Senior columns: Reflecting on the past four years

Anika Sikka

I’m a worrier—throughout my life I’ve been a huge fan of Murphy and his famous law: “If something can go wrong, it will.” And I don’t know what luck was bestowed on me at birth, but it seems like Murphy’s been with me throughout my whole life, sitting on my shoulder and guiding me—or, I guess, blinding me. 

As a toddler, Murphy told me that I absolutely could not go to the beach because the sand would eat me. As I got older in elementary school, Murphy told me that I couldn’t go to Happy Hollow Zoo on a field trip because I’d accidentally end up inside the lion pen (there is no lion pen at Happy Hollow Zoo), my fate decided from thereon. 

And now, as a teenager, Murphy makes me late to school. As I pull out of the driveway, he asks me: “Did you close the door?”

To which I respond: “Yes????”

“But did you really”

“Okay well I don’t know”

Then I always turn back and double check to make sure I’ve closed the door—it’s always been closed whenever I’ve checked. 

Though he’s been with me my whole life, I hate Murphy. I hate the power he holds over me and I hate how every single step I’ve taken in my life has been guarded. I’ve never done something or made a decision where Murphy hasn’t offered his two cents, and it’s caused me to become an intrinsic worrier.

I guess most people would call this insanity, but I’m not crazy, there’s just an invisible philosopher guy sitting on my shoulders causing unnecessary stress in my life. And during my senior year, I’ve decided that I’m not going to let this invisible little man dictate my life anymore. So, I believe in ignoring Murphy—or, in more academic words if you will: spontaneity. 

I believe in late night walks in the hills even if I might get eaten by a mountain lion. I believe in unpremeditated bagel runs in the morning, even if it means I have to parallel park. I believe in gobbling at turkeys on my walks, even if my neighbors look at me strangely.

I believe in spontaneity. Because, even if my life doesn’t turn out picture perfect, at least my experiences and memories will.  Murphy made me live my life to please others; now, I live for me. I live for the serendipitous experiences that life has to offer, and the thrill of the unknown. So, take that Murphy. 

Audrey Zhu

The first time I saw a gambling game was when I was six, standing by the doorway of my uncle’s attic, watching silently as four experienced, cutthroat players — my grandma and my uncles — eagerly flipped through their Mahjong tiles and counted through their chips.

When I was finally old enough to learn how to play, I immediately fell in love with the game. Like many other card or gambling games, it involved risk-taking and luck. There was an element of uncertainty — not knowing what tiles the other players have and not knowing what tiles are still in the deck. The moment when everything is already out of my control, my shaky hands hovering over the face-down tile, about to reveal to everybody whether or not this tile is going to allow me to win it all — that’s what I loved. 

In life, however, it’s exactly what I hated. I can’t deal with uncertainty and I’m scared of taking risks. That’s why I had a vision for my future from a very young age, and I make sure everything I do is according to that plan, which ends with one goal: a spot in a top university. 

Any time I picked up a new extracurricular activity, one question loomed in the back of my mind: how will this look on a college application? When it came time to pick our classes for the next year, I disregarded others’ advice to find a balance between academics and fun, or to cut back on those Advanced Placement classes. Once again, I only cared about how those classes would look to a college admissions officer. 

When I did manage to convince myself to get out of my comfort zone, have some fun, or do anything that deviated from my plan, it felt like I would instantly get punished by the universe by a bad test grade the next day or getting no time to do my homework. I would be overcome by guilt, allowing my worth to be defined by some random letter in a gradebook. 

So I confined myself to what I considered my perfectly curated plan. I rarely took risks, because I always needed to know what the next step was, and how it was going to impact my future. The skill of letting loose and enjoying uncertainty only came naturally in Mahjong. 

That’s not to say that I’m not grateful for this personality trait of mine, because I do believe it is the reason I am where I’m at today, and I am beyond excited about my college next year. But the five minutes of complete happiness after opening my acceptance letter started to fade away as I looked back on my missed opportunities to live life to the fullest.

In the past couple of months, I realized that I don’t have to be so consumed by what’s ahead of me and the unknown. I don’t have to sacrifice living in the present moment just to satisfy my idea of a perfect future. I can take risks. I can do what’s best for me at that moment. I can look forward to surprises. I can navigate life the way I win at Mahjong. 

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About the Contributors
Anika Sikka
Anika Sikka, Editor-in-Chief
Audrey Zhu
Audrey Zhu, Opinions Editor

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