Senior Column — Robinson Lee ’22


Robinson Lee, Editor-in-Chief

First of all, an apology to myself. I apologize for my inability to encapsulate all that you are and everything that you’ve been through these past four years in these short lines. I’ve written about you so much, but yet each time I still feel like I fail to give you the justice you deserve. All I can ask you to do is to pick up the fragments of who you once were, five, ten, forty years from now in the puzzle pieces of writing I’ve created for you in articles, essays, speeches, and letters such as these and trust that you carry in your heart this legacy and these life experiences. I speak to you, me, as the vicar of your experience even as I can only grasp at a fraction of it.

Competition. It’s a word that makes your blood boil with how it simultaneously describes the pressure you’ve been stuck in but also misses the mark on a few key details. You’ve been grateful enough through happenstance and your selectivity of social interactions to not see the most visceral gnashing-of-teeth worst of it. Instead of rumors, betrayal, and sabotage, you’ve seen mostly the internal pressure factor of it. The false implicit idea that told you that you are solely responsible for your grade since you could remember the beginnings of your academic life. The lecturing of people, who don’t know anything about you, telling you that this activity or that activity is what colleges like to see. The lack of any boundaries or barriers telling yourself that you should stop working, until it leads you to imagine yourself on the edge of the Grand Canyon in Dec. 2020, not knowing what to do with yourself through the purgatory of distance learning. Part of you is jovial that you face a path bright with the tools to control these lies and doubts, but another part of you asks: “How many cherished friends will have to go through the same things as I do?” “Hopeless existentialism much?” you ask. Yes. But that’s why you do what you can.

Self-worth. That spark, that soul, that essence, that organ, that ichor, that gift from God that you string along sometimes forgetting it exists but always there. Do you remember what the Reverend Ken Fong told you all those years ago when you were devastated with failure and self-resentment? You have an innate value. As a Christian you believe it comes from God, but everyone has that worth, Christian or not. It’s a value that has been consistent within ourselves as human beings. That value has existed before we were born and we were just a concept our parents thought about while sitting on the couch. It’s a value that no award, accomplishment, honor, GPA, acceptance letter, grade, top 1% designation, or anyone else for that matter can truly define. You are wonderful, bright, ambitious, grounded, and worthy of being loved. You wish that everyone else around you knew that they are also those things as well. 

Judgment. Something that you struggle with. You try to find a balance and maintain acceptance but unconsciously time and time again you find yourself pondering about what you think about so-and-so without knowing the full details of their life story. It comes about because you judge yourself too harshly. Those impulses of condemning yourself for being a monstrous bully, an immature sprite, a foolish truster, and a bearer of embarrassment after embarrassment all those years ago haunts your mind and eclipses the truth in front of you. You’ve grown up from all of those things. You’ve come so far. Your conscience now tells you to be open-minded and curious. Understand to give yourself grace and peace, and you’ll learn how to be so with others as well. Even when you think you are absolutely right, and may possibly be so, give lenience and grace as you may never know the full story. As you extend that hand to others, you hope that others take that hand but extend theirs as well.

Senioritis. An alias that burnout hides under along with its nicknames procrastination and laziness. No, you are not lazy. That doesn’t encompass your being. You love to read, to learn, to socialize, to feel like you are doing something meaningful, and spend time with the people around you. Your laziness manifests in not wanting to move the mouse and keyboard from your workspace to your room to play Europa Universalis IV. When you ended up crashing hard when quarantine first started, spending weeks playing Fire Emblem: Three Houses, that was an indication that your mind and body wasn’t getting the rest it needed to so your subconscious took the steps that were needed that you weren’t planning on taking yourself. And now what you’ve been dealing with is severe burnout. The end of a long journey is nigh, and you finally have that sense of certainty that you’ve been looking for since Mar. 2020. Objectively, you’ve had the least amount of work you’ve had in these past four years. Yet each page of Japanese homework still intimidates you, and sometimes thinking about these small tasks gets your preemptively overwhelmed. Take a deep breath and do what you can each day. You’ll have the time ahead of you to enjoy yourself.

Before I end this time, it is crucial that you recall those who have supported you all this time. Gratitude to all of the teachers who have watched you learn and grow, balancing rigor with lenience whenever possible. Especially thanks to Ms. Novak and Mrs. Lee for keeping Speech and Debate and The Quill alive and well as the essential foundations for my education beyond core academics. Spell thanks to Mr. Jones and Mr. Maertens for letting you invade their classroom during lunch to entertain discussions about history and colonialism interspersed with casual conversation. Write out appreciation to the upperclassmen and alumni friends in sharing their insights and lives with me along with many, many jokes on geopolitical conflicts and current events. I am also grateful to the underclassmen who have been a joy to help and who I look forward to seeing prosper beyond my expectations. As for my fellow class of `22 friends, I will always treasure the time we’ve spent together, in humor, in sorrow, in rage, in joy, and in fellowship. Recalling everything that we’ve been through together makes me smile. Thanks to my mentors who have guided me through turbulence and remain an inspiration in my life. Lastly, but not least, my parents. Umma, Dad I’m not sure what I would do without you. You’ve blessed me with so much by being a part of my life. I hope you don’t miss me too much.

For you, Robinson, I hope you ground yourself in your experience and take what you’ve learned in all of these moments of brightness and despair to compel yourself forward. As Dad says, “We do what we can.”


Peace be with you,

​Robinson Lee