Senior Column – Maruko Myint ’19

Maruko Myint, News Editor

In the beginning of freshman year, I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

The moment that I began high school, my family constantly lectured me to follow and exceed the academic standards that were laid down. My parents were first generation immigrants who immigrated for the sole purpose of improving my education, and they wanted the best for me, so they expected the best out of me. I was pressured to have straight A’s, take as many AP classes possible and become a leader in every organization–basically be perfect and overachieve in every aspect.

I didn’t receive the encouragement or the opportunities to find what I truly wanted, and instead, I spent all of my time researching programs and organizations that would fit my family’s expectations. At school, I would secretly admire certain upperclassmen simply because of their academic achievements, idolizing their success and desperately trying to copy them by structuring my high school career to be like theirs. Despite all of my efforts, I didn’t know what I truly wanted because I spent all of my time trying to be someone whom other people wanted.

When sophomore year started, that was when reality struck because it was the year I took my first AP class: AP Biology. It was my only advanced course in my schedule, and I was confident that I would excel and prove that my family’s expectations of me would be met. However, since it was my first advanced class and the course itself was so difficult, I couldn’t keep up with the demanding workload. As I was struggling, my high expectations of myself came crumbling down. I had grown to attach my self-worth to my academic performance, and when I realized I truly couldn’t reach my academic expectations, I felt like I was losing my own value.

I could have easily continued this downhill spiral if it weren’t for my friends. At that time, I was becoming closer to a group of five people whom I now call my best friends. Whenever I was with them, it just seemed impossible to not have fun. If I was feeling down and lost, they were always there for me, cheering me up with lame jokes that weirdly cracked me up. The happiness that I felt with them changed me because I had never felt so carefree and genuinely happy in even the plainest of situations. They made me feel loved for who I was as an individual–not as a grade or an achievement or an award.

The love from my friends opened me up to a new perspective; it taught me to laugh more in the moment, enjoy happiness as it is, and most importantly, appreciate the things I already had in my life. Instead of bringing myself down by focusing on the negative things in life, I began actively pursuing my own happiness.

I joined different organizations in a search to find what I was truly passionate in and I took classes that I had genuine interest in. It still took me a much longer time to adapt to advanced courses, but I enjoyed challenging myself, and I was learning and growing from the ups and downs. My academic record may not be perfect, but I am still proud of what I have accomplished because I have learned to accept and grow from my mistakes. It took me three years to finally find my breath, but I’m breathing and alive, and that’s all that matters now.