They say “new year, new me.” Being scared is certainly a “new me” from how I left 2018.
Towards the end of last year, I was definitely not scared.
If anything, I was scary. (Gasp!)
It was almost scary to see how much I’d changed since the beginning of the year — to see myself capable of doing things I could not have imagined before. I can’t fathom the sheer number of times I looked in the mirror, just to ask myself: “How could I?”
But I’m back to the same old me from last January. Last January, I was so scared.
I had left 2017 with so many uncertainties: What do I care about? Am I alone? Will I be okay? Am I a good person?
2018 resolved a lot of these insecurities. Yet I go into 2019 by revisiting some of these questions and adding new ones to the list:
- I learned I am capable of expressing myself, but I’m also more cautious to share as I know sometimes I hurt others. But sometimes, I won’t realize I hurt them until I already did. And sometimes, I’ll think I won’t care if I unintentionally hurt them, if it is a means to defend myself. However, I’ll always realize that I hurt most when I hurt others. Even more than how much they hurt me. Even if they hurt me first. Because I can choose to get over my own pain. But I can’t heal the pain of others. They’re entitled to their own feelings.
- I learned how to process pain (through outlets that help me heal! Like writing!), but I fear forgetting how much it hurts. Because then I’ll forget to empathize with those who may experience similar difficulties.
- I grew to trust myself very much, but I am more cautious of becoming myopic in my own views.
- I grew to appreciate feedback, but I’m more critical of them as I know that I know myself best.
- I believe, more than ever before, that words matter, but I’m more careful to use them because I know the power they carry.
- I believe, more than ever before, that truth matters, but I’m more aware than ever before that it hurts at times.
- I truly learned to love the people in my life, but I find my relationships more delicate as I take their feelings and ideas very seriously.
I’m back to phase one: I’m scared.
In fact, I’m more scared than I was ever before. Some of my interests, relationships and values grew deeper last year. Whether that’s the opportunity to learn. Or she who will tell me what I need to hear even if it hurts. Or he who will listen to my story with patience. Or they who don’t need words to understand me. Or my belief in truth. Or my choice to love. Or my commitment to be myself.
I confess that I sometimes forget how important these interests, relationships and values are to me. To give an excuse, they’re only taken for granted because they’re that fundamental to my existence. Sadly, I usually remember that just when I find them slipping away. Let me try my best this year to remember this before the wake-up call.
But the ones that stayed, stayed for a reason. And for them, I am more than thankful. I hold them dear, more so than ever — I take them more seriously than ever before. I’m scared to let them down. I’m so seriously scared. More than ever before.
So here we go again. I’m so scared! I’m so cautious! And I’m so unsure!
I guess adults (Yes! I’m calling myself an adult!) get scared, too. Perhaps more than when we were kids. It’s just that we know that it’s going to be okay.
Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.
What else can I do, 2019 is already here! I can only choose to believe. Even if for now, it is make-believe. I call it hope.
So I keep pushing, as I won’t know until I try. I’m confident I’ll get through it, based on my previous 21 trials of life. By the end of the year, I’ll find a “new me” who’s so different from myself right now that it’ll almost be scary. I’ll be capable of doing things I can’t imagine right now. And then I’ll be scared again as I will have yet another set of questions to address.
Meanwhile, I’ll just have to be gentle and believe everything will fall into place.
I believe I have things I want to do. I believe I can do them. I believe in the people in my life. And I’m so incredibly thankful for them. I also believe in the ones who are not here at the moment. I appreciate them, too. I believe I will be okay. And I believe I am a good person.
Oh, before you go —
One new thing I’m trying: I want to read just as much as I write this year. (Maybe next year, I’ll try to read more than I write. One step at a time, right?).
Here are a few pieces from other student writers I found interesting (regardless of whether I agreed with their viewpoints). Let’s hope they keep writing this year!
- Sam Wolfe’s “What We Do at the Review” (The Stanford Review)
- Sun Woo Lee’s “Asian American College Applicants are Victims of False Advertising, Not Discrimination” (The Stanford Sphere)
- Lucas Rodriguez’s “The Fountain Hopper’s Inflection Point” (Stanford Politics)
- DeeDee Anderson’s “Acquaintance’s Enthusiastic ‘Hello’ Sparks Confusion for Student Biker” (The Stanford Flipside)
And from our very own (We get three, because … we can. I’m writing this piece):
- Abena Boadi-Agyemang’s “The gentrifiers’ party anthem”
- Mikaela Brewer’s “Humble”
- Jack Golub’s “Controlling the NBA media”
Contact Inyoung Choi at ichoi’at’stanford.edu.