Every 24 hours, my life is uprooted again. Since Tuesday, every 24 hours has changed my future. Every 24 hours, a new update. Every 24 hours, a new sinking feeling in my chest. Amidst the rapid changes, there were some horrific moments on campus that left me shell-shocked.
Warning: The following content contains sensitive material about sexual assault.
Disposable cameras full of pictures of two-year-old me, propped up on the couch next to my dad, watching the Los Angeles Lakers. From a very young age, I was raised as a Lakers fan, bleeding purple and gold. To be proud of being from Los Angeles was tied directly to being a Lakers fan and to yelling “KOBE” at the TV, outside the Staples Center and next to the court. My dad, who raised me to be a diehard Kobe Bryant fan, started watching the Lakers because of how spectacular Kobe was. It was more than basketball to him — this was his way of feeling like he belonged in America.
On the way to a prelim on Halloween night, rain washed away any possibility of a bus coming through the flooded intersection of CTB. I crossed the street and had the right of way when a car decided to turn, stopped inches away from me and the driver rolled down the window. A racial slur escaped from the window, along with some choice phrases about how I failed to see with my small eyes. At first, I couldn’t believe that I was called a racial slur at Cornell. I then remembered that a similar event happened to me freshman year.
Warning: The following content contains sensitive material about mental health, depression and suicide. Two days before last year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, I found out one of my best friends from middle school died by suicide. He was like me in every sense. We did middle school debate together and agreed that we peaked then, grew up in a predominantly Asian community filled with academic competition and parental stressors, attended an Ivy League institution (he went to Columbia) and started out as pre-meds (he later switched to finance while somehow I still cling to that track). After I found out about his death, I cried for two hours and then channeled all of my energy into repressing the news to execute the best MHAW I could muster.
I collapsed into a chair in Libe with my third coffee of the day in hand. It was a typical college experience: running on little to no sleep for the third night in a row, desperately trying to cling on to every single neuron as I tried to finish everything before I lost another night of sleep. As I let out a long sigh, my friend shot daggers at me with her eyes. “What?” I asked, not entirely hiding my exasperation. “This is the second plastic straw you used today,” she replied, angry at my apparent lack of environmentalist fervor.
I lived it. I did what everyone tells you not to do when you first go to college. By Sept. 12 of my freshman year, I got into a serious long-term relationship. My freshman year was then filled with sleeping over (in a double), no longer putting on makeup because I was cuffed and spending hours studying with one person.