Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Who Are You? Who Do You Pretend to Be?

My life is generally a roller coaster of feelings and mixed emotions about every topic I come across, but ever since coming here all of that has gone away.  I was able to focus on what was in front of me for once in my life, able to find my academic self.  I left behind everything coming over to the East coast: my family, my friends, the West coast culture, and those that I love.  Without them in my life, all that I was left with the main topics of the trip: reaching out and academics.  I was finding what I want to do with myself and learning all about colleges and cultures and still am at this very moment.  However, a certain seminar today made me realize how much I don't have right now.

The seminar was privately for students who came to Brown on scholarships, such as the Ivy League Connection.  Kisa, who we ate dinner with last Thursday at the Capital Grille, invited all of us to come by letter for the workshop.  The workshop was run by rising juniors at Brown by the names of Jessica, Stanley, and Manuel.  The majority of the time was spent talking about social and economic class during the latter half, but what really spoke to me and enlightened me was the first half.  It was a warm up with two simple questions, but those two questions were enough to dig deep into my mind.  Those two questions were: "Who are you? Who do you pretend to be?"  Of course the expected answer is "My name is Brandon Chow, I'm a rising senior from the Bay Area, California, and I'm here on the Ivy League Connection scholarship for the DNA-based biotechnology program.  I don't pretend to be anyone, because I am who I am here and I'm here to represent the West Contra Costa Unified School District." Unfortunately, that was not my answer.  The questions were to be answered to someone we did not know while they listened for a minute, not allowed to say a single word.  The activity seems simple, but is really meant to allow someone to speak out from their heart.

My answer was simple at first: "My name is Brandon, I'm pretty normal since I don't exactly have any extraordinary qualities."  From there, my mind started to think.  I'm here on a trip that only select people go on thanks to their achievements, yet I'm calling myself normal.  "I pretend to be that student everybody likes, the one that 'fits in.' But in reality, it's really pressuring and stressful.  Being someone you aren't takes a toll, and some parts of my trip really felt that way."  I'm sure some people reading this blog would get on my case for putting things like this on my blog, but the message I'm trying to convey is that nobody is perfect.  We live in a world where there are always expectations looming over us, but what if we don't meet those expectations or just plain get tired of it?  We get scolded, we get lectured, and we get shaped back into our expectations. It may sound like I'm complaining, but really it's just some food for thought.  I'm fine with every expectation that I am to meet, and I get enough stress-relief to deal with it.  But perhaps one day that scholar everyone thought was perfect will snap.  

I haven't thought in this way for a long time, and I realize that's because there is no reason to here.  I'm separated from my friends and family, and thus all drama that comes with it.  But without that, I've simply turned into a working machine that is eager to meet people, reach out, and learn new things. However, a machine is still a machine.  There is a lack of emotion and without that something is just missing.  I can't quite put my finger on it, but I'm sure it has to do with the home that I am returning to this Saturday. As my brain continues to chew on this question, I must ask: Who are you? Who do you pretend to be?

P.S. My DNA sample for our lab today and tomorrow went missing, so that'll be interesting to work around.

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