Something is wrong; I’ve discovered a terminal illness
That makes me sit in class with a death-like stillness
Leaving scars on my conscience; a limb must be severed
The remedy is bankrupt, despite my endeavors Continue reading
Schooling is not the same as education education - it is sacred. Here it is commodified - twisted, manipulated, thrown away with every spit bubble lazily popping at your mouth, every glazed over look you give your teacher Continue reading
Sometimes when I write on this blog, I cite a problem or frustration in my life, then sort of summarize how I plan to handle my frustration. But there comes a time when all you can do is recognize that a problem exists; there’s not always a clear solution or way for individuals to handle it, and now is one of those times.
My friends and I are counting down the days until the first semester of senior year ends, until we can officially declare ourselves “second semester seniors.” Maybe then, I’ll be able to go on a proper vacation, because I haven’t gone on one in a few years, unless you count exhausting debate tournaments or college trips.
And the college process itself is brutal. I don’t hate colleges, I just abhor the process itself. The colleges themselves are merely wonderful institutions full of opportunities, but the process seems to have brought out the worst in all of us. It has torn families apart, it has stressed me out beyond belief, and it has scared me to death. Peers, who used to look out upon the world with wide and innocent eyes, now squint at the sun and scurry back inside to slave away at their homework (a little exaggeration, but that’s honestly what it feels like). My college counselor puts it simply: we are, but should try not to, sell our souls to the devil.
Is it too extreme to say that I no longer believe in altruism anymore? Maybe I’ve been feeling too pessimistic, but it seems like every service project, every volunteer opportunity, every leadership position has just become a row on a Common App, a check on a box, a mask for something to augment, to boost, to plump up someone’s college application.
A year ago, I wrote a post entitled “What It Means to Debate.” Looking back on what I had written, I still agree largely with what I had written. But alas, we are never stationary and that means that my opinion has changed, shifted, and accumulated much more knowledge and experience since when I last touched on the subject on policy debate as an activity.
8. The Novices.
They are the future of your debate team, the kids that will be seniors when you’re juniors in college, whose life courses you have the ability to influence depending whether you convince them with your charisma and behavior to stick with debate.
When you think about it, debate is what you make it and part of what you make it is demonstrated to others that join as weak freshmen and look to the seniors to see what they might look like one day. Continue reading
The overly obsessive with looks
When looks come to dominate everything else that I prioritize in life, I know that something is wrong. I never want to be so concerned with my outward appearance that my focus on this inevitably trades off with the quality of my inward appearance. I’ve said it before, and I shall say it again: these features are fleeting. You look great today, but shit happens: accidents, acne, puberty, and life. So if my bathroom were to ever be crowded with only bottles and sprays and combs and brushes and q-tips, someone slap me please.
The funniest is watching people grasp onto their fading beauty with desperate fingers, because the struggle represents his or her inability to accept an inevitable fate. I really do believe in the idea that the more makeup you cake on, the more you have to hide on the inside. The more you curl or straighten your hair, the more limp it is the next day. We are draining the life out of our bodies to try to fit unrealistic visions of beauty! I want to age gracefully.
The perpetually tired
I understand that part of being a high schooler is waking up grouchy and exhausted, but I desperately want some mornings when I’m genuinely happy to wake up. I want there to not always be days where laziness takes over and priorities are dropped without a thought. Whenever I go many days without proper sleep (like here at debate camp), the disastrous side effects snowball and overwhelm me; a crash is always imminent. I can’t stay awake and I’m forced to down cups of coffee and tea, and the acid from both corrodes my teeth. On the other hand, I’m normally not late or overly-jittery when I get a proper night of sleep.
I don’t want to become obsessed with technology, but I fear that I may be very far down this path already. I spend hours on my computer and my phone; of course, some of this time can be attributed to debate, but I definitely spend more time than is healthy. Additionally, I don’t feel comfortable if I don’t have access to it. I live off of wifi.
I would never allow myself to stay indoors all day and to develop eye, ear, and back problems because of both the overuse and misuse of technology, because none of those issues gives me a reason to live life…
The pure adult
I never want to lose some aspect of my childhood. I feel inspiration and nostalgia from flipping through old photos, and I experience pure happiness when I am confronted with something from my past – a TV show, a novel, or a journal. I don’t want to lose myself in the pressures of getting a job or starting a family or paying bills, and I want to preserve the beautiful period of my life that I appreciated so much.
The one who loses sight of the big picture
My friend once calmed me down about something stupid by playing the game of five. Will some issue matter in 5 days, months, and years? Personal crises virtually disappear when you remember that you have a life that spans more than the 4 years in high school, and that this too shall pass.
Friends are super important. Some you meet early in your life, and some you meet towards the close of a chapter, but what really matters is who stays in your life. People will inevitably leave. Those who stay are those who matter, and I never want to forget these people for others who just come and go. Those who come and go erupt into your life with a bang and leave just as suddenly, and at the end of the day, you will want someone to come and sit down with you in a cafe and talk about life, no pressure.
Specifically, this entails not letting others dictate your life. Your parents, your friends, your significant others and their opinions are not static, and neither are you. But when it comes to making big life decisions, it’s really important to realize that your big picture encompasses just you. If you take life just step by step and don’t create a least a general plan for what you want to make of yourself, then you’ve got nothing to look forward to and no framework to follow; the decisions and epiphanies that you make and experience today affect the person you will be tomorrow, as it pertains to education and occupation.
When I hear the word independence, I think first of a song by The Band Perry that I’ve always liked; one of the few country songs that I’ve ever enjoyed. The lyrics that I can recall by heart go something like:
Most of my friends will live and die in this zip code…
To me, it just sounds very honest, blatant, and depressing. Travel is one of the best ways to ways to expand your perspective, to overcome the limits of physical confines.
To never venture out of your zip code? *shudders*
The lyrics of the song bring to my attention the concept of college, more importantly, WHERE you decide to go to college. In some cases (but certainly not all cases), staying in-state for college represents a last-resort. It means that the state college is the most you think you can amount to, that you don’t have very big dreams for your future. Of course, if you were to live in a state with a wonderful college within its barriers, then obviously what I said before doesn’t really apply.
But in talking to lots of people, I found that this…belief is widespread. Friends have told me that they don’t want to go to the state college because they don’t want to be like the majority of people at their school, settling for the bare minimum.
Independence relies heavily on the degree of education a person receives. Regardless of whether you go to Princeton or Podunk U, as long as you go to a school that you BELIEVE to be selective and/or competitive, you are going in the right direction.
The way that the world operates today, the likelihood of someone amounting to great success without a sturdy education is quite low. Of course, we blow up and emphasize the cases that have made it big, but it’s important to keep a level head.
The key to approaching independence and education is balance. Education is very crucial to your development in the social, political, and economic world, but ultimately NOT the only important factor. If you somehow lose yourself or sell your soul to the devil in the process of amassing a strong educational foundation, you won’t be able to effectively utilize or appreciate the fruits of your strenuous labor.
So when it comes to independence, the lyrics of the country song are just one approach to the issue. Staying within your zipcode doesn’t necessarily say anything detrimental about the sort of education you are getting/going to get, but if you were never to travel outside the border in your lifetime, you’d be missing out on many life-changing experiences.