As you’ve probably gathered from the title, this will be my final post for the 2018-2019 school year. I stage manage for the Middle School show, Mulan, and tech week starts today. I also have five AP exams for which I need to prepare, two regular exams for which I need to study, and numerous other events and activities that fall at the typical end of the school year. Creating a blog this year has very much helped my mental state. However, I’m doing much better now. The medication I’m taking improved my perspective on life and my daily functioning. I don’t have a lot left to say right now, but I will continue blogging at the start of my senior year either about mental health, or about anything else which interests me. It depends on how I feel, on how I’m doing. And now, some short anecdotes and observations.
The other day, I went in the library bathroom. I stopped. Colorful sticky notes covered the mirror and the walls with uplifting messages like, “People love you!”, “Smile, beautiful,” and “You’re amazing.” And I started to cry a little. Just the simple, kind act of a student or a few students taking the time to write positive sticky notes and post them in a public place touched me. I think I have mentioned this in earlier posts, but everyone has problems. Everyone overcomes obstacles. I don’t know exactly why, but the fact that my peers recognized this essential part of humanity and acted to make a difference–even if it was small–in others’ lives comforted me.
Those sticky notes made me consider everyone else’s stories as they stumble through their lives. We see students opening classroom doors and sitting on comfy couches and shuffling to sports practices in clusters of friends. We see teachers bending over students’ papers and eating lunch together and shifting their children from one hip to another. We see parents dropping off their children on foggy Monday mornings and supporting the school at fundraisers and screaming for the school basketball team on Friday nights. We look at everyone, but what do we see? Because there’s a difference. Do we know an exhausted teacher struggles to balance his personal life (family, cooking, cleaning) with work (students, grading, meetings)? Do we know a student got a new puppy and this squirming creature has saved her from falling into a darkness so deep that she could never get out again? How do you look at people? What do you see? Do you look beyond the surface, beyond the polished or cracked glass that people choose to present? How do you distinguish reality from appearance?
Sometimes when I walk around campus, all the people around me blur together and the colors of their jackets and pants and socks and hair all meld into colorful streaks. It amazes me how little I and almost everyone else know about each other. But I guess we have designed our society that way, as individualists–protagonists of our own stories–while everyone else falls into the background as foils or the ensemble. We all walk or run or sprint or fall on slightly different paths, and the lessons we gain from this experience–if we apply them correctly–continuously transform us into better citizens. The problem is that failure devastates. Problems frazzle us. We want to throw our hands in the air, and say, “I’m just not good enough,” or “Nothing will ever get better,” or “Why do I have to go through this?” However, look at situations from a different perspective. Over the years, people have gifted me poetry books, and one of my favorites is by Vernon Law: Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson after. We learn from mistakes, but mistakes frustrate us, and it’s difficult to see the advantages of our downfalls. This is okay. With every “mistake” we make (however you choose to define a mistake), we change. We grow stronger. I know that I may sound so incredibly cheesy and you might be thinking “Oh my god Megan just stop being so cliché already!” But just because a saying is overused, just because I’m borrowing this idea from thousands of other people who have already thought this before me, already explained this concept to their friends and families and whoever would listen, doesn’t mean that my words aren’t a helpful reminder to you. And they may not be, because everyone is different. This is okay.
Finally, I want to touch on why persistence is so important, because no matter what you do, this forms an integral part of your character. A couple weekends ago, I went kayaking with my family. A gentle breeze glided past the water, and the sun’s warm rays kissed our skin as we dug our paddles into the deep sea supporting us. My parents are expert kayakers compared to my sister and me, so Allyson (my sister) and I stayed behind. Mostly, we were quiet or sang songs as we awkwardly tried to propel ourselves forward with the paddles. We laughed a lot. But in some moments, we talked about serious topics, about how we were doing. Naturally, we would focus on the social, academic, or emotional difficulties we were facing, because we don’t need to ameliorate the already-positive aspects of our lives. I summed up what I had learned from this school year: “Hey, Allyson, wanna hear my motto for this year??? When in doubt, keep going.” She scrunched up her nose and replied, “That’s a terrible motto. Mine would be: when in doubt, stop and reevaluate.” Well, we had two hours to kayak, and I thought a lot about what she said. My conclusion? True, determination is extremely important. But you have to pursue the right goals, you have to lead a meaningful life, and you are the only person who can determine what “meaningful” means. You can’t just barrel ahead immediately, because you might fall into the same traps set for you two weeks ago. So, I’ve changed my motto: When in doubt, stop. Reevaluate. But then, keep going.