Reflections on High School

15 Aug 2016

This is my first blog post in a while. In that while, I’ve graduated high school, played way too much Overwatch, and haven’t interacted with anyone my age ever since school ended. Basically I’ve been a total shut-in and got absorbed into the horribleness of hikikomori lifestyle. I more or less have the same schedule every day: wake up around 9 or 10, watch YouTube videos or anime until lunch, eat, come back, watch more videos or anime until dinner, eat dinner, then play Overwatch until I fall asleep.

But in all that time, as expected, I got really bored. Whether it be that I wasn’t in the mood for videos, it was way too hot/humid to do anything, or whatever. I spent most of my time in the land of boredom thinking about (brace yourself for the epitome of corny topics)… life. This happened more when I rewatched the anime Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo. For those that haven’t watched the show, will not watch the show (due to an aversion to anime because of stereotypes), or just want a tl;dr, here’s… a not-so-short tl;dr:

A boy named Sorata attending an arts school finds himself in a dorm where there are several eccentric people. In the midst of prodigies, he finds himself conflicted: congratulating his friends on their achievements, while he fails to achieve his own dreams.

The story is more or less a tale of life’s inherent inequality: those with talent soaring through the top without even realizing it, and those without talent giving it their all to make an attempt to catch up. The life of one of the characters, Aoyama, really stood out to me: basically she always gets the short end of the stick. Basic rundown: She runs away from home after her dad rejects the idea of her becoming a voice actress, and she lives alone, working countless jobs to pay tuition for both school, voice acting classes, rent, and food. At one point, right before an important audition, she ends up overworking herself, and due to a lack of sleep and physical exhaustion, she gets really sick. She ends up going to the audition anyway, and because of her condition, she fails, but also ends up causing her entire group to fail, causing her group to lash out her. After 2 years of taking classes, she has another audition that will determine whether or not she can make it into an agency, but she ends up getting rejected again.

This brings me to my question: If you work your life away, trying to make your dreams come true, but you fail in the end, is all that effort a waste?

“You know, with talented people… They draw people to themselves, and without even trying to, they tear them to shreds. The closer you are to them, the more viciously you’ll be torn apart. They’re living in a completely different world above us. One that us normal people can’t reach. In a world that we’ll never see. A world above the clouds. That’s the kind of world they live in.” - Mitaka Jin (Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo)

Stuy was a place like this. At Stuyvesant, there are 3 kinds of people: those who have great achievements and continue making them, those that have resigned themselves to the fact that they will never be truly outstanding and do amazing things with what they have, and those in between: the people who find themselves below the elites, but have the strive to persevere and break into the top. Without doubt, the class of 2016 was filled with those from the first category: there were math geniuses, published authors, Rubik’s Cube record holders, Olympic athlete contenders, brilliant and talented engineers and innovators, the list goes on.

I’m not going to lie here, and I don’t think I’m alone either: I went into Stuy thinking I was going to be one of those people. I was one of those who went in with the illusion that “I will be the top 1%. I am Ivy-Bound. I am clearly infallible.” Who am I kidding, I wasn’t even at the top in middle school either. But I felt like I could push myself just a bit more and break into that upper echelon. In the beginning of freshman year, I felt like I could do it: I made the Soph-Frosh A Math Team, I felt like I was doing decently well in my classes, I was studying hard every day, etc.

And then I began to notice. I did decently well on tests: didn’t dip below 90, blah blah blah. But there were people who never dipped below 95. Or 97. Or even 100. I kept trying harder and harder, but still I could never match those. It happened even more in Sophomore year. And it was then, when I learned the pain of comforting a friend who was crying over an 85, while balling up a crumpled paper that said 62 on it.

I have no doubt that those who are consistently at the top work extremely hard for it. I have no doubt that they are extremely intelligent people. But I couldn’t help thinking: What am I doing wrong? Why isn’t it me?

“Being able to realize your own fault is a virtue.” - Akasaka Ryuunosuke (Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo)

I honestly don’t think I’m particularly smart. I don’t think I’m cut out for the elite bunch. I procrastinate. I’m on Facebook maybe just a tad too much. I spend a bit more time than I should on video games. But even still: it’s my fault. It’s my own decision to spend the time playing League of Legends rather than studying for a history exam. If I make that decision, I should be ready for the consequences.

My advice to those entering Stuy, those entering a community like Stuy, and just people in general, is not “Don’t procrastinate.” It’s not “Don’t strive for the best because you won’t get there.” It’s not even “Manage your time well, and balance leisure and work.” I won’t give you advice on how to “Get to the top in 5 easy steps!” or “How to ace every exam with just 8 simple tips!”

It’s difficult to give advice to a Stuy student, because everyone at Stuy is different. Advice for one person may sound like an idiot’s ramblings to another. But this piece of advice applies to everyone: Learn how to analyze your own failures.

A person’s true colors aren’t seen in their highs, but rather their lows. If and when you fail, reflect on what you did, but most importantly, why something happened the way it did. How you come up with a conclusion is entirely up to you.

Another piece of advice: You set the bar for yourself. Not anyone else. It’s up to you determine whether you succeeded or failed, or something in between.

“It’s only obvious that the world is a cruel place. If you can’t change the world, then you have to change yourself.” - Tatsumi (Death Parade)

Yes, like I said before, life is inherently unequal. Where you were born, your race, your gender, your family, and even your experiences up until now: none of that can be changed. This leads me to my clumsily worded last piece of advice:

You are the accumulation that is your body, your thoughts, and your experiences. The four years I had at Stuy were the 4 worst years of my life (not really, every year is pretty bad), but also the best (so far? Definitely.). I cried a lot. I was hurt a lot. I gave up and lost motivation for a lot of things, especially seeing those around me so far ahead of me. I lost a lot of sleep. I lost a lot of time, still failing even though I tried my hardest. But I also had the biggest smiles of my life at Stuy.

Stuyvesant is a unique place: you have people from everywhere, of all different skill sets and skill levels, of all different backgrounds, all grouped up in one place. Make friends. Make new experiences. They might hurt you. They might make you smile. But the experiences you make at Stuy will make you who you will be for the rest of your life.

Make those 4 years count. Real last piece of advice:

“No regrets”