Anti-prom rant

From my journal, dated May 11th 2012 (age 17)

Do you mind if I rant a little about this overrated Grade 12 social tradition called prom? My prom is in 9 days, on May 20th, and it’s all any of the Grade 12s talk about these days. What are you wearing? How much did it cost? How are you getting your hair done? Your makeup? Who’s going with whom and in which limo? ARGGG! So why aren’t I looking forward to this “momentous” occasion like the rest? Maybe it’s just to do with the fact that I don’t like social-y events in general. Especially not ones that you pay $125 for. It’s just so much trivial stress – so much pressure. Like, I like my dress and all (don’t tell anyone was only $15) but how can it live up to being “next to your wedding dress the most important garment you’ll ever wear”? And I swear I will scream if I have to listen to one more minute of girls talking all getting spray-tans and going on prom diets. ARG! Prom has made all of us, including myself, think so shallowly (is that a word?) and it frustrates me that we hold this event in such high regards just because society and American movies say we should. Can we just step back and look at the big picture for a second, please?

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Concert

From my journal, dated April 27th 2012 (age 17)

Did I tell you about the concert? Of course I didn’t, because I haven’t written in a while. For that, please forgive me. But about the concert. Last Saturday, my family and I went to see Coldplay. And it was SPECTACULAR. It might be partially because I have never been to a “real” concert before, but nevertheless it was amazing. At the beginning, I had no idea what to expect and I stood awkwardly, self-conscious. But soon, it’s hard to describe, but emotion took over me and the energy and noise and lights and the music – it’s like they were speaking directly to me, but simultaneously to 10,000 other people. As I’ve talked about earlier, it’s hard to remember a feeling, and I can’t remember what it felt like. However I remember thinking that I was completely happy, happier than I could remember. Sure I’ve been happy this year – laughing with friends, aceing my math test, at Sean’s party, for example, but it couldn’t compare to the absolute joy I felt that night. At the end of the concert my dad jokingly questioned whether or not he would ever regain his hearing, and I remember thinking I don’t even care if I’ve gone deaf. I would trade it all for that night. Now, of course, looking back, I was perhaps a little melodramatic, but still, if only you could have been there…

On another completely unrelated note: I think I may have found my dream. I didn’t learn about it until recently because it is a dream that was buried so deep inside me, because even my subconscious knew how unrealistic it is. So my dream, a dream so big I couldn’t even admit it to myself, is to become a writer. Probably novelist. I mean it make sense because I’ve always loved reading and always had fancy thoughts in my head, but I never thought I was creative enough. I still don’t think I am. I feel I would be okay at describing a scene or a character, but I know I would be absolutely hopeless at thinking of an interesting, complex, and engaging plot. Regardless, I have now vowed to start writing more, so hopefully I will make some more progress in filling the pages of this journal. The future glistens with possibilities…

Milestones

From my journal, dated April 5th 2012 (age 17)

So last Saturday my parents let me do something I didn’t think they’d let me do. They let me attend a co-ed, unsupervised, party / sleepover, in W__town, with people they don’t know. It was awesome. There were 13-ish of us, 8 guys and 5 girls (including Alice and I). So we hung out and it was great (I even tried some Bailey’s…yum!). And there’s this boy, Caleb, that Alice has been trying to set me up with for like forever. And I may or may not have been flirting with him and I don’t know if I just like him or like like him or want to like him because no boy’s ever been interested in me before. I should also mention the sleeping arrangements got messed up and I ended up sleeping in the attic with him… alone. Awkward. But don’t worry, there were two beds and we just went straight to sleep.

Anyways, since the party we’ve been texting most days. Not about anything interesting.. but still. Anyways I thought I should write this all down because it is a milestone in my life and I’m very nervous and excited and afraid. Not like anything very long-term could be started because he’s going to Dartmouth and I’m going to U of O… Wait! I didn’t tell you that I’m going to U of O. I am telling you it now, because it too is a Major Event in my life. Man, when at the start of this journal I said it would be a year full of changes, I wasn’t kidding. Will keep you posted. Going tomorrow with my family to go shopping in Portland and hopefully find a prom dress. (Do I need 2 if Caleb ask me to his prom?) But I’m getting ahead of myself. Who knows what tomorrow will bring…

Equations for living in the real world

From my journal dated March 29, 2012 (age 17)

So I clearly suck at keeping up with this journal. However, in my defense I was away the last two weeks in Ecuador for spring break, which was awesome. Nevertheless, I’m always amazed at how quickly my life returns to “normal” after an amazing and eye-opening trip. It happened with Japan, with Vietnam, and now with Ecuador. When I’m away I’m blown away at the hugeness of our world and at the insignificance of my personal problems, especially when they are compared to the much greater struggles of people less fortunate than myself. But back here, I’m once again sucked into my little microcosm or bubble that is my life.

Anyways, so that wasn’t actually the topic I had in mind for this entry. Today in English class, we were discussing the last lines of The Great Gatsby: “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch our arms further… And one fine morning – so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past (p. 171-172). Ms. T then said that we, as Grade 12s were about to go out into “the real world” where one is constantly fighting the current. And she said that “there are some pretty strong currents out there.” Coincidentally, as she was saying this, Stephanie and Frank were in the computer lab, receiving rejection letters from American universities.

What Ms. T said scared me, it really did. If the future is an uphill battle, all the time, how can it be worth it? I think I’m most afraid of not being strong enough. I mean, I’ve received multiple heart-shattering disappointments, but even then, I’ve been protected. I’ve had my parents, my academic and other successes, and my stable high school life. I’m not ready to fight alone.

So the “real” world is harsh, and from what I can make out, from here in my sheltered bay, there are two key qualities that one needs to succeed, or at least, to fight the current. The first, and the most important, is courage. A person needs courage to not give up when they encounter setbacks (which I understand there are numerous in “the real world”). Courage is also needed to strive for goals and dreams. I do this to an extent, but I rely mostly on my parents to tell me that my goal is worth pursuing; alone it will be harder. Finally, courage is needed to speak up and to stand up for what is right. No explanation required.

The second quality of which I speak is self-control. With too much courage, a person becomes arrogant, so self-control is needed to balance out this equation. Self-control is important mainly for practical purposes; to not squander your money, become a glutton, or procrastinate. Mr. H read us a study which found that over many other qualities such as kindness and intelligence, self-control in a child was the quality the most reflecting of how successful the child would become.

So if you do not wish to drown in the turbulent waters of the real world, I would advise you to get yourself some courage, like the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, and practice self control, so to not overindulge. But really, these are simply guesses because I have not yet fought in the “real world”.

Upon reflection, I feel that my formula stated above (courage + self-control) isn’t complete. It is a formula on how to SURVIVE. If it is to be a formula to LIVE, it is missing one thing: COMPASSION. A few years ago, I heard the Dalai Lama speak and I didn’t understand much of what he was saying because his accent, but he emphasized the need for compassion in today’s world. I also read something recently that I’ve been thinking a lot about: that, according to someone, there are only 2 emotions: love and fear. The more I think about it, the more I realize how true that is.

Family Secrets

From my journal, dated February 11, 2012 (age 17)

Did I tell you that Nona died? It was really sad, but she’d been “sick” a long time so it wasn’t really a shock. We went to the island for a weekend and had a memorial at Auntie Fiona’s house. A lot of people came. We sung “Land of the Silver Birch” and “Simple Gifts” which are both beautiful songs. Two of my favorites. And Auntie Jamie sung a BEAUTIFUL Welsh lullaby and it made me cry. People also took turns sharing memories, and it made me think of my memories Nona… which I found were amazingly few, and hard to remember. I couldn’t really believe it, I mean, Nona couldn’t have been “sick” for more than 2-2.5 years, and I still would have been decently old enough to remember stuff. And we went to the island often enough, usually 2-3 times a year. Maybe it’s because Nona and I were both quiet and never really talked. I don’t know.

What was also really interesting about the gathering at Auntie Fiona’s place was that all of my dad’s step-siblings were there and I learnt a lot about the history of the Bauer and Keenan families and how “the divorce” came to be and how it affected them as kids.

From what I understand, two families live down the street from one another. The kids hang out with each other, have crushes on one another, etc. and the moms are very close. The two marriages, especially the Bauer one, gets “rocky,” the Keenan family has a car crash, and then D and D get divorces, and marry each other, and all back in the 1960s. I mean the story has scandal written all over it, and I’m sure I haven’t even heard all the details.

I guess I never really realized how close my family is to the Keenans. I mean, the kids were practically siblings from the time my dad was 10.

I guess I learnt that no family is what it seems to be, and that no family is ordinary. I gained a new perspective for sure… The next thing to learn about now is my mom’s first marriage…

Emotional Honesty

From my journal, dated January 23, 2012 (age 17)

Why can’t we always say what we want? There are a million things I would like to say to different people. Yet I don’t dare. I’m terrified, of what, I don’t know. Of revealing myself I guess.

Today I was working on my scholarship essays, and it’s amazing how much I don’t tell. It’s not judgment from the scholarship judges I’m worried about, because I know I’ll never meet them. I know, though, that before I send these essays in, my dad and maybe my mom will read them: my harshest critics. It’s sad that there’s no one I feel comfortable enough with to express my deepest and truest feelings.

I’m so used to keeping my guard up, that I don’t realize it at all, until it’s down. Sometimes, after a particular conversation or event, I get this strange dreadful feeling: the feeling of “I just opened up too much and I just revealed too much about myself.” And the more I think about it, the more I hate myself for feeling this way.

The closest I’ve come to letting my true self show is on my sailing trips. I’m different on the ship; more free and also more vulnerable. More than once, Skipper has asked us: “Why is it that life back at home seems so ‘watered-down’ compared to life here on the boat?” I have asked myself this over and over again, and I still have no answer. Maybe because there is, or seems to be, so much last judgment there than “in the real world.”

I wonder why I don’t even have the courage to say “I love you” to my parents.

Maybe one day I’ll find someone to whom I can tell everything. But right now, I can’t even imagine it, and this journal is as close as I can get.

PS. I’ll try it tonight. I’ll try to say “I love you” to my mom. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Remembering

From my journal, dated January 20, 2012 (age 17)

So it’s been around two weeks since I last wrote. A lot has happened, but at the same time, not much has happened at all. Our school went on our annual ski trip – my last one. It was loads of fun and a little sad. It’s scary that it’s already fading in my memory, and I’m scared of forgetting. I feel that I am, for the first time, at an age where I can begin to look back on my life. Before, my life was always ahead – yet to come. But now I feel that a part of my life is over and looking back on it I don’t remember as much as I would like.

Last November I returned to my elementary school for the first time. It brought back so many memories, and I wasn’t so much puzzled that I’d forgotten the once familiar objects and events, but that I forgotten what it felt like back then. I don’t remember the joy of a birthday, of a good grade, or of a surprise. And I don’t remember the awe of childhood. I guess I’m a very emotional person, and memories to me are nothing without feeling. For example, sometimes when I’m reading I can’t really “get into” a certain book because I’m too focused on trying to figure out what the character is feeling and what I should be feeling at the moment. Someone once said to me: “You have the ability to feel things deeply. That’s not a bad thing.” At the time I didn’t realize how true that was, the first part I mean.

I also wonder if I think too much. Do others think as much as I do? I guess we’ll never know… My mind is both my best friend and my worst enemy.