By no standards are my Chinese skills any more than proficient. After moving away at the age of 12, things started to fade for me very quickly. After six months I forgot how to write; after a year, my reading; then finally, my identity.
By the time I entered the eighth grade, I had been thoroughly white-washed. Granted, I am only half Chinese, but I was raised to embrace my Chinese background, to be proud of my heritage. But it was slipping away.
I went back to China the summer before I entered my Freshman year of High School. I wasn’t able to handle the street-food, my 8-year-old cousin was speaking better than I was, and I had lost a connection with the country that raised me.
Before I left my Grandmother repeated something to me that she had told me before I moved away. “Remember,” she said simply, “Remember where you come from.” When she said this, I realized it was a plea for me to clasp onto my cultural identity that was on the cusp of being extinguished. I had a life in China, friends, family, and a part of myself that never seems to board the flight to LAX when my visits end.
So I listened to her, I pushed myself to retain the identity I found in being Chinese, I acknowledged the comments of being only half, being unable to communicate, but they don’t bother me. When I listen to songs from my childhood, when I go back to visit, when I speak my native tongue, no matter how poor it is, I feel like myself again.
There are certain things in everyone’s life that hold invaluable, unspeakable significance to their sense of self, to their state of being, that without it, they feel like a bulb without its filament. To me that is the ability to speak in Chinese. As soon as the words escape me, I feel that connection again, I remember the people, taste the food, experience the culture. I am eternally grateful to my Grandmother for what she instilled in me because I know that at my lowest moments I always have something to lean on.
It is common knowledge that Junior year is (most likely) the hardest year of a students high school career. At least that is the case at OVS, where AP courses dominate one’s time and extra curriculars are essential. Senior year is supposed to be different though. There’s the anticipation of college, of being an adult, of spending the last year with people that you’ve grown up with. That’s what I thought when I arrived a week late to school. I expected a general sense of positive anticipation, of laxness and comradery. At first that was true. Everything had a tinge of refreshment and independence. But there was a feeling there that I didn’t expect, but that I was strangely familiar with. And as the days progressed, that feeling expanded, suffocating those sentiments of senior status. Then I began seeing it in other people. Not everyone. Not to the same degree that I was feeling it. But it wasn’t just me. It’s something like this, quoting a good friend of mine: “It feels like I’m rotting on the inside and out, if that makes sense.” To me, it makes perfect sense. That was the feeling that had been growing. A general sense of self degradation. I wasn’t the person that I used to be. Maybe it’s change. Maybe it’s stress. Maybe it’s life experience. I don’t know the cause, but it’s there nonetheless. It’s frightening, even more so when two of your closest friends express those same sentiments to you within a week. Maybe it’s just me, and those of you reading this don’t feel it at all. But if you do feel like something is hollowing you out, if you feel like there’s an unstoppable source of existential decay, then try smiling a little more. Tell your friends you care about them. Do something good every day.
Who knows, maybe you’ll end up on our thumbs up segment of The Wednesday Briefing.
I’ve started this draft several times. I’ve written sentences and sentences only to change them, revise them, and, eventually, just completely eradicate them and end where I started: with nothing. Because every time I try to write about this, I can’t formulate the right words to say. Even though I’ve discovered at OVS that one of my biggest passions is writing, I’m speechless when I try to write about what these last four years meant to me.
When I came to OVS for the first time, I was an awkward freshman. I had no friends, no idea what I was doing, and no idea who I was or who I wanted to be.
The four years to follow threw me in for a loop of highs and lows in self development, friendships, and life. Now I have just a couple days until the craziest, most amazing four years of my life come to an end. Every year at this time, I had a strong desire for the days to end as quickly as possible so I could enjoy my summer break. This time, I’m scared for the inevitable last day of school to come. I’m holding on to every last second I can.
I’ve been to three graduations here. Every single one making me sadder than the rest, but there was always happiness in my heart when I’d hug my friends goodbye for the summer, especially because I knew I’d see them again. On May 31st, I’ll hug all my friends, but, when fall rolls around, I won’t see them again on the hill that’s been my second home for the past four years. We’ll all be scattered across the country taking on different cities and pursuing different passions. We won’t see each other at breakfast every morning or at the barn at the end of every day. We’ll see each other through FaceTime calls and at reunions during our holiday breaks. I’m bound to cry at graduation because of it all.
I’m happy we’re all going to colleges we want to go to and I know that these friends are the ones I’ll have for life. But the realization that this is our last week as high schoolers together is still sending a wave of shock over me that I’ve been drowning in the past couple weeks.
I’m horrified for what the future holds, but, at the same time, I feel so ready. Four years ago, I wasn’t sure if I would ever be ready for college and eight years ago I didn’t have any faith that I would even be going to college. Now, I’m excited to walk into the unknown and I have OVS to thank for it all:
For being a school that’s given me the opportunity to branch out and try everything I could ever want to try. I didn’t have to stick to one niche. I got to be a risk-taking athlete, an unfiltered writer, a confident leader, and everything in between.
The equestrian program for giving me a horse I love more than myself. For giving me a place I’ve made my best friends.
The camping trips where I went running through the Yosemite forests at night time with no flashlight and rode the bull of the raft while river rafting on the Kern trip. For making me push my limits and having them turn out to be the most rewarding moments of my life. For making me realize I love camping even though I hate going days without showering.
For my AP Spanish class making me fall in love with the language all over again and decide to study abroad in Spain instead of France. Law/Gov class that furthered my excitement to move to D.C. to study politics and intern on Capitol Hill. Especially for my journalism class that provided a source of gossip, a place to rant, and an endless supply of snacks, but more importantly, it has given me an outlet to explore writing and inspire me to pursue it in college.
Thank you for everything. For the good, the bad, and everything in between. No words could say it all.
I’m not gonna lie and say this school is perfect. There’s so much I’ve complained about and so many things I would change. But if I’m going to be honest, it was perfect for me. It was the place I needed for the kind of person I was to become who I am today. I had no idea what my purpose was or what my passions were and, while I’m still on a road of self-discovery, OVS put me on the right path.
it was flying above the grass at the park, i was having a picnic.
it was pretty and it was green .
not grass green, but lime green.
then, i remembered that green was the color of your room before you redecorated it last summer
and then i saw your room and what it used to look like before you thought your drawings were stupid and before you decided you liked purple more.
from there, i saw you and how you looked last week and then how you made me laugh really hard the other night.
then, i thought if we will ever go anywhere.
and then i think about other people who might be more exciting than you, but how you’re nice too.
i think about my friend’s friend and how maybe he’s fun to talk to.
then, i get going on conversations.
i remember that i want to meet an aquarius, because i heard that they are really compatible with gemini’s and
what i really think i need right now is someone i’m compatible with.
no more of this taurus-virgo bullshit!
but, she’s a taurus and he’s a capricorn.
i think that maybe they’ll be the exception, but, in the back of my mind, i know neither of them will be because taurus are too routine, stubborn, and clingy for me and capricorn-
well, i don’t know much about capricorn, but i looked up our compatibility and it’s not good.
and that will be stuck in the back of my head for just about ever.
now, i completely forget about you and him and her and conversations and zodiac signs, (particularly taurus, virgos, and capricorns) and then i think about the lyrics to the sing deceptecon by le tigre and then i think about the whole riot grrrl movement
and how i wish i was apart of it and how i wonder if it’s still alive today in any form and how if it is then those people involved are people i wanna know.
i think about how i need to make a new playlist and
about how cluttered my playlists are along with my mind and then i get overwhelmed because i get overwhelmed easily.
how maybe if i make a new playlist with music other than rap i’ll feel better and life will make much more sense then.
and then i snap back into it because the lady giving me a massage hits my back harder than expected and tells me she’s finished with the massage and my neck still hurts, oh, and i was never looking at a butterfly at all.