Senior Column — Anya Yang ’22


Anya Yang, Editor-in-Chief

I’ve spent the past few years of my high school career trying to reinvent myself. Over and over again, I map out the next best steps to achieving a shiny new identity. Am I a pro-athlete? (No, never, and freshman badminton tryouts hammered that home.) Am I a math prodigy? (No, AP Calculus has permanently turned numbers into traumatic little symbols for me.) Am I destined to be a world-famous cosmetologist? (Definitely not, let’s not discuss my sophomore year makeup mishaps.)

As a freshman, I struggled to feel content with my own strengths and weaknesses. Entering a school where classmates casually conducted research at universities and skipped five grades of math convinced me that my apprehension towards STEM was downright wrong. (Forcing myself to take AP Biology was the wake-up call I needed to steer me towards anything unrelated to those dreaded S-building halls.)

I maintained a strict distance between my desires and my motivations. My goal, like any other Arcadia High School (AHS) student, was to attend a top university and end my senior year with a flawless GPA. Before I could even consider dropping an AP class that made me downright miserable, the thought was gone as if it’d never been there to begin with. When I felt a knot in my stomach at the pile of responsibilities I’d taken on––ever the yes-girl with no sense of professional boundaries––I unraveled it as quickly as I could. The sting in my eyes as I stared at a “B” on my PowerSchool faded away with a pinch to my nose, reminding myself that trivial emotions wouldn’t cure my terminal procrastination. For much too long, I refused myself the most basic privilege of accepting my flaws without any strings attached.

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve witnessed the ebbs and flows of fate sway my life’s path. I stopped trying to be the perfect pre-med steminist (unfortunately, Grey’s Anatomy lost its appeal within half a year) and embraced my love for writing through organizations like The Quill and DCI. I learned to let go of friendships that I clung so desperately to, choosing instead to spend time with the people who bring me happiness and unconditional love. And I am still learning to accept myself for who I am––cheesy as it sounds––because I think I truly deserve to appreciate my own worth.

The strangest things have brought me joy throughout these muddled four years. Collectible Japanese kewpies, late-night drives with the sunroof down, oddly-specific Spotify playlists, sunny days spent skateboarding in the suburbs with my best friend, USA Today crossword puzzles, and gorgeously written fanfiction have all served as perfect little outlets for me to cherish my own happiness. In the glow of my pink childhood room, I laugh and cry with friends over our telekinetic moments and guilty pleasure TV shows. It’s during these innocent instances of pure contentment that I feel so grateful to be who I am, surrounded by the people I love. 

Speaking of the people I love—I actually don’t know how I would’ve survived high school without my friends and family by my side. Unconditional love takes its shape in the form of my father, who insists on backing the car out for me any time I leave the house. Or Pauline Tong, who takes me to get Thai food after a stressful day without any questions besides which main platter we’re sharing. My mother, who always cracks three eggs for my omelet when I ask for just two, reminds me that there’s someone on this planet who cares for me so deeply that I’d never have to search anywhere else. And my chosen sisters– older jiejie Sandi Khine, or little meimei Kelly Cheng, bring me nothing but good advice and elaborate care packages during my times of distress.

A quote from my favorite book reminds me of the lessons I’ve learned from my time at Arcadia. Haruki Murakami states: “a certain type of perfection can only be realized through a limitless accumulation of the imperfect.” And when I reflect on all of my high school failures—embarrassing social blunders, consistently low math grades, and of course, my iconic freshman year badminton journey—I cringe, of course, but I also accept and acknowledge that they’ve made me who I am today.

I’ve stopped attempting to force myself into a mold that doesn’t fit me. If an Arcadia ice cube tray won’t accommodate my tears, Smiski figurines, asymmetrical eyelids, and dearest friends, I will simply create my own.