April 28, 2008
By Lisha Xu, Shrewsbury, MA

"You must complete your SAT work before 9 pm." "Remember to practice your SAT sections before the upcoming test" I'm sure these phrases repeatedly surface around the lives of a typical high school teenager born into a typical asian family. For others, these phrases may not bring so much of a fond memory. For teens around the world, even more so for US teenagers, these years bring the most cumbersome obstacles but also at the same time transport with it cherished memories of new friendships and newly discovered passions. It is at these years that we truly attempt to find ourselves and strive to reveal inherent characteristics that we harbor that are not necessarily accepted by convention. Of course, at this stage we are like new born chicks trying to break free from our shells, the seemingly undefiable boundary set forth by our parents and our peers. Teenage years is also the time of constant struggle and battle with ourselves. Even if we came upon some hint of new discovered ability, we would soon be suppressed because these abilities are new. Others, including parents and our peers fear that unique light emitted from individuals. Our peers resolve to drastic issues to prevent one's unique quality from surfacing, and they often do so by restricting those who may harbor the faintest trace of variability. Perhaps provoked by a natural sense of social instinct, we feel the dire necessity for conformity and thus resolve to supress that magical unique abiltity we inherently acquire. As a teenage asian female, I also used to fall victim to the so called accepted standards of beliefs. To please my parents and peers, I resolve to behave in the normal manner or a typical chinese student, studying endlessly for that perfect score on the test and aimlessly participating in some activities for the sake of college applications. At first I thought I would be contented enough to just follow through with the everyday tedious monotonous schedules. But as time progressed, I felt the tinge of resentment and unease gradually surfacing. At times I would even question the basis in which I would complete these tasks. I looked deep inside of myself and asked exactly what activity I truly harbor passion for. Suddenly, a realization struck me that all this time, I was trying to conform and please others. I never accomplished anything much for my own sake. At the same time, I detested this part of myself and want to discover, even aspire to bring forward some suppressed ability that I never knew I had. Of course, the path is by no means a easy one. Picture for example, starting out with an almost blank slate of chalk board and attempting to write or create something with the chalk in a matter of a few seconds. This is almost an impossible task. Nevertheless, I decided to not lose hope. I sincerely believed that the light that I hope to find is hidden somewhere in the obscurity of my own disillusions. From that point on, I decided to truly give myself an opportunity and truly let myself open up to all activities I participate in. Instead of viewing the activities as a source for that one or two lines on the college application, I started to appreciate those activities and perceive them as the medium for the path of self discovery. Gradually, I opened my mindset and no longer focused solely upon obtaining that perfect score, but learned for the sake of knowledge and a better understanding of the world that I live in. Inevitably, I also realized the extent of my previously held resentment dissolved and contentment and fervor for life substitued its position. In literature, we often associate ourselves as our greatest nemesis. I've viewed to truly to take a form in reality. Of course, that is not to say that I have completely eradicated and surpassed the abilties of this nemesis. I believe that it will take on some other form and linger in the corner eventually for me to battle. But I hold with conviction one thing,by overcoming even the slightest obstacle I will ultimately advance to the top.

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