Summer 2018 Reflection

Soon, I leave for UCLA.

This final childhood summer will be forever remembered as the Summer of Reflection.

When I visited China for the first time in nine years, experiencing undeserved love and hospitality from relatives I barely knew, I reflected on the meaning of family.

When I taught physics and coached basketball, watching students gain the courage to participate in class and seeing young athletes learn to balance passion and sportsmanship, I reflected on the joy of watching others grow.

I then decided that I’d learn how to play the ukulele. Make my first contribution to an open-source coding project. Learn how to create a mobile app. Through these experiences, I reflected on the Power of Yet, the notion of self-improvement, and ultimately, the joy of watching MYSELF grow.

But now, whenever I grab an In-N-Out Double-Double from PacCom, hike on Mill Creek Rd, walk into Mission Coffee, run laps around the MSJ track, drive down Washington Blvd towards the sunset, or admire the night city lights from the top of Pine Ave...

I can’t help but reminisce about this familiar place that I will be leaving soon. As summer comes to an end, it’s about time I reflect on Mission San Jose. Home.

In 3rd grade, when I first transferred to MSJE, I remember walking up to the front of the class to turn in an in-class math worksheet. Surprised was me when I discovered that the red plastic basket already had papers inside. For the first time ever, I wasn't first!

You're probably cringing at my decision to report this shallow memory, but it truly does hold a place in my heart. It symbolizes a role that Fremont played in my life. Why? Because I was a kid who burst with pride, all the time! Before I moved here, I thought I was at the top of the world. My youthful ego was inflated by just about everything--success after success in baby-hood up to elementary school (even after the Red Basket Incident). But in 10th-grade English, I poured my soul into every essay and project and test and still could not get that "A" I so desired to have (yeah I care about grades, lol oops). During summer league basketball practice, I was given a 5-meter head start for a liner and still finished last. And even the little things, such as lacking the eloquence to defend my opinion in a conversation with intellectually superior peers, showed me that I was anything but the big fish.

Through whittling my arrogance, Fremont showed me that in my life, I am not the main character. I love how MSJ students are called the Warriors because... MSJ really trained me to become a warrior. And it surrounded me with a whole ton of other warriors. Sure, I've lost some confidence in myself, but in return I've had role models and inspirations surrounding me every single day. In exchange for my pride, I was given a clear direction (bigger fish lol) to strive for. And I cannot thank MSJ enough for that.

(Of course, it would be unfair to leave out the dark times. With long, passionless, fear-of-failure nights spent finishing monstrous homework assignments, on top of studying, on top of application deadlines, on top of extracurricular responsibilities. (I concede, my time-management was not the best.) Teachers, parents, kids... we all push each other so hard. Sometimes, this pressure helps push us forward. But other times, it crushes us. Watching those around me succumb to the stress and break down and all that really got to me. I won't disclose whether I ever broke down or not. It really can't be blamed on any particular entity, but MSJ does have its inarguable (major) flaws, and I pray it will only improve from where it's at. I really do hope that one day I can come back and help out with that.)

There are a million more ways that Home has shaped me, but what I discussed above is probably the biggest one, so I'll leave it at that. But what I described, I feel, is truly a testament to the unique culture bubble that is "Mission." I really would not choose to spend my childhood years anywhere else (small sample bias, I know, but I loved this place so yeah). To all who have been in my life, thank you so much for making me who I am today. To my family, closest friends, etc. etc. (you know who you are), thank you even more for shaping me. This sounds generic, I know, but these are genuine feelings.

Genuine feelings. That's why I love writing things and putting them in a time capsule. I'll probably laugh at this shit like 10 years from now, at now naïve I was and how close-minded I was. In fact, I already feel like spending the entire reflection talking about how MSJ killed my ego is probably NOT a good idea. Also, I know I sound pretty immature in a lot of what I said above. But what's important is that these are my true feelings right NOW, whether I like them or not. What matters is that I'm being true to myself.

Which is something else I learned from my time at MSJ, through years of heavy courseloads and numerous extracurriculars and college-chasing--genuine, long-term happiness can only really be achieved by being true to yourself.

Good-bye, Home. I'm going to leave you and life is going to go on. But it's going to be fun thinking about how you'll grow and change without me. And it's going to be even more fun thinking about how I'll grow and change without you.

-Max