A Vaccine for the Future
Ming Wei Hung, Division 3, College freshman #ws18e-s2d3

Any parent would get anxious at the thought of their child returning home alone at night, and rightfully so. Not only does this make easy picking for abductors, but also, such pedestrian travel is a waste of time compared to a short car ride home. Unfortunately for my parents, I relish traveling alone. Despite its costs, a time-consuming stroll through this secure, elderly neighborhood is not time spent in vain. Rather, I rebuild my character, reflecting upon my choices in the short peaceful moments we city folk enjoy so rarely, as even minutes spent in silence help me make the right decision more so than days and days spent in busy speech. Pondering in a reflective walk, my lack of confidence fuels regret, and as I try to look forward, these regrets anchor me to the past, and three weeks lost will soon be three months of precious summer, almost as if my fear of my past doubtfulness is propagating itself through my recollections, my very fear. Having opened a new chapter by graduating, I hope to contain these character flaws, through cautious reflections, to build upon my mistakes rather than dwell on them, and to fight indecisiveness with deliberation.

Recently, on a short journey back from work, I tried to imagine how some of my friends had landed jobs at Amazon, while I was here teaching Geometry. “Had I made the wrong choices? Should I have began job interviews earlier?” Maybe I shouldn’t have hesitated, and gone ahead with a job search earlier. Underlying these simple losses, however, is my history of indecisiveness and lack of confidence. What had it cost me? It cost me too much.

It cost my friends and I a farewell gathering. On this short walk I recall the weeks following graduation, when my best friend David and I could not yet forgive the ties of highschool, and decided to plan an outing with many other schoolmates as a farewell before we go our separate ways. For long weeks we oscillated between a trip to the OC night market and a gathering at the Puente Hills mall. Despite my position as lead organizer, whenever our group settled on a site, my oscillations spread like a plague, and caused everyone to waver in their own choices.

As many of our group began preparing to leave for college visits and family vacations, our time grew short, and a decision was needed. Despite the many weeks we had, I still couldn’t make my decision. Then, on a Wednesday, I announced our meeting place, days before the OC Night Market opening, yet, nobody replied. My indecisiveness had left even my closest friends confused, and left them to plan events of their own. They lost their time, and likewise, I lost a chance to see them before we go our separate ways. How ironic is it, that this trait, which is supposed to help me make balanced decisions, would instead lead to a rushed and unproductive pathway? As I walk, reflecting, I recall the many opportunities I have lost to hesitation, as well as the time spent in vain, overthinking, and I really wish I had settled on a meeting place sooner.

It cost my Boy Scout troop a backpacking trip to the Grand Canyon when I was Senior Patrol Leader, my school’s horticulture club a chance to leave our legacy, a greenhouse, when I was Vice President. In the time spent in thoughtful silence, I realize that my regrets are nothing more than a repetition of this trait which I fear most: doubt. Having made over a thousand trips through this neighborhood, thoughtful silence has revealed that my shaming of the past only confirms a lack of confidence, urging me not to regret the past as a firm first step. As we grow, our parents and community lose influence over our actions, and it becomes increasingly important to stand firm in what we do and make our own choices with weight in each step. Only when I begin to act without restraints of mind will I truly have removed these restraints which have kept me doubtful and skeptical.

Of course, if I had a button to relive the past four years, I would smash it without hesitation. I would rebuild the past with confidence in every step and I would take on every unique chance, because the safe-haven of unlimited learning and chances lessens with each grade level, and disappears at graduation. But unless I ever create one, I will firmly grasp the values which this flawed history has taught me; thus, my confidence starts here, a fitting transition from high school to college. Thus my answer to my original question: No, I had not made the wrong choices, and no, there’s nothing wrong with beginning the job interviews later. I enjoy spending time with my math students, and I enjoy having this slow-paced summer to reflect upon myself. I may have missed a chance to see my best friends, but if I can rebuild my character by standing firm, I can continue to catch every opportunity, including opportunities in the future to meet with them again, for I have much time left. I have about twenty thousand days left, and although I let the past thousand slip, by taking initiative for myself, and taking every opportunity without wavering, I will be taking even greater strides towards a more fulfilling life. I want to feel the aura of camaraderie. I want to make my decisions without doubt, knowing that I am living out this privileged life to the fullest. For these I am willing to endure my mistakes in hopes of a greater future.

From the reflections, I reviewed my past, and diagnosed my faults: a lack of confidence. And though I wish I hadn’t been so naive, I have nothing to change, for having had this plague, I have also gained its vaccine, preventing me from making the same mistake later on. If I could go back to the past, I would remind myself to put more certainty behind every choice, not only for the sake of efficiency, but more importantly the time my friends and I hold so preciously. And for the sake of even greater growth I urge you, my friends and family, to review the painful and regrettable mistakes, as I have, in order to free yourselves from your own plague. Only after examining tests which we have passed can we strive for improvement, as I strive to walk my way to success, with pride and confidence in each step.
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