Say What I Want, Do As I Please

Hello there! My name is Melinda, nice to meet you.

Well that was certainly a different greeting than how most people would start off their blog post. But try this one.

How are you doing? My name is Phuong, nice to meet you.

You probably had to stop and wonder how that name is pronounced and by the time you have a clue on how to say this one syllable name, you’re not even paying attention to me. First and foremost, both of the names mentioned are my names, I was born as Phuong but from fifth grade onward, many people know me as Melinda. It is very likely that you are confused how this would correlate in any shape or form to my title-which foreshadows that I will talk about language (words) and actions. What we say and HOW we translate it across are all based on our responses to the judgments that we receive, and of course, the names given to us from our parents hold a very dear and personal value to us-it is the FIRST thing that people will scoff at and judge. A short story called “The F Word” by Firoozeh Dumas is one that I can relate to the most. She talked about the different ways people would react to her when she used her unique Iranian name, “Firoozeh”, which means Turqoise in Farsi, versus her American name, Julie.

As Phuong, many peers didn’t seem to pay attention to me as much, I was simply another “FOB”-meaning fresh off the boat- and wasn’t cool enough to hang out with them. The more embarrassed I became about my own identity, the more reserved and resentful I became. I started to dress with the trend and talked with slangs…all these efforts to be more “Americanized”. In reality, my actions really couldn’t hide my culture and how I am, the real me. But that’s not to say I don’t like being Melinda because I really do. The name is elegant and on the plus side, no one really knows a Melinda so I always feel special that I’m not just another Asian “Michelle” or “Jennifer”.

And that was my answer to my first question: What purpose does expressing yourself with words serve?

The first form of self-expression is through your name because not only is it unique to you and only you (ok, maybe with the rest of the 100,000 other people), but a stranger can have a sense of your culture and be able to know you that way. You live your WHOLE life under that one name and it is your job to feel comfortable and grow into that name. Once you are sure of who you are, all your actions and words will follow through beautifully. But above that, we express because we want companionship in others, we want to share a part of ourselves, to connect, to feel, to love.

In Catcher in the Rye, language is Holden Caulfield’s weapon. It is all he really knows. But once you master something, you are rather weak in another area, and Holden’s weakness is his inability to express himself through actions. Why does he struggles so much? All his problems started because he is already an insecure individual who has a hard time coping with a brother’s death and the idea of growing up. When you embrace reality, the world is not that complicated. Your life up until this point has been cultivated through your decisions, which was based off of your emotions, and under all that emotions is insecurity. Throughout the book, Holden brings up Jane, a girl he has been crushing on forever, to a lot of his acquaintances but he never really goes out of his way (and be a man for that matter) and show Jane that he cares through real actions even though Holden is clearly frustrated, both mentally and sexually. To Stradlater, Holden holds back a lot about his feelings because he doesn’t want to seem desperate. Why is it so hard for people to say what they mean? Simple. Steven Pinker, author of “Words Don’t Mean What They Mean”, explained that when you converse with someone, number one, you are trying to convey a message and ALSO “continue to negotioate that relationship”. Holden simply wanted to seem like the “bad boy” who wouldn’t cry over a girl to Stradlater.

Through my experiences and from reading this book, I learned that you should just live life. Tell the world what you want to say, regardless if others disagree, and do what scares you the most. Until then, you are not truly living.

fly free

Soar above your struggles. (not my pic)

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To be or not to be…

A virgin. Now that I am finishing up 11th grade and everyone is slowing “growing up”, I am starting to feel like Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye. I mean, I’m totally okay with the fact that I’ve never had a boyfriend or anything. I even had my first kiss last March, although the kiss wasn’t anything super special because I only knew the guy for a week. On the inside, I was really glad the “first kiss” was over. Now people would think I’m more mature right? People just assume that if you’ve done something physically intimate with someone, that they are automatically older than you mentally and better than you. I know a lot of people who aren’t virgins anymore. And it’s their business and their choices and their bodies, so I try not to focus on the fact that they’re still under 18. Actually, that’s all I really focus on.

I know there’s no time limit on when you can find love. But what most teenagers feel is just passionate lust. It isn’t love…and that’s probably why I feel really uncomfortable when people would just give it up to ANYBODY at the moment. In Catcher in the Rye, Holden explained that he can’t “get sexy” with somebody he doesn’t know that well, therefore, he refuses to lose his virginity to that one prostitute. The person he really cares about is Jane, and if he had a choice, he would gladly be passionate and intimate with her. I used to hear, and still do, that people eventually lost their virginity ,or feel the need to lose it, is just because of wanting to keep up with the status quo, the bandwagon. Every time I hear that, I frown in disbelief, “If you decide to do something because your peers are doing it, you are stupid.” But now…I sometimes feel like time is running out for me to lose the V card, which is entirely irrational because I’m only 17. Being a teen is hard because you’re torn between not feeling good enough about yourself in terms of grades, a social life, and not being able to get into a relationship. All these emotions-jealousy, angry, anxious, and depressed are dumped on your head and somehow you have to clean it all up and get past it.

I realized virginity is a very personal thing and should be held on until you are with the right person (doesn’t have to be until marriage) and you feel at ease, doesn’t matter about how OTHERS feel when you are ready. But unexpected consequences will be there if you are not careful.

Have control over your own life.  (Not my pic)

Have control over your own life.
(Not my pic)

So Close, Yet So Far

After going through three weeks of May, the hardest part is finally over: AP tests. For me, I felt like I did the best that I could and I don’t think I would go back and change anything (maybe after I check my scores in July). Back in middle school at this time, we were doing absolutely nothing and I really missed that. Not because I’m THAT lazy to do a bit more work but I just think we’ve done ENOUGH work for the year (hello AP US History), do some FUN activities and wrap up the year.

Have you ever ran a mile and felt like it was never going to end? This is me. I’m at this point where I’m burnt out and all my creativity is slowing oozing out its last juices. There are exactly 13 slow, painful days of school. I’m not saying it like I won’t miss my friends and peers and teachers, but let’s just say I can do without them for a while. So many things went on for April and May, both physically, intellectually, and emotionally, that I didn’t have much time to preserve some precious time for myself. Too many things to see, to watch, and to hear. Yet not enough time. When was the last time I laid down and read a book I really enjoyed? When was the last time I could slept at 10 pm and woke up at 8AM? When was the last time I could last without a nap after school? When was the last time that school didn’t keep me up until 1AM? Although these were certainly tougher times of school, I must admit that I have it a LOT easier than most of my peers who are way more involved than I am. But we all put a lot of efforts into our work, so regardless everyone should receive the same credits.

The reason why I’m really excited for school to be over is because I’m looking forward to the future: summer and Senior year! I realized how much I can’t remember about the summer lifestyle. The laidback schedule, the spontaneous adventures, but also the occasional boring days where Netflix is your friend. But I think that’s part of any life cycle-that fun nights will fill you up but the dull days will have you appreciate the times when you are enjoying yourselves.

Prom: That One Night (That I had no stress)

Prom: That One Night (That I had no stress)

Uncomfortable Success

Every year around May, high school students are going CRAZY. We are not sane people at this emotional roller coaster segment of the semester. Since high school started, I don’t remember a year where it wasn’t busy, stressful, UNCOMFORTABLE, uneasy, and an emotional wreck around this month. But I do remember that, no matter how hard or nervous I feel, I should learn to accept the results because I tried my best, regardless if it turned out as a failure, a semi-success, or a definite success (But knowing summer is RIGHT around the corner doesn’t hurt either!!!). Also, one failure..or two..will not define your future either!

What goes down around May is usually this:

  1. AP classes are winding down (or speeding up!) to their last chapters. Students are still in their Spring Break slumber so coming right back from break is not an easy task. Most of us should’ve started studying for the AP exam during Spring break…but who actually succeeded in doing that honestly? I had an APUSH test the following Monday I returned from break, so already my rollercoaster is going straight down with full force. Like I said before, after classes are finished with their curriculum, it’s time to review this sh!t..which really only leave two weeks of studying before the actual day of the test. Considering it’s history and there’s a LOT that goes on AND most of us didn’t review over break…no one is relaxing at ALL. Also, the way we’re reviewing our material is by splitting up into nine groups (this isn’t a “project” really, but if there’s presenting of any sort, it’s a group project to me).
  2. Magically around this time, good ole GROUP projects start popping up! The timing is almost too perfect right now. I have a “Job Fair” group project for Spanish. A two-ish minute presentation on Tuesday comin’ up.
  3. Normal tests from normal classes. Thankfully since I am in a normal Precalculus class, I am chillin’ with a 99.4% and I cANNOT express how great it is to not stress over math. Amen to my amazing teacher. However, I do have chem to care for and you can’t tell me chemistry is easy. Right now, I am struggling with a 86.2% and I am praying to the gods that maybe..just maybe the FINAL will be a piece of cake so that I will magically pass with an A in the class, not that I would cry if I get a B in the class though.
  4. Art- This class is literally “arts and crafts” at this point..but TIME CONSUMING arts and crafts. So now I ALSO have to spend a small portion trying to catch up. We’re doing Piet Mondrian inspired collage.

If I look at this list, it isn’t THAT crazy, but this isn’t over a long span of time, it’s ALL in the span of 2-3 weeks. I am already a nervous person as it is because I sort of fear failure. To be honest, I hate the nature of the AP tests, which is why I get nervous and uncomfortable before I take it. First of all, why does it cost so much? Personally, because I know I’m paying this amount of money for a single test, I feel pressured to do well. I’m not rich (although I will be later on) so it’s sort of a burden on me. Secondly, why is the test SO long???? Sitting to do a test that long is basically trying to kill someone, me specifically. The test is on average about three hours. Lastly, it should just be a “passed or failed” thing. Like really, does it matter if someone gets a 1 or 2? They still failed regardless. Plus, it only makes that person feel worse.

Collegeboard needs to chill out..so that I could chill out too.

Logical way of curing your stress.  Photo @2007 by K. Latham (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Logical way of curing your stress.
Photo @2007 by K. Latham (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Expired Friendships

I once believed that any people I made friends with would stay with me forever. The first friend that I had was in Vietnam, when I was in first grade. That friendship ended abruptly because I had to move to California, but we weren’t close enough for me to feel sad about it. To be honest, I wasn’t close with anyone in elementary school except with three people. When we all entered middle school, one of the girls went to a different school so naturally we grew apart, although I would catch up with her occasionally over email (old school, I know). At the end of middle school, I was close with two of the girls that I knew from elementary school and one new girl, X, Y, and Z. At that point in life, I thought, “This is it. These are going to be my bestest friends until I die.”

Little did I know, high school would change that. In freshman year, X, Y and I were in the same high school. We had a blast and a lot of jokes in freshman year and everything was pretty stable. By sophomore year, I had to leave X and Y, however, I get to join Z. We barely texted or caught up with each other in freshman year so I thought this would be a perfect time to rekindle this friendship. At the beginning of sophomore year, we hung out during lunch but we didn’t have any classes together so naturally I started eating lunch with my cousin and/or study during lunch in the bathroom, which I didn’t mind really. Sophomore year was just a really uneventful and depressing year to be honest. I also rarely talked to X or Y, and now I was drifting from Z.

But junior year is going to be different, or so I thought, for a good few months! By the summer of sophomore year I was talking to X a lot and as usual, we always joked and laughed and gossiped, like all normal teenagers. The first two months of school we hung out a total of five times and I was so happy that we got to share and make memories rather than reminiscing about freshman year, which by now, is like a light year away. However, from November to January, X wasn’t texting me as much and even when X did, the conversations were quite weird. I knew X’s parents were getting a divorce, but I still felt being thrown out of the loop as X never really mentioned any details, to which I guess I could understand, but you have to know that we’ve been friends for seven years. In January, we finally hung out at a school sports event and X told me we needed to hang out every time there was a home game. I was obviously excited…until I realized that that was never going to happen. For 5 weeks straight after that, every time I asked, X would come up with excuses-real situations or not- X never carried out those promises and I was angry,internally. I didn’t want to call X out for that because X’s dad was my ride and I didn’t want to seem rude or anything.

Two months after that, we finally hung out, once in March and another time at X’s house. Things were going good until X decided to be with this guy, who I never approved of. Just going by looks, he seems sketchy and he smokes. X would tell Y and I some of their private things and every time, I said I didn’t care because I just don’t like the guy. Usually X wouldn’t care, but this time around, X started dismissing my thoughts and simply just said “I’m maturing”.

So I guess I’m ALSO maturing by slowly breaking ties with X. Recently last week, I’ve been deleting X’s messages and other social medias. It might seem petty, but I don’t feel like wasting any more of my time with a “friend” who doesn’t really have my best interest in their mind. Seven years mean absolutely nothing anyway, because we had already drifted in sophomore year. I don’t think I care to “talk it out” with X. To me, it’s not worth communicating with someone who just doesn’t have the same mindset or goals as you do. So, I guess the moral of this post is to go and open your eyes. See who will be there for you and will care for your opinions, because that mean that you are significant enough in their life for them to listen to you and care for what YOU have to say.

“Some people come in your life as blessings. Some come in your life as lessons”

Only the ones that stay matter.

Only the ones that stay matter.

[Photo@2005 by Hotrodhomepage (CC BY 2.0)]

It Happened Twice

Last Sunday when I wrote a blog post, it was about me losing my precious glasses for two periods of class but eventually I found them during lunch. It was no big deal…UNTIL IT HAPPENED AGAIN exactly A WEEK apart from each other, on Monday, March 23.

However, this time it was different. I had my glasses with me all throughout the day and wore them pretty much the whole day, except for my sixth period, my Art 1 class. It wasn’t until 7 P.M at night that I realized I needed some clarity in my life. My first thought was “OH SHXT. I’M AT HOME. MY GLASSES ARE TRAPPED SOMEWHERE IN SCHOOL RIGHT NOW..HOW MANY ACRES IS THE SCHOOL ANYWAY???!” I went into that stage of denial and reassurance over and over again. Now, I wasn’t that afraid mainly because the class I needed the glasses the most, my Precalculus class, we were having a test the next day so I knew I would survive an extra day. And then it was Wednesday…I knew I wasn’t going to be able to see the board anyway so after I got the first slide of Math notes down I was going to just doodle and do Spanish homework or SOMETHING to keep me busy and not so suspicious looking. And then it was Thursday…nothing changed that day until I arrived at my fifth period.

My history teacher asked if this pair of red glasses belonged to anyone in the class…OK right off the bat I knew it was mine, I mean who would go two and a half days without their glasses but me? For a split second I was going to confidently raise my hand and say it was mine…but I realized I couldn’t even see correctly if it was my glasses (HOW IRONIC) so I lowered my hand and said “Um..I think they’re mine..but I mean, I can’t see anything right now”, the whole class chuckled at that comment.

Being superstitious and everything, I felt like losing my glasses was a life lesson. I mean, honestly, if it wasn’t then how did I find my way back to it the second time? When you have your perfect vision, enhanced by glasses or not, you see the world and the people around you better. You start to focus more on the appearance and start to lose that real connection with someone, just because you don’t find them as attractive. Secondly, you listen better. The three days that I was without my glasses, I felt like I was able to relax and not get so caught up with everything that was going on around me. Life can be perfect even if your vision might not be.

There is beauty in the unclear. Photo@ 2012 by EladeManu (CC BY 2.0)

There is beauty in the unclear.
Photo@ 2012 by EladeManu (CC BY 2.0)

Close Your Eyes and Listen

On Monday (3/16), as I sat down comfortably in third period waiting to do the warm-up problems for Spanish class, I realized my glasses was GONE. Out of MIND and out of SIGHT (literally). After the first time you can’t find something you need, you proceed to go into this pre-panic zone and dig frantically to find what you need. When that one thing does not appear the second time, this is it, you are planning out all of these scenarios and one thing leads to the next and before you know it, the final scenario is of you and maybe your dog, out on the streets, homeless. I don’t know about you but I’ve thought of this plenty.

I was getting worried on how I was going to survive the rest of the class, much less the rest of the school hours. Thankfully on that day, we did mostly worksheets so thank you God, I survived. Now onto the most important class, Precalculus. For some reasons, I didn’t want to bother anyone and have to ask to move seats just so I could see, so I really did what you might’ve thought I’ve done: I sat there the entire time pretending to write down notes, but really I was just writing about how I can’t see anything in sight. Reading the board without your glasses is like trying to read Morse code and finding a needle in a haystack. It’s not recommended!!!

Eventually I decided to try my best and just…LISTEN. I listened really hard to what my teacher was saying. Surprisingly I was able to get through a few examples. Another class done…now I’m STILL panicking. I needed to find this glasses because, okay, I might survive today, but the rest of the week is going to be HELL.

So during lunch I traced myself back to my second period. My first instinct was to look in the trash can just in case I threw away the glasses as I dumped out my Cheetos bag. Again, thankfully I didn’t do that.

I walked towards my desk and looked beneath my table. IT IS HERE!!! I am saved. I couldn’t be happier. The world is lookin’ perfect in these glasses. My vision is 20/20…and those cute boys over there look 10/10.

Moral of the story: don’t take your senses for granted…and listen more.

Photo @2012 by marine_corps (CC BY-NC 2.0)

How I feel without glasses. Photo @2012 by marine_corps (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Riding Your Fears

There was a woman who committed suicide because she was scared of being single and lonely when she turned 30 years old. The world is constantly in the dark being repressed by irrational fears. I mean, not all fears are created equal. Some are childish and somewhat cute, like being scared of bugs or height, but fears can turn deadly when the cause is internal and not external. I think it’s extremely important that you conquer your external fears, because once you do, you will realize that you are fearless and can achieve anything.

I had successfully conquered my fear of ROLLER COASTERS yesterday on March 14, 2015 (or PI DAY).

As a child, I remember I hated the Dragon Swing the most and even the most gentle baby rides I was on, I cried at least twice (I was at least five years old). I don’t recall ever being on any rides after that until I was in eighth grade for Physics Day at Knotts Berry Farm. I was so scared after seeing big rides like Supreme Scream and Ghost Rider. My friends didn’t want to go on them and I didn’t either, but we still enjoyed Knotts the rest of the day by eating and riding in bumper cars! That same year I went again with my cousins and my aunt.

Again, we still played it really safe and got on rides like Silver Bullet and Jaguar and the highest thrill ride we got on was Supreme Scream. My aunt was so winded after Montezooma’s Revenge that she even vomited afterwards. Then we walked around the Board Walk and I really wanted to get rid of my fears and ride the bigger ones but NO one wanted to do it with me and I was just too scared at the time to do it by myself. And I guess here is the right place to stop and remind you that regardless if it’s about conquering your fears or having a group of friends, you have to find the right people to help you through tough times. In that current situation where I really wanted to be BIGGER than my fears, I couldn’t do it because the people who were with me were the wrong to help me conquer my fear of roller coasters. You wouldn’t bring a deaf person to go a concert with you, would you?

I knew yesterday would be different from all the times I have been to Knotts. When I was in line for Boomerang and Xcelerator I was TERRIFIED. I’m talking I could easily bust out  two Hail Mary and maybe do 20 pushups and jog a lap around Knotts. The knotts in your stomach only tightens up the closer you get- BUT WHEN THE RIDE FINALLY TAKES OFF…you feel like you’re soaring…and the sun is blinding your sight but you don’t really care…because everything is good and everything is well…in that split second you look over to your friend and sees that they’re really enjoy the same thing you do makes the experience ten times better. Maybe falling in love with someone isn’t that much far off.

If it's scary, paint that sh*t pink.

If it’s scary, paint that sh*t pink.

Spring Forward!

Daylight Time Savings finally happened, which means…spring is on the way!! I am so excited for this time change because living in the dark at 5 PM is tragic and waking up to an overcast sky is sad.

Here’s the thing: waking up early at 7AM is not for me. I mean obviously if it’s not a school day and I’m actually going somewhere exciting, I’m all for it, but if it’s for exercising or going to school, I am O-U-T. No matter how early I sleep, my body would feel terrible at 7AM, my eyes won’t budge open, and my senses are still floating around. 7 AM is the devil hour to me. But there’s something really beautiful about the morning when you’re at school at 6:40 AM during the fall Daylight Time Saving where everything is dark and there might be at most ten students walking around school, you feel so calm just basking in the fog of the morning, breathing in the freshest air out there because the ever so green trees have replenished the air. Just being there when no one is around, it feels nice because you have a new perspective. I felt married to the place because I was there at its worst (overly crowded) and there at its best (empty all around). I saw the changes when the sun rose and a line of people started pooling into the school. But that’s the story of 6 AM, groggy but peaceful.

As you can tell, I am no morning person. If I ever say that I am a morning person, I mean at least 9:30 AM or 10 AM even. I loved the mornings in Vietnam when the six year old me would wake up, smiling usually because I knew my dad was finally back for a visit from the U.S, that’s when I felt the most grateful. The air was chilly as it graced past my skin but within minutes of waking up the morning sun ascended into the sky and blessed me with its delightfully warm rays. Nothing is better than waking up to the smell of dark coffee grind and a touch of cigarette, my dad’s two favorite things in the morning. Fun fact, when I was in the womb my mother craved the smell of cigarettes…terrible for pregnant ladies to smell first of all, but I guess that couldn’t kill me. I guess that’s how I’ve grown to love smelling a touch of cigarettes in the morning. After a good five minutes, my parents would hurry me up to brush my teeth and comb my hair so that we would all meet my dad’s parents for breakfast in the morning. Outside our homes in Vietnam, there was a bustling marketplace, filled with fresh produce and tiny tents of restaurants all over this certain area. Everyone in this little town knew each other, but most of all everyone knew my grandparents. It was a ritual for us to go in our pajamas every morning to fill up our tummies with a good bowl of noodle soups. But that’s the story of 9 AM mornings in Vietnam.

The night life of Vietnam was spectacular because in the summer, couples and families are out enjoying each others’ companies at cafes and cute dessert restaurants. If I was at my aunts’ and uncles’ houses, it was particularly fun because we would eat and chat and watch Korean dramas. Basic things in life are so much better than living a grand life if you have the people you love around you.

Over here in the U.S, the best time is not in the morning or late at night, it’s somewhere around lunch hour to 6 PM. People would lunch together and afterwards many would go to the mall or theater to fill up the three hour gap, and finish the night enjoying dinner at six or seven pm.

Morning is delightful. Night is wonderful.

Sunset blessed my view. (photo from my instagram @queen_than)

Materialistic Girl

We crave the human touch, relationships, fun, but  the most fatal thing that we crave is money. The material thing that we love will come back to do us harm. Money brings luxuries-endless luxuries and financial stability. All of this will ensure a happy life that is filled with food, clothes, and sports car and jewelry. But most people who are lucky enough to enjoy this life will probably at one point choose the wrong crowd and the wrong people and will be overpowered by the power of money that will bring them the ultimate devil, drugs.

As a student, what I crave is some kind of rewards that will reflect my hard work. In middle school, I worked really hard to achieve straight A’s, in order to get medallions at the end of the year. I didn’t understand what it is about a piece of medal that was made in China. TO me, it was literally gold and I felt so powerful just to hold it and call it mine. I remember the assembly of sixth grade when I was nominated to get a medallion by my teacher. I was ecstatic when I received the letter. I even showed it to my ELA teacher asking the content of the letter, of course I was just asking to make me feel better, because I already knew what it was. I remember walking up the short five steps stairway with my math teacher, Mrs. Menz, and when we finally reached the center of the stage, she held out the medallion and gently placed it over my head. Then at the second part of the assembly, I was awarded with another medallion. I was so proud of myself as I walked up and down the amphitheater with two medals clanking around my chest. My first year of middle school went really well, to say the least. In seventh grade, I worked just as hard. Again, I was nominated by a teacher, but by my English teacher this time. During the assembly under the boiling sun, I was anxious if I was really going to get the award because at least ten other people were nominated as well. It was time for the teachers and their chosen students to get in line…my English teacher stood up…she called out to another student, a girl named Cindy. My heart sank to my stomach. I knew I was good enough…so why wasn’t I standing at the stage with my teacher, all proud and smiling? I try to keep the anger from boiling up. Eventually, I was called up to get the 4.0 straight A’s medallion. That’s a great achievement, but I wasn’t happy. I got one instead of two. You could see a shadow over my face, as if the sun was radiating on other students, and ominous clouds crowding over my area, threatening to rain. Nonetheless, it was summer so I didn’t seem to care anymore.

Then there was one left…Eighth grade. I didn’t want to walk out empty handed. I vowed to get two medallions this year. I even transferred to a different P.E class just because with my miles time with this one teacher, I would not get an A, and therefore be excluded from the 4.0 medallion kids. So I did it because I felt so uneasy if I did not get that medallion. I even had dreams about it. I even told my friend that I “couldn’t wait till High School” so that I won’t have to worry myself about these stupid medallions. At the end of the year, I even lied about my community service hours in my club, National Junior Honor Society, just so I would be legible for a medallion. I had to do it. My mind told me to. Flashback to 8th grade assembly, my last assembly. My goal was two medallions- I KNEW I was getting it. But there was one more I yearned for…the science project medallion. My dream was quickly crushed as my name wasn’t called out. However, my mood quickly skyrocketed when I was called for my 2 other medallions I worked “hard” for. I felt a little bit of guilt when I received my NJHS community service award knowing I cheated. But so many other people did it as well, so what’s the harm? I continued to look toward the audience with a smile. “I” did it. I was exhausted with how much mental work it was. I also I realized I changed. In 6th grade, I worked hard because I wanted to prove myself I was worth it. I was working hard to see the progress I made from a “fresh off the boat” Vietnamese girl to a successful “American”. I didn’t want that label around me anymore. But then I became greedy. I was materialistic. I was the monster that I created. In a way, I plateau’ed. There wasn’t much progress after I reached the “Honors” level. I was no longer trying hard as I should and I felt no inspiration to do so. But in Freshman year English Honors class, one of my goals was achieved. I was sitting in front of this girl, J, who I had class with in 2nd grade, when I first came to the U.S. I remember asking J a lot of questions in Vietnamese as I was new and didn’t know what was going on. One time I remember she got fed up and told me off, “Okay whatever, why don’t you ask the teacher?” My inner devil winked at me when the same girl who refused to help me practically begged me for my help in English.

Moral of the story: I know it’s hard that sometimes you can’t tell what success looks like because it isn’t in the forms of a promotion or a silly award but you have to understand you are working at a long term goal/success. My medallions are still hanging (still proudly) on my computer desks, clanking away every time my printer is cranking out papers, but they are absolutely useless. But I can’t deny that these medallions still feel amazing to wear on days that I am sad.

5 times the charm.

5 times the charm.