One day you’ll be handing in your last page of homework. One day you’ll have your last pop quiz and your last agonizing earthquake drill that wasted your time. One day you’re going to leave behind all the friends that you have had amazing days with and made thousands of stories to remember by.
You’ll sit in your last class, listening to your teachers knowing that you will never see their faces again. One day you will take your possessions out of your locker and punch in your combo for the last time and take those slow steps out the doors of your school.
One day we’ll all be standing side by side accepting pieces of paper with people you have known and grown up with for years.
If you think about it, one day you’ll forget about all the people you once cared for and you’ll barely remember the memories you had even when you see their face when browsing through your yearbook.
One day you’ll be old enough to live by yourself. You’ll pack your bags and move your things into your new house. One day you’ll hug your parents goodbye and say farewell. One day you won’t be in high school, you’ll be doing a job you either hate or love for the rest of your life.
We’re all so ready to just get up and leave everything we used to dedicate our lives to.
“How’s the roast turkey?” Another question I can’t answer. I sigh, throw on a fake smile, and lie through my teeth, “It’s really good!” As I’m slicing the meat I take a moment to question my life choices. Specifically, the ones that led to me being here, working in a deli. I don’t eat meat, ever. I’m a vegetarian. No, don’t look at me with pity. Don’t feel bad for me or ask if I miss it. Don’t assume that I never liked meat. Or, that the poor animals I feel bad for are simply meeting their eventual end. It’s not like that. And trust me, the last thing I need is some ignorant fool telling me that “it’s the circle of life.” If your simple justification allows you sleep at night, then good for you, buddy.
The problem is, people don’t know the facts; it’s not as simple as slaughtering an animal for meat. To ease their conscience, people would like to think that it’s a clean and easy process. But it’s so much worse than a fast, painless death. The real problem is everything up to their awful deaths. It is the fact that humanity is making other innocent living creatures feel pain and suffering. Their lives are pure hell from the moment they’re born.
For example, I bet you didn’t know that they grind up all the male chicks because they’re obsolete to the farmers. Or, that they impregnate cows so that they’ll produce more milk. When the calf is born, they rip the mother away from the baby within the hour and then, in most cases, kill the calf. Or even that many animals, like chickens and pigs, are kept in cages so small they can’t even turn around. Despite the fact that pigs are smarter than dogs, they are treated with unbelievable cruelty. As a farm animal’s life comes to an end, they are packed one on top of the other in a food truck. They stay there for days with no food or water until the truck reaches the slaughterhouse. Pretty horrific, right? So many people inflict great evil on defenceless animals all for profit on the meat you eat.
So, the next time someone tells you she’s a vegetarian, don’t lecture her about getting enough protein. Don’t laugh or roll your eyes. A simple, “good for you,” will do just fine, thanks.
Slap, Slap. My feet hit the pavement and I’m gone. Away from the house engulfed in an aura of anxiety. The stress rolling off the roof in waves. The tension rising up into the air like steam.
I needed the sweet relief of the cool air on my face. The wind running its gentle fingers through my hair, I fall into a calming, steady rhythm. Feel the energy travel through my muscles, contracting and releasing. I feel it run through the bones down to the tips of my toes, where it is released in a steady pulse every time my foot pushes off the pavement. Adrenaline rushes through my veins. As sweat trickles down my neck, my pent-up anxiety is flushed from my body like a toxin.
I take in the green foliage lining the path and the crystalline waters of my beloved lake. I feel at ease looking out over the still, glassy surface, completely uninterrupted, except for the occasional ripples caused by the falling cotton. The mesmerizing landscape and the effort of simply running, one step at a time, holds my focus. There’s no room for unwanted thoughts.
And then, after some time, I’m ready to head home. Back down the streets, past the dogs who bark in unison, and around the corner. I almost feel disappointed that it’s time to re-enter reality, but it’s OK. Because I know that when I get back, the world will seem a little brighter, and my problems, a little smaller, because running gives me the strength to take on another day.
She is hunched over, writing meticulously in her note book. Copying the text from the sheet over and over again trying to commit the words to memory. Clad in a forest green t-shirt tucked into black shorts, she perches on the edge of the stage. The people around her distract her from her task, causing her to stop what she is doing and engage in a short conversation. She smiles while talking, her face lighting up at the action causing her soft features to pop. Her short hair tickles her shoulders at the movement of her going back to her work as the conversation ends. Her blue pen glides across the page as her hand resettles into the task of copying. The notebook perched on her lap moves ever so slightly under the pressure of the pen. Her left hand tries to hold it in place but it can only do so much. The micro movement cause her writing to be slightly messy. The bell rings interrupting her once again. She sighs closing her notebook, unhappy as the words on the page are unfinished. She gets up from her sitting place, grabs her things and saunters back stage towards the green room, then out to the hallway where she makes her way to her next class.
I find myself saddened because I was not apart of these interactions. I was left on the outskirts of the group simply observing, living through what I was seeing. I wish I could have the courage to sit as she was on the stage, center of attention, yet still ignoring her surroundings, focusing on her own task. She is not too wrapped up in her own world to be rude to those who engage with her; however, she didn’t lose her place in her work. I wish I could multitask like her. She can concentrate on something important while holding a conversation. That takes a special kind of talent. Although I saw only a small snippet of her life I am envious of it anyway. I don’t know anything about her and yet I wish to be her.
I find that this happens a lot in life. You see someone walking down the street rocking an outfit you wish you had the confidence to pull off and you become jealous. You don’t know the person you have never seen them before nor will you see them again but you paint a picture of their life in your head, and suddenly you want it. You want to be that person or, rather you want to be the made up version of this person. Why do we all do this? Are we all just subconsciously unhappy with who we are so we try to create scenarios about strangers’ lives that we wish were our own? Even though I had only saw a small part of this girl’s life I had created an entire persona for her. I thought up a life that didn’t exist. I don’t know her, I don’t know what struggles she is facing and yet I still want to be her. It’s borderline insanity, yet I will never stop creating these fictional lives.
As a little girl, I was always fascinated by the wonders of the outside world. Everything brought wonder to my eyes, from the soft petals of a rose to the rolly polly bugs that lived under the damp wood pile. I found all of these things beautiful and interesting, and nothing would deter me from learning more…nothing except thousands of tiny spiders crawling menacingly towards me.
I remember being about 3 or 4 years old, enjoying a beautiful after noon spent playing in my backyard. My mother and grandmother were up in the house cooking and enjoying some tea, checking up on me every once in a while, but I was in pure bliss, playing princess and other magical games a little girl might dream up. All was well within my kingdom, that is until I decided to make my way up the worn wood stairs of my deck to go back inside. My little feet carried me up the steps slowly but surely; I was taking my sweet time, not quite ready to end play time, however, when I reached the middle of the stair case I looked down and noticed movements; almost like the static on a television. At my small feet were what seemed like millions of baby spiders. They began to trickle around my ankles like stream of water. I screamed out, terrified of the things I had once considered beautiful. My mother and grandmother heard my cries and both rushed through the door looking to see what was wrong. When my mother spotted the tiny arachnid around my feet she hurried back inside to boil the kettle. I stood there, white as a sheet, not moving, not breathing, simply praying that the little critters would leave me be. After what seemed like an eternity my mother returned with the scolding hot water, dousing the spiders effectively, and allowing me to make my escape.
Although I grew to learn that spiders, despite their unappealing outside, were in fact a very important and essential part of our ecosystem, I could never look at them the same and would forever be haunted by the memory of my 4 year old self being attacked by the tiny army at my feet.
This Saturday morning, l woke up at 6:00; l still can’t believe that l actually wake up that easily on a Saturday morning. Of course there is a reason for everything; today I’m going to continue my apartment hunt; as a international student who lives in a homestay, I must move by the end of this month.
“Well, l better start looking for places if l don’t want end up living on the street.”
I told myself that 2 months ago.
After going through 40 emails a day all of last week and countless replying and forwarding, l was “lucky” to find 3 apartments that l would look at this week. You heard it, 3 out of 120 emails actually landed safely; this is just absolutely Christmas.
So this morning I’m heading to Vancouver, to see my second target for this week. The first one didn’t go the way l expected; long story short, it’s a basement that’s right next to a fast food garbage dump; the basement doesn’t have any windows, but that won’t make any difference, because all l would be staring at is fly-infested garbage.
By the time l pause my thoughts, I’m already on the sky train to Vancouver. I lean my head on the train window, staring at the morning view of Surrey, New Westminster and then Burnaby.
I un-pause my mind and starting picturing my life after high school. l find this feeling funny and strange, because it’s exactly how l felt when l was on the way to Canada one year ago. A feeling mixed with confusion, excitement and little bit of terror. I never noticed how l went through those strange feelings a year ago, but l know l am in the same position as l was. I’m reaching a point where life will never be the same, a point of no return, the moment that l realize once l have done this, my life will heading in a completely different direction. It’s quite terrifying because for most of the time, l have no clue what’s waiting for me in the future; l could try to imagine , but l feel like I’m still in a heavy fog; I might see a few shapes and general lines, but l can never see them clearly. My life in front of me remains undecided, because l have become undecided again.
There is only one week of school left. Finally, the days of school can be counted on my fingers. A million hours, minutes and seconds will soon reach the end. I feel the weight of school ending is pressuring my brain every day; sometimes when l thinking about the end of high school, l found it is hard to breathe. It’s one of the most ironic things in the world. Because my attitude was nothing like this sobbing kid who is scared of graduating from high school. I had it all planned out; l was so looking forward to my life after high school, going to university in North Vancouver, starting to live by myself, exploring a new place, and, most importantly, finding a new me who l never knew before. I was so ready for this ! I was so ready that l couldn’t even wait for high school to be over, l wanted move on right now, to a new life. But that was before l started looking for my apartment, before I realized that my idea could actually happen.
When l realized my vision is slowly become reality, l got scared because l fear my reality will become an abomination of my visions.
Now that I have arrived at my future apartment, I’m happy because it looks pretty neat, my room is on the third floor, one window, with a view of downtown Vancouver; 30 minutes by bus to my university and 20 minutes to downtown. I’m also scared because this means soon I’ll be saying goodbye to my life in Brookswood. At that moment, l become myself a year ago again. A boy who was leaving his home for a new adventure and the unknown. I feel the same terror again, the feeling’s like looking back at my old elementary graduating picture: infinite terror.
My life is a juggling act. Made up of balls going round and round above my head. Each important, yet some bigger than others. The most robust take priority. School. Homework. Work. Sports. Leadership. AP exams. Around and around they go.
And then, if you look closer, can you see them? Smaller balls go speeding past, so fast you almost miss them. Friends. Family. Health. Personal interests. All flying in the endless loop of my life. Go on, add another one, I can take it.
As the commitments pile up, the circle gets crowded. Smaller balls start dropping left and right. Slipping through my fingers, they’re harder to keep track of. They must wait until I can find the time to pick them up again. To throw them back in with the lot.
But lately, the balls have been picking up speed. I see their intense colors whizz behind my eyelids even when I sleep. The runts stay on the ground longer each time. They’re too hard to pick up. To juggle everything is nearly impossible. So, I let them stay.
But I can feel a shift. The act is coming to a close. It’s only a matter of time until they all come crashing down.
Last year, I took programming in a computer lab. In this particular lab, there were multiple rows of computers and an aisle down the middle. In the front row, there were newer, better computers. I had “friends” in that class and I liked to sit with them. On one occasion, some of my friends and I were seated in the front row. Another friend arrived later and was forced to sit in another row. I decided to sacrifice my good computer and sit with my friend and enjoy the class.
Another time, my friends were already seated in the front as I arrived a little bit late. There were no remaining seats in the front row. I sat down in a row behind them, but I still would have liked them to be closer. I sat at an older computer and I had seats empty around me. I subtly suggested that one of them could move and come sit with me, still, they were adamant in their love of better computers. My sacrifice was not reciprocated.
This is just a small example that may not seem like a big deal, but the selfishness demonstrated would likely reoccur in more apparent situations. I take this lack of sacrifice as evidence that they are not “friends”. However, it is not only that. Even though I sacrificed my good computer, I do not have much affection for my “friends”. I care that they don’t suffer physically; otherwise, it is difficult for me sympathize with their problems, problems that I don’t care about. Yet I ask myself, is the problem with me? Am I the only one that feels this way? I think about it and come to the conclusion that they don’t care either. I don’t care for them; they don’t care for me. We share interests, but I don’t necessarily agree with their behaviour.
What is a friend? Well, WordReference defines it as “A person who is attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.” It is also defined as “A person who gives assistance.” With these definitions, it is evident that society uses the term “friend” very lightly.
One evening, a person I knew was with “friends,” yet only a few demonstrated their affection. While this person was briefly away, a bunch of them thought it would be funny to leave without telling the other. There was one who disagreed and stayed behind to keep the person in the loop. This person that stayed behind demonstrated qualities of actual friendship. He gave assistance and demonstrated affection.
True friends are incredibly difficult to find. You will be very lucky if you find two or three true friends in your lifetime. It will be impossible for people to be true friends without some sort of ethical code. People take comfort in consistency and in knowing someone’s behavioural capabilities; people need to realize not everything is always about them; people should be trustworthy and loyal. The unfortunate thing is, we are often not taught how to be friends.
Being a proper friend is learned at home. Parents need to invest a lot of time and energy in order for the kids to properly behave and possibly be good friends. You need to instil values of sacrifice, respect, and patience into the people you have influence over. Referring back to the earlier story, hindering others for a cheap laugh is not an acceptable option as a friend.
Most of the people commonly identified as “friends” I would more likely call buddies or acquaintances. Friends should be there when times are tough and when they have nothing to gain by helping you. On that note, I’m going to go and hang out with my buddies and acquaintances.
By nature, humans are selfish, erratic, and disloyal. This is easily noticed every day. The people we engage with, including everyone from acquaintances to businessmen to politicians, are where they are due to them focusing on personal gain. However, it is not only that they are focusing on their personal gain, but that they don’t care about the debris they leave in their wake. This mostly is in regard to the selfishness of humans. Humans are also inconsistent and fickle. They continually change their opinions and emotions. Many have not been taught to stick with what they said even if they change their minds. On occasion, humans go as far as hindering another on purpose, putting them in pain (whatever pain that might be) just to spite them. This is what evil looks like. It is these inherent qualities of humans that keep relationships from functioning.
In a relationship, love is an action, not a feeling. It doesn’t matter how you feel at a specific moment. You made a commitment of some kind and you keep it. That’s why divorce rates are so high these days. People don’t have a foundation of integrity, discipline and self-control under their belt. People are not taught to keep their commitments and are taught to “follow their heart” or in other words pursue every little, obsessive, primal urge that you feel. What I mean by love as an action is that you respect and cherish the other person even when you don’t feel like it. You keep their strengths and weaknesses in mind. As you both improve, you are considerate of the other person’s weaknesses. You do not use their weaknesses against them. This goes for all relationships.
When someone says relationship, the first thing that comes to mind is a romantic one, so that’s what I’ll continue to talk about. In a romantic relationship, is is important to cherish the person for who they are and not what they are. That leads to my next point, and that is to make wise choices in choosing relationships. If you commence a relationship for the wrong reasons, it will be much harder to maintain it in a pleasant state. Start a (romantic) relationship if you appreciate who they are. Do you appreciate their behaviour? Their values? Their opinions? Their goals? It is important to be self-aware and educated when making these choices.
Among other things, this is why casual dating doesn’t work, especially in high school. Coming together just to hook-up or just “cause you feel like it” are not good things to base a relationship on. Serial monogamy, which is a good way to identify what some people do, is unhealthy not just on a relational level but also on a physical level, increasing chances for diseases etc. All these things lead to pain and heartbreak you don’t need to go through. It goes back to being self-aware, educated, and making wise choices.
We can mitigate some of the negative qualities of humans if we are ethical. Be loyal, be trustworthy. We can avoid the selfishness, chaos, and evil in human nature.