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.

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Desensitizing

In psychology, we learned about a technique called systematic desensitization where one goes through a series of increasingly stressful events that helps them react to a certain stimulus in a neutral way. For example, for those who are deathly afraid of spiders, they would

1.) see a picture of a spider

2.) touch that picture

3.) see a real, dead spider

4.) hold the dead spider

And so on, until he or she are finally fully comfortable in handling spiders without running away in fear. However, sometimes, the act of desensitizing doesn’t need an expansive or complicated process linked to it. In fact, in some cases, we just need to keep witnessing the item constantly in order to produce the neutral response.

That’s why, though it is informative and important, I feel that the news broadcasting stations take away the initial emotions we’d feel if we saw those events occur for the first place. Let me put it in simpler terms. How many times on television, or on the radio, have we heard reports of rape or burglary. Countless right? And I think when we were younger, hearing something like that caused a shiver to run through our body. It made the world stop for a second as we realized that we didn’t really live in the fantasy world we dreamed of. However, as we got older, and we began to hear more stories, that feeling of fear went away. Oh? Another robbery? I’m not saying that we don’t care. I mean, we’re human, so of course we have hearts.

But . . . how big of an event does it have to be to catch our attention nowadays? How detrimental does it have to be towards mankind for tears to form in our eyes? Do we really need shootings, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters to ban together? Thousands of accidents occur daily, whether they are crashes, homicides, suicides, etc. And although they might only affect a handful of people, they still HAPPEN. It shouldn’t take the deaths or sorrow of many for us to open our eyes. A break-in should be treated with the same fear, anger, determination to change the world, that say a tsunami would bring in. That’s the only way we’ll find the world changing. Because John Legend’s right,

“The news said that sky is falling, globe is warming

My country’s warring, leaders are lying, time is running

Nowhere to go baby, nowhere to go”

<3 A.

Merci

Hi kids,

So this past weekend was jam-packed with emotions. Right after 2nd period on Friday, I was so angry, I was near tears. Why you ask? Because Mr. Iwanaga refused to give me my password to check my grades online. He started making up this excuse of how he told us in the beginning of the year that we were supposed to make copies of our password and how the only way he could recite it to me is if I gave up part of my extra credit. Now really, I can totally take a joke here and there, but when a teacher stands between me and my grades and thinks it’s funny, that is definitely the last straw. Haha, I remember during lunch, I was ranting to all the IB juniors about how I was going to write a blog dedicated to bashing him.

However, by the time I finished practice and started getting into the whole Middle School dance, most of my steam had blown off. When part of my Leo family and I went to Cherry on Top afterward, they gave me hope that something could be done and April even offered to come in on Monday to talk to Iwi herself (which worked by the way). So things were starting to look up. But remember, this is life, and life is full of ups AND downs. So Saturday night, after spending a great time with Nancy and Eileen and looking forward to going to UCLA, I come home to find out that the entire Leo family won’t be at any event all together. Tim can’t make it to Relay for Life. Color Guard overshadows the Easter Egg Hunt, Diamond Bar Birthday, District Meetings, and Talent Show. And to top it all of, Daylight Savings was on Sunday. So at that time, Diana and I had succumbed to just saying “FML.”

But then Tim sends me something that just brings a whole new light. He sent me a link to a speech he made about gratitude FRESHMAN year: Tim’s Gratitude Speech. I mean its common knowledge to say “thank you” to those around you and give thanks for all you have. However, in the stressful lives we occupy today, sometimes, a little gratitude is forgotten. We often take for granted, the people who are near and dear to us, because we hold this conception that no matter what, they will always be there for us. But sometimes, a simple “thanks” is needed, just to let them know that you appreciate everything they do for you.

Likewise, one must also be grateful for his or her own self. We all contribute something to this great world and therefore we must embrace ourselves and be proud to be who we are. There is no “perfect” person. If all of us were able to gain perfection, life wouldn’t be as interesting anymore. Therefore, every flaw and impurity that our body contains must be seen as additions to the overall beauty of ourselves. I won’t go overboard and say that your body is your temple. However, we must treat ourselves with respect before we are able to show respect to others. Ultimately, follow-through with practices that make you HAPPY. Eat well, sleep well, excerise, explore . . . dream, believe, listen. Because, if you’re not happy, what’s the point of your life?

So the question of the week is, “Why do we have a Spring Break”? In actuality, I mean, why do we have long periods of “breaks” in general. But since Spring Break is on my mind, we’ll use that particular example. Why do we have such a week off called “break”, when it really isn’t a break from life’s pressures and demands? Schools give us this week in order to rest and prepare ourselves both mentally and physically for the last two hardcore months of the school year. And yet, we are still plagued with SAT/AP preparations, college decisions, and other worries. And to top it all off, school itself adds on about two week’s worth of homework and projects into this one week assuming that we’ll get it done.

How exactly is one going to respect himself and be thankful for who he is, when there is no break in between to contemplate upon all he has achieved? It’s funny . . . everything ultimately falls back to T.I.M.E. Oh Father Time . . . you and I need to have a deep discussion soon!

So, as Diana and I are still on that “gratitude high”, I just want to say thank you to ALL of you. Even if it’s just to the same two people who always read my blog, I just want you to know that I am so grateful that I was able to meet you and I couldn’t ask for a better friend. Thank you for always being there for me and just know that I absolutely, positively, undeniably love you! (: <3 (: <3 (: <3 LML.

<3 A.