Growing up in the heart of Silicon Valley, I’ve been exposed to various communities of people from an array of heritages. I mean, with so many Asians, this place has to be diverse, right?
The fact is, it’s not. The Bay Area is crammed with so many boba, ramen and Indian chains that there isn’t much space for different perspectives. Everyone is super smart and ready to enter the world of engineering or pre-med. For the most part, anyone pursuing liberal arts, like me, is looked down upon.
This is obviously bad, right?
Actually, it’s not. Our immigrant parents worked extremely hard to get here, and they don’t want anything but the best for their children. Although they often do a terrible job of expressing it, many of our first-generation immigrant parents love us and want us to excel, and the only way they know how to ensure that is by putting us under unmerciful amounts of stress.
So when I go to college, I should be relieved to finally get out of this uber competitive/toxic environment, right?
Honestly, no, I won’t. Growing up in this discipline-based and goal-oriented environment has made it the only environment I’ve ever known — it has become my life and identity. There are many aspects of a “traditional high school experience” I’ve never explored and truly known –– I’ve never needed a job to pay the bills at home, seen a filled football stadium, had a locker or taken the bus to school. I’m unaccustomed to those stereotypes, and even though I’m cultured according to Cupertino’s standards, I’m uncultured according to America’s standards.
As a predominantly liberal area, the Bay Area’s political atmosphere is overwhelmingly progressive. As a registered Democrat and a part of a small program called Youth and Government, I have strong opinions on certain issues. But now, I’m jumping deep into the red state of Indiana, and I realized that my ideals might not align with the student community like it did at MVHS. I’m not saying I have a problem with Republicans – I genuinely don’t – but I’ve never really interacted with a far-right person, and I’m scared I’m going to say something that might offend people.
As a non-STEM kid in this world of coding and calculus, I’ve often felt like I was given hope but then ran out of steam. But there were two aspects of my life that made all my problems go away.
First, Bhangra. Joining this dance team was the second best decision I made in high school (after journalism). Bhangra taught me the importance of fundamentals. I’m an Indian classical trained dancer, and without the foundations of dance, I wouldn’t be able to do Bhangra. Bhangra taught me to be fierce and to let go. Performing the wildly energetic dance on stage and screaming “MV BHANGRA” at the top of my lungs was often the only thing that kept me sane. Even if I get a chance to do Bhangra again, I will never be part of MV Bhangra again. No more dangerous car rides, no more blasting Bollywood music and no more #bruahh.
And of course, El Estoque. A111 was the classroom where I frantically crammed for tests, fought with my best friend and had more mental breakdowns than I can count (Okay, technically, this is in A112 and the studio). But every time I published a story (even the not-so-excellent ones), each time I covered a game and when I eventually became a sports editor, I was given a purpose. I definitely was not the best at journalism – I’ve received a lot of criticism along the way – but journalism has made me into a stronger person. I’ve learned how to stand up for what I knew was right for a story and be a strong leader as an editor. Even if I get a chance to write again, I will never be a part of the El Estoque family again. No more late nights, no more section edits and no more #getstoqued.
With so many moments of joy and true passion in those two activities I did, where was the space for any problems? To me, it seemed that one by one, they all just faded away.
Through all my downfalls, all I can say is, at least it was here in Cupertino. This crazy place has given me a nurtured home that will serve as a launchpad for my future. So dear Cupertino, I can’t count the reasons I should stay. But I love you more than words can say.