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In about two weeks I'm going to graduate. It’s been an interesting four and a half years, filled with ups and downs, things I expected and others I never thought would. I didn’t think I’d end up at UF, but I sit here now and realize this was where I needed to be. I'm happy with how the last four and a half years transpired, and now I wait for the next.
When I first read Tom Stoppard’s play, “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,” I was in what I like to dub the first great existential crisis of my life. It was my senior year of high school and the only thing that gave me any sense of purpose in my life was focusing on college applications. Getting into college — my top choice, specifically — was the only goal I had. After that, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study or what I wanted to do. I was beginning to realize the be-all and end-all of my high school life was not the be-all and end-all of life.
I am supposed to write about my purpose. That is an odd task, at least in my opinion, to reduce my purpose to one or two single-spaced pages. This implies a multitude of things: one, that I do have a purpose and, two, my purpose is applicable to the exact program and exact situation so I could sum it all up in one or two single-spaced pages.
Earlier this week, I was studying. I was in the library, where most people are when they study, and I found a perfect little table in the basement of Marston Science Library. It was nearing hour three of my study venture, and I was making decent progress. I brought snacks to tide me over and filled my water bottle. I had an arsenal of colored pens, my notebook, my hard copy of the textbook at my disposal. Last but not least, I had the most important part of any study session — my ear buds.
I’m going to sound like a very stereotypical college-age young woman (college-age English major specifically) and talk about the scene in Sylvia Plath's “The Bell Jar” where Esther is lying beneath a fig tree. Here, she imagines that each fig represents an imagined future — she sees a famous editor, a poet, a housewife — and she cannot make up her mind as to which fig to pluck, since choosing one means losing the rest, and then they all begin to shrivel up, and it is simply too late.
High school me was very different than the current me. Now, this column is not going to be about my dynamic growth as a person, so I’m not going to go into too much detail. Here are some highlights: High school me was going to wait until she was 21 to drink (ha). High school me thought it was cool to wear a skirt over jeans. High school me once put a stuffed lobster in her pocket to be quirky. High school me was very self-conscious about wearing glasses. High school me thought no boy would ever like her. High school me didn’t go to parties and then justified that she wasn’t invited with the fact that she wouldn’t have wanted to go anyway.
I have to give Ryan Murphy credit. I didn’t think there could be an “American Horror Story” season worse than the fourth season, “American Horror Story: Freak Show,” but two episodes into “Cult,” I think I have to call it.
I wanted to write about something political. I really did. I wanted to write about how I was told by two professors that class might be canceled either due to weather conditions or the violent threats of white supremacists. I wanted to write about the repeal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
In an interview with Playboy, singer-songwriter Halsey recently opened up about the struggles of identifying with her black culture while being white-passing. Depending on what form of social media I saw this article, I either saw people supporting her — often those of multiple ethnicities who felt a struggle to connect with their cultures — or people telling her to grow up and just get used to the fact that she’s “white.”
On Aug. 7 my little brother and I had to trek across London from one airport to another, accompanied by two large suitcases, phones that did not work outside of the country and the exhaustion of a day of traveling. Due to general miscommunication, we were separated from the rest of our family, whose flights were out of Heathrow Airport the next day. Ours was out of Gatwick Airport (which has no direct Tube line, mind you).
I came home for Thanksgiving very eager to shut myself inside the house and relax; my sister came home very eager to get out of the house and see all the friends she had left behind. It’s not that I don’t have friends in my hometown. It’s just that one of them doesn’t come home for that short break, and the others I see in Gainesville anyway. I didn’t really keep in contact with all the people I was friendly with in high school. Maybe in the beginning I did, but in the end, only the really strong relationships lasted.
Instead of doing the predictable thing and giving my hot take on the election results, which will undoubtedly echo that of people in my similar demographic, I’m going to talk about memes.
When it comes to birthdays, people usually fall into one of two categories: apathetic and not really considering it to be a big deal, or incredibly enthusiastic to the point of being obnoxious. For some reason, even though I am often a person who shies away from the spotlight and prefers the corner of a room to the center of the party, I’ve always fallen in the latter category. I never had a big Sweet 16 or a car waiting in the driveway for me, but from first grade to my senior year of high school, I always had some sort of birthday party and really put my heart into making it a fun time — not just for myself, but for my friends.
My high-school sex education was brief and to the point. “Don’t have sex, or you will suffer severe psychological and physical trauma” was the main message, hammered to the point with vivid pictures of STDs and a video where some edgy teen discussed his misadventures with sex in very forced slang dialogue. The add-on point was “If you are being physically abused by your partner, here’s a hotline you can call.”
I went on vacation two weekends ago, and almost everything that could’ve gone wrong did go wrong. It was a weekend adventure to the Desert Trip concert in California (dubbed “Oldchella,” because it was a showcase of ’70s and ’80s musicians on the Coachella grounds) with my dad and my sister, and going in, I was already nervous. I’m a naturally anxious person; my dad and my sister are not. So the week beforehand, I had called them numerous times trying to figure out what the “plan” was. As of Tuesday, two days before we left, I didn’t even know what time the flight was. The two of them just told me to relax and that they’d take care of it, which wasn’t exactly helpful to my overly anxious brain.
There are a lot of times I think I did college wrong. This becomes especially evident as my college career slowly creeps toward a close, while my sister’s is just taking off. Because of the glorious war of sister rivalry, sometimes I can’t help but compare our freshman years. She’s been making new friends every day, working out regularly, going out every weekend and bonding with the people on her floor.
I’m going to come out and admit something I usually only share with close friends: I role-play online. Now before you start thinking I spend time on Neopets forums, let me briefly explain the type of role-playing I do. I role-play through Tumblr. Each character I play has a different blog, and I’m part of a larger group in which each person has a handful of characters with their own blogs. When it comes to actually role-playing, it goes like this: I write a scene through my character’s perspective, then whoever I am role-playing with writes the same scene through their character’s point of view and advances it. This keeps on going until the thread finishes.
As someone who was raised by immigrant parents and has traveled abroad multiple times in her life, I am acutely aware of the average American’s geographic and cultural ignorance. This shouldn’t be a surprise to most people; after all, it is a subject of self-deprecating humor on late-night talk shows. We seem to be aware that the Average Joe can’t differentiate Iraq from Iran and thinks all Asian food comes from the same place. We laugh at him and take comfort in the fact that we know our Pad Thai isn’t Chinese, thank you very much. But are we really much better?
I love my mother, and I hate stereotypes about Asian women, but I’m going to come clean and say this: She is not a good driver. I, unfortunately, have inherited this trait from her.
If you’re not familiar with the term Manic Pixie Dream Girl, let me give you a refresher. The term, coined by film critic Nathan Rabin, is used to describe spirited, quirky female characters (usually written by men) that inspire the brooding male hero to find joy in life. It is an overdone trope that devalues female characters, reducing them to plot tools for the more complexly written male characters.