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July 14, 2013
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The last time I can remember fully committing to anything was an argument with my brother. It wasn't anything earth-shattering or bond-destroying like we were a deep Irish brood and I owed him money, it was about a simple but divisive topic: whether or not Taylor Swift is any good live.
I argued that Taylor Swift was a writer more than she was a singer (“That’s her talent! Your expectations are way too high”) he countered by showing me a YouTube video entitled “Taylor Swift Sucks Live!”
While I was arguing for the singer, my thinking was on a higher level. I was coming up with reasoning and defense and scrambling to find evidence (this isn’t a legal case, my evidence almost exclusively consisted of videos I found under the search “Taylor Swift good singing.”)
I soon came to the alarming conclusion that this argument featured me putting in more effort than I had to certainly everything I’ve done this summer and possibly during the entire school year.
I feel that I had always been someone who does their best and is willing to put in an earnest effort, except during physical activities that I know I can’t perform, in which case I won’t even try at all. I had been a student that would meticulously make flashcards and study them to the point where I saw them even when my eyes were closed.
At some point, I can’t exactly pinpoint a time, but in the general area of my freshman year sounds about right, I just stopped putting in that sort of effort. All my classes and most of my extracurricular activities ceased to be of such paramount importance to me. And it’s not like I started to fail all my classes and get into hard drugs, I still got A’s and B’s and I am far too afraid for my own body to start doing drugs. I saw my grades as “not that important.” If I got a C on a math test, I could just study super hard for the next one, get an A, and I’ll be sitting on a very commendable B!
I’ve already realized that the lack of effort was placing on school was not good and very counterproductive, but my grades weren’t showing it so I really had no reason to stop, or in this case, start again. Before my second semester chemistry final, for example, instead of doing any real studying for this test, I caught up with the second season of “Scandal” and still got an A. I’m not bragging: chemistry was always an easy class for me, so I probably didn't need to study anyway. Plus it was second semester finals, which is basically already summer vacation.
I don't know exactly what came over me that made me want to stop putting effort into my work. My C+A=B mentality works in theory, but what if I decided to not study for the second test? It’s a risky plan that could undoubtedly lead me down a slippery slope that would ultimately find me face to face with my teacher asking me “what’s going on?” The short answer: I don't really care. The slightly longer one: I pretty much have no ambition.
Saying I have “no ambition” is probably an overstatement, but they definitely aren’t as high as they used to be. I’ve had three answers my whole life to the question of what I wanted to be when I grew up. My answer from ages 4-7 was I wanted to be “the king.” Not The King as in Elvis, but a king with a crown, a throne and absolute power. I soon realized that I wasn't in the correct bloodline for that position and from about 7-13, my dream job turned to being an astronaut. I think it was watching a Treehouse of Horror episode of “The Simpsons” where Homer and Bart’s heads explode from a lack of oxygen that made me decide against it. And now, at 16, I’m at the point where “I don't know” is the best answer I can possibly muster.
One possible explanation for this newfound lack of drive could be that I don't want to adhere to Asian stereotypes. Everyone knows it; Asians do super well in school and are very ambitious to become doctors or lawyers or whatever. Further stereotypes include wearing New Balance and being short. If further proof is needed, watch the elevator scene in “Lost in Translation.”
I don't walk around my school wearing t-shirts with broken English or play my Nintendo DS while my teacher is talking, but containment within the Asian stereotype of being smart and competitive sounds like a pretty okay deal, and it’s not exactly a motivation-killer.
Another possible explanation could be that I don't see the use in learning all I’m learning. If I were to become slightly overwhelmed with geometry I wouldn't give up and suddenly complain that “I’m never going to use it” or say that learning history is useless because it is, in fact, history. I see the merit in learning all of it, and I enjoy it too. But I’ve always leaned more creative.
The fact that I’m writing this for myself and not for a class confirms this, but I really enjoy writing. I enjoy writing pretty much everything from analytical essays to fiction. I even get a thrill from the pressure of in-class writing. I don’t know if I’m ready to take the plunge and say what I want to do for a living is be a writer, but as time goes on, that seems to be more and more the case.
I try wholeheartedly in English. I read and enjoy all the books (even My Antonia, which seems to be the consensus “worst book” among my classmates) and pore over my essays once I finish them. If I’m doing that, why do I need to try in math or science or P.E. (which I would never, anyway)?
Again, I realize that my study habits are not quite exemplary, I made flashcards to help me in math this past year that I didn't look at and am now using as bookmarks. It’s one of my foremost goals to be the kind of student I used to be, dedicated and focused. I’m cautious to get my hopes up, however, as I don't exactly trust myself on keeping my resolutions. The other day, I had planned on going for a run. Instead I walked outside, decided it was too hot, came back inside, ate half a loaf of garlic bread and watched “Mad Men” in my underwear.
And if you’re wondering what my brother and I decided in regards to Taylor Swift’s live performances, it’s a topic that’s really too subjective. We would need a professional to come up with a truly solid decision on it. Someone with good taste coupled with a strong sensibility. In other words, we are not qualified to decide on this matter. We both sort of like “We Can’t Stop.”

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