How have you been faring? Although I’m a bit anxious for the new semester, I’m glad to rewind the summer memories and analyze the little lessons that I’ve learned and grappled with along the way. I’d like to think that my summer was divided into two parts.
- Mid-May, June and July — Morning forecasts of dark clouds and coffee
Black coffee was the only thing I drank during my bland mornings. It became almost endearing how consistent it tasted — bitter and cold, perfectly representing how these past few months felt. These months were jarringly bitter, especially from what I saw on the news — police brutality stemmed from generations of systemic racism and the lack of united government leadership as people have suffered physically and financially. These months were cold in the apathy and complacency I saw from others with the way some of our social systems have placed emphasis on capital and hierarchy over humanity and therefore will forever remain stagnant.
As a daughter of two immigrant parents — one an essential worker and the other a small business owner — I found it difficult to be confronted with the financial stresses of the lives they lead. I struggled to become a strong voice for them as I communicated with landlords, translated the Internet’s complexities and pored through numerous grant and loan applications. There was a side of me that became appalled by the American, apathetic idea of “it’s just business” that was reflected when corporations received small business loans and the realization that money dictates how everything in life works.
This time of uncertainty and pandemonium has undeniably led me to question the uncertainty in my own life — major, plans, career, etc. — and I became immediately daunted by these burdensome ideas that I left behind on Grounds. I saw our society for what it is — a society that requires serious repair work — and became uncertain about the career path that I was simply “okay” with.
Being the oldest, first generation Asian American daughter in my family — what a mouthful! —
I have always felt obligated to fulfill this implicit duty to attain monetary success and climb the rungs of social status. But is it truly considered to be naive to want to pursue a career that benefits others rather than to try to bring honor to my family’s name through an unsatisfying, corporate career? Let’s say I do take the latter path — will my values remain intact? Will I achieve true fulfillment? Or are these things deemed as childish or frowned upon when selecting a career?
“Ignorance is bliss.” There is nothing more disturbingly true than this phrase itself, and I’ve come to stupidly yearn for this naive ignorance and an innocent perspective on life’s complexities during this time. I’ve become intimidated by the sheer magnitude and intricacies of the world’s affairs, and I feel that I’m not truly ready to see the world for what it is. But I now understand that this is a dangerous thought and that I must not blindly seek out what I only wish to see. Rather than being numbed by the horrors and retreating as I uncover more things about the world, I’m trying to become more educated and active to alleviate them for the future.
- August — Calm, nonetheless
Nevertheless, there was joy hidden in the days of August. I rediscovered my love for Japanese animations, films and novels that I associated with my youth. I left my hermit shell of a room and met up with old friends both in-person —safely and from a distance! — and virtually over hearty meals and watercolor painting. I noticed that I have a knack for discerning the small, happy senses in my life such as the feeling of lazily dawdling on an exceptionally hot day, the sound of thunderclaps and cicada buzzings, the yellow of cucumber flowers and the heavy contentment one feels in the stomach after a large breakfast with family. I try to cherish each moment and revel in its simplicity and predictability.
I’ve also grown appreciative of the generosity and warmth from the folks surrounding me. To think that it was merely upon chance that we have made connections with the people we’ve come to value and know in life makes you marvel at how the world functions in curious, but fortunate ways. Perhaps I can hope and trust the innate, good-heartedness of people to allow society to somewhat move along in the end. Maybe then our lives can get slightly better from here on out.
How have you spent your summer days? Have you mastered the mysteries of yeast in bread-making, discovered or rediscovered something you love or fretted over the uncertainties of our future as I did? Is there something you’ve grown appreciative of over these strange, short times? I hope that you are in a much better, more confident place than I am. If you’re not, that’s okay — we’ll find our way together. I send you my best wishes as you ready yourself to say “hello” to the fall season and semester, wherever you may be.
Sarah Kim is a Life Columnist at The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.