivational speakers out there. He wrote this great gratitude speech, so while you’re dealing with that post-dinner food coma, check it out. In short, I am thankful for my failures along with successes. Without them, I would not be where I am today. If I wasn’t rejected the first time, I would have never met the people I did in my cohort in ADP. To sum it up, I am thankful for serendipity.

In gratitude,

A.

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Unpredictable Until the End

Nearly a month ago, I had booked my one-way ticket to New York and was ecstatic at the possibility of a new life. Fast forward to today and not only am I still in sunny California, but I am in fact, not attending graduate school for the time being. Many may question this decision – in fact, many may assume that I simply “chickened out” or was all talk. But I can assure you, up until last night, my bag was packed and I was still enrolled in my classes at Columbia. And yet, this past week has been filled with so many events – “omens” you might say – that influenced my decision to stay. So I guess you could say that while it was decided last-minute, it was in no way a “last-minute decision”.

As I wrote in my previous post, an unexpected situation arose with the apartment. Months before, I thought I had secured an apartment and well-known apartment mates who would be understanding, communicative, and all above, kind – given that we were all Resident Assistants, I more so expected this than hoped for it. However, as the date for my arrival drew closer, certain unattractive characteristics began to unveil themselves. I could list out all of them here, but what would be the point? To reiterate, I am known to be a people-pleaser. What I hate more than anything else, is disappointing people. So to drop out of my apartment as quickly as I did must be supported by some legitimate reasons. Which I would be more than happy to discuss in person. Until then, let’s just say these misgivings grew to the point where I felt absolutely unsettled about the big move.

This past week, I felt as if I was burdened down with something I couldn’t quite pinpoint. As I continued to attempt to salvage the apartment situation, I began to think of alternative options. One possibility was to simply find a new apartment. Another possibility was – to the satisfaction of my mother – stay at home and instead, focus on my goal from elementary school. When I came into UCLA and immersed myself in the science curriculum, I was immediately discouraged. I began to doubt myself and my chances of getting into medical school and in fear of failure, I began to contemplate alternative career paths. Of course, those who were closest to me, such as my best friends and family, could not wrap their minds around this change in occupation. However, I had the support of those who did not know me quite as well and who believed that college was a time for change. So I readily morphed into someone who was never sure of what she wanted to be from the beginning. I ignored deadlines, the MCAT, and anything else that should have been done in preparation for medical school during my undergraduate career.

Fast forward to the end of senior year and I finally realized that I squandered away an opportunity on fear alone. So while I had decided to go to graduate school in Columbia for my Masters degree, I promised myself I would still take some steps towards becoming a doctor, whether that would be preparing and signing up for the MCAT or taking additional science courses on top of the courses necessary for my degree. I think that’s something many people have to understand – yes, it was Columbia. Yes, I had a set future. Yes, I could have gone on to pursue a PhD degree. However, this was my back-up plan. As much as I enjoyed Developmental Psychology in college, I really couldn’t see my life’s career being built around it.  Fear, rejection, the thought of not being where I wanted to be by the age of thirty – these thoughts and expectations are what fueled me to go the practical route and have a back-up plan rather than taking the plunge and fighting for what I love.

Of course, I considered the fact that this could be me, making up excuses once again for the condition known as “cold feet”. Could it be that my nerves are just getting to me? Maybe I am meant to go to New York. I know my mother is against it. I know my relatives in Sri Lanka are against it  – with the daily texts from my uncle and what not. So maybe their insecurities are what I’m currently feeling? But then, I spoke to my best friend, Siobhan, and reasoned everything out. And the next day, my best friends – JPAACKS – took  me out for a farewell lunch. And when I told them that I was considering deferring Columbia and just staying here to pursue my medical dream, they were absolutely ecstatic for me – happy that I was the “old” Anantha once more. And that’s when I knew for sure. If the people I love, see this as a viable option, then perhaps I am doing the right thing after all.

I told everyone that these are my “selfish years” – my only opportunity to go off to New York and discover more about myself. But being selfish means doing what I want. And after four years of throwing myself into school, volunteering, work, and research, I’m taking a break. A break from a schedule and doing some self-improvement in the comfort of my own home. Many of my fellow graduates cringe at the thought of going back to the nest. But let’s face it – I will have more opportunities in life to travel and explore. But the years are numbered when it comes to spending time with my family. How many more Halloweens will I have to actively participate in candy handouts with my family? How many more Christmases and Hindu holidays? I took this all for granted back in high school, but I do not intend to take these days for granted during my “one-year break”.

This year is still dedicated to me. I’ll be writing in my blog, working on ideas for a novel, exploring nearby cities and traveling, and hitting the gym with my best friends. But I’ll also be working towards my long-term goal of being a doctor. It’s going to be hard work – I know it. But I know whole-heartedly that this is what I want. And regardless of the number of years it takes, I’m going to get there. So with that, I have a new countdown – in five months’ time, I’ll be conquering the MCAT.

Until then,

A.

Sunday Morning Musings

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This morning I came across a Tumblr that belonged to an acquaintance from high school. Now I say acquaintance because although we were project partners in middle school and knew of each other for many years now, we were never really more than “Facebook friends”. And let’s be honest, I was very much jealous of her. I was jealous that she was ranked #1 in our class of 900 students while also participating in multiple extracurriculars. I was jealous that she had been accepted and was going to Brown and on top of all of that, she had a steady boyfriend. I was jealous that she had a solid group of friends, all with bright futures themselves, and a fantastic physique. So you can imagine my interest piquing when I came across her blog. Now this blog consisted of 112 pages. 5 posts on each page which comes out to roughly 560 posts. I have other friends on Tumblr – friends that I actually speak to on a regular basis or who I “care” more about. Have I ever taken the time to read every post they written. Have I ever spent 2 hours just sitting there, clicking through each of their links and pictures?

But with this girl, I was just so curious to see how her life was. Was it just as seemingly-fantastic as it was in high school? It’s funny – as I read, I began to see more of her than I ever saw in the past 10+ years of knowing her. Back in elementary school, her family had so little money that it was a strict diet of ramen for many years. She struggled with eating disorders in high school and similar to myself, have had this ongoing internal battle of relationships & personal happiness versus career goals. However, unlike myself, she has prevailed in college. And yet, she’s still taking a year off before medical school.

I’m not sure why this last bit of information strikes me so strongly – I believe it’s because she finally seems somewhat ‘human’. The fact that this amazingly smart, beautiful, talented girl is also taking a year off doesn’t make it seem so far-fetched that I’m postponing my own medical dreams for another two years. In fact, reading her entire blog was more interesting/fulfilling like a good movie or book, rather than informative. Well no, I mean, it was very informative, but it was the type of blog that I would have willingly followed rather than out of obligation. It’s a shame that I’m still the same person from high school who shies away from public commitment in fear of retaliation. What I mean by this is, who knows what sort of reaction I will get. And even more frightening, what if she shares my blog with people in high school that I truly detest? People like that – people who are very much two-faced, I just can’t have them reading my personal thoughts. So instead of proudly reblogging every post of hers – I cut corners and found other sources so that I wouldn’t be linked to her in any way.

Funny how much time can be spent trying to stay invisible. Anyway, what I got from this morning’s discovery is much more than a few reblogged posts. It’s hope that things will get better. I always felt a little jaded towards those with money going to school because they were able to get so many more resources than I could. But from reading her posts, seeing how much time and dedication she put into her work, research, and school, I realize that I too, need to put a pause on my social life. I’ve been using the excuse of “making up for my teenage years” for far too long. It’s time to evaluate what is necessary. Obviously this means that Campus Events Commission should probably come off of my priority list. But I uphold commitments and will not shy away. Instead, this means that more effort MUST be put in to make every minute count.

That being said, I also need to suck up my pride and fear, and just DO IT. Yes, LA food adventures with Kevin last year were great. But I need to go above and beyond that. I need to take advantage of offers such as megabus.com (which, contrary to Adam’s annoying insistence, is not a scam) and travel. I need to do everything possible at UCLA so that when I leave, I know that I got everything I wanted from this university. No regrets.

Perhaps being let go from the Resident Assistant position was a blessing in disguise. In my heart, as much as my parents want me to stay around here for graduate school, I see myself somewhere out-of-state. And what would my future apartment mates there say if I had NO idea how to rent an apartment, access utilities, or make my own meals? Embarrassing, no?

Oh, another thing said in this girl’s blog that speaks words of wisdom is buying clothes that are more durable and future-conscious. Instead of buying random clothes on a whim or for a specific occasion, I need to start thinking long-term. I don’t believe it’s healthy to think everything out long-term, like she has done, but I do believe that in my twenties, as I travel, and grow, and become the woman I want to be, I do need to start taking this into consideration.

I have a beautiful apartment, a new MacBook Pro, CEC, my research, and my schoolwork. I will do what I need to do to be happy and successful and truly make 2013 memorable because I did something about it.

Yay for unexpected throwbacks and revelations.

<3 A.

Sadies: Back to Reality

Alright, so rejection. I can’t stand it. I try to avoid it at all costs, even if it means ultimately losing. I don’t know why it’s such a big fear of mine. Maybe it’s because there’s a tiny part of me that thinks that no one wants me when I am rejected. And hey, it’s human nature to want to be loved and be in love. But it is also common knowledge that if you don’t put yourself out there, you won’t get anywhere.

So why couldn’t I just ask him to Sadies? I mean, if I REALLY wanted to, I could have gone through with it. And if he said yes, I could have found a way to go, buy the clothes, the entire thing. And yet, it was that IF. If he said yes. Because chances are, with such beautiful, oriental girls around him, he would have said no to me. I’m not the typical asian that dominates the school. So why choose me over any of them. Especially when you’re one of those popular kids who any girl would want to go with?

Other people said that for sure he would say yes if I asked him. But why? Because we’re both in Leo Club? Because we both happen to be involved in Leo Club? Well, looks are deceiving, and so was that undying devotion he seemingly portrayed for the club AFTER Youth Symposium. See, this is what happens when you go to the Youth Symposium, or any get-away weekend that is just fantasy-like. You enter a cave of darkness and are blind to the faults of others. And so after Youth Symposium, I really thought I had fallen for him. I thought he was perfect. Long legs and a short torso, Persian (Serendipity <—— Seredip <—— Persian for “Sri Lanka”), a passion for Leo Club, a Senior, literally a Leo in astrology (which is supposedly the perfect match for a Gemini), tall, kind, assertive, funny, fun to be around with, and all together a decent guy. I thought, yes, this isn’t a crush. This is downright more because no one has ever made me feel like this <——- excited to go to school just to see him, other than that other guy. And I thought, well HE and I were never perfect fits, but this, this IS perfect.

And yet I didn’t ask him because of my insecurities. And because, if he did reject me, that would completely shatter my fantasy and I would rather live in fantasy than reality. But why? Because my reality isn’t exactly heart-warming. I have two parents who have such high expectations they are unreachable. A father who doesn’t acknowledge the fact that I have studied this hard and haven’t been rejected from a school yet, but instead dwells on the fact that I wait-listed for Washington University. A mother who just cannot accept me for who I am. When I wore collared-shirts, jackets, and long sleeves, she said I dressed like an old woman and didn’t act like a normal teenage girl. When I developed more of a fashion sense and began to pair tank tops with a little sweater, she said it was too revealing to the point where it was whoreish. So what’s enough mother? In my fantasy, I am the ideal daughter that her parents always wanted. The daughter who never disappoints but instead, will always bring in pride. Pride. I have never been P-R-O-U-D of myself. Sure, I have been proud of others and I have achieved certain things, but I have never felt like being myself was worthwhile. I don’t know why . . actually scratch that. I know why. I was just always raised with the notion that I’m not good enough.

Because of my parents’ limitations, I have never been able to experience those childhood necessities. Like playing with other kids on the streets, or going to one another’s houses, or sleeping over. And as the demand to study increased, I lost touch with my friends to the point where I came back and felt like a stranger. So I of course started rebuilding those relationships, because I wasn’t going to let friendships, especially those formed nine years ago, just go to waste. But doing so, the fights with my parents increased. I don’t know what it is with parents who think that the friends are the cause of the rifts created between their children and themselves. I definitely don’t want that with my future family.

And so that’s another fantasy, raising a family with a good foundation and relationship. We would have daily dinners together, regardless of everything else going around, so that we could actually connect, and I would trust that because I raised my kids well, they will make the right decisions. I won’t deprive them to the point that they continually have to question their own identity.

God. I wish people would stop disappointing. Give me something to believe in please. My parents, though I love them and everything they have done for me, disappoint me so much. And everyone else I care for. They all . . . just don’t seem to care at the end.

So what was I talking about? Oh, that guys – whowas a fantasy to replace the cruel reality of HIM. I heard that guy had a “burn-out” (which he was later punished for), because he was so excited that this other girl asked him. But that didn’t bother me. But when Kristina told me that she saw him at Sadies with her. That’s when reality came back in. She is one of those beautiful, asian girls who I could never compare to. And as I keep thinking about it, he isn’t as devoted to Leo Club. Sure, he maybe stands with the board, but he doesn’t come to all the events and all the board meetings. He may SAY something, but he doesn’t really. He’s ultimately, all talk and no action. He couldn’t go support Tim at his student speaker contest after promising him so, but he could go to Sadies the day after. I know we adopted him as the Leo family, but really, he isn’t. I don’t consider him to be part of my close family at all.

So there goes another fantasy. A fantasy of going to prom with my Leo kids. Where I would go with hima and wear this stunning, long, yellow halter dress (already can picture it), and Tim would go with Diana, and Freddie would go with Katherine, and so on. No, it doesn’t work out that way, now does it? So let’s close that vision. And start sticking to reality.

TOK: Assignment in April due

Math: Study for IB exam, Surprise tests?

Biology: A on Tuesday’s exam

Psychology: Read the book.

Lit: Finish Joyce Journals, start/finish Woolf Journals, study for Joyce test, find Joyce book

Chem: Chem presentation

Scholarships, 2008 Tax Return Forms, IDOC, competitions = H.E.L.L.

Welcome to reality.

– A.