by Jacky Shum
Beginnings are a part of everyone’s life, setting each of us on a new path of uncertainty.
While there are those who perceive these changes optimistically with open arms, I had always identified beginnings as the dangerous unknown.
My beginnings started off in the Monterey Park Hospital. Being born into a strictly traditional Chinese household, I was constantly disciplined, taught right from wrong, and to always bring honor to the family. (For those unfamiliar with the importance of maintaining honor in the Chinese culture just think the “Mulan ‘Honor to us all’ soundtrack.”)
These traditional ideals have stuck with me for as long as I can remember, teaching me to be wary of everything. Putting caution before all else, I viewed beginnings pessimistically as the uncertainty made me fearful of the possibilities.
I attended Bella Vista Elementary in first grade and immediately I swayed away from my peers. Since I never had interaction with anyone else from a different cultural background, I stuck to my teachings and kept people at an arm’s length. All of them just seemed so childish and different; I didn’t connect with them. However, as time went on I felt myself begin to change, tired of loneliness, curiosity took the better of me and I wanted a friend.
Starting off, it did not really occur to me how challenging making friends could be. I was alone, shy, and since my family did not really understand the concept of “jokes,” my sense of humor was at an all-time low. The best I could manage at the time were simple “knock-knock jokes,” and while everyone else was asking why the chicken crossed the road, I asked why we were not eating the chicken.
One day a strange, Chinese, nearly bald-headed boy asked me to join him in a game of “tag” and introduced himself to me. At first I wasn’t sure why he was being so nice to me, so I was careful around him, but as he got more persistent I began to open up to him. It amazed me how he genuinely wanted to be my friend and took an interest in what I had to say. What baffled me even more was how he could act so kind and open towards others, even though we had the same cultural background. We formed a long-lasting friendship, and to this day we have continued to make many memories.
Learning from my roots, I still believe that beginnings are full of uncertain possibilities. However, learning from past experience, I now believe that some beginnings are worth starting.
by Crystal Huang
I used to abhor beginnings because I never knew what to expect from them.
Growing up, I had a rigid personality, so I never did anything with which I was not familiar. Beginnings were what I hated the most because they meant I was doing something out of my comfort zone.
However, as I grew older, I slowly grew out of my shell. When I began high school, I was forced to try activities I had never done before. This then forced me to have new perspectives on what beginnings could mean or provide. Beginnings are meaningful and thrilling to me now because of the people I have had the opportunity to meet.
I transferred from Brightwood Elementary the summer before freshman year. I started the year off without knowing a single person except one senior, my cousin. We grew up together and he had always been my mentor and guide, helping me with homework and telling me what high school was like. He even drove me to school every day, but once we got to school, we went our separate ways.
The first couple of days in school were tough for me. I did not know anyone, and everyone else I saw already had his or her own group of friends. I felt like I was not allowed to talk to any of them because I had not attended middle school with them. I was the outsider. During nutrition and lunch, I sat in the same spot outside every day, the stairs at A-Building near the bungalows, where I was on my phone, messaging my friends about how much I missed them and how high school was treating them.
As the days passed, I grew more comfortable with my classmates. I was able to start to talk and make conversation with them. Then, unexpectedly, one day a freshman came up to me as I was walking to Mr. Lok’s class. I recognized her from fifth period P.E. After our conversation, we talked to each other in P.E. Soon, the two of us also spent time together during lunch, and I was able to meet more people.
Since my freshman year started at a different high school and school district, I was able to meet a whole new group of people. At the beginning of the year, I had no one to talk to and no friends. But as I shifted my perspective, I no longer felt like an outsider. I saw it as an opportunity. I was here, at a new school, and had the chance to make so many friends.
Change is all about perspective. It can be seen as the end or as a new beginning. All beginnings can be daunting, but ultimately they give us the chance to turn over a new leaf and achieve new aspirations.