At one point in my life, I could have claimed to emotionally identify with an egg.

When I was younger, my mom would read nursery rhymes to me before bed. A particular one that has stuck with me is the story of Humpty Dumpty; an overeager egg who risked climbing to the top of a wall, only to fall and shatter. I had believed that children’s nursery rhymes were supposed to have happily ever afters but this was no fairytale.

My adolescent mind could not grasp the concept that someone who was as ebullient as Humpty Dumpty could have such misfortune befall upon him. At a young age, I realized: Life is not fair.
For a long time, I carried this with me. The fear of grabbing the short end of the stick Life held in its fist led to me never even reaching my hand out. Sure, in high school I partook in some extracurriculars but it was only in those that I was sure I’d be proficient in. Running the risk of failing wasn’t something I was willing to chance and this fear quickly developed into a dependency. I became a burden on the people around me, relying on them to provide me with the fulfillment I could not obtain on my own.

This is my high school yearbook and look! There’s me on the tennis team!

I knew something was missing. I was just too scared at the time to find out what it was.

But then the last year of high school rolled around and December was upon us; it was time for seniors to begin submitting their college applications. The application consisted of sections requiring me to state any involvement I’d had in sports, competitions, volunteer work, etc. Colleges wanted to know what experiences in my life had made me me but I had not done anything remarkable up to that point that was worth divulging. It pained me to come to terms with this, upon seeing the proof glaring right at me from the many blank spaces in my application.
Trust me, I could sense the irony in the situation. My stubbornness to avoid failing was a direct result to now feeling like an utter failure.

I knew then that I couldn’t continue on like this. This phobia I had needed to be rectified immediately. I struggled for weeks to develop a solution that would make me feel as if I were actually living my life, instead of simply existing. Every thought I entertained I’d eventually brush off as impossible. After some time, I understood that I would never be able to thrive if I remained where I was.

Imagine a single sunflower struggling to survive while residing in the middle of a field of weeds. One can give it more water or sunlight in hopes of it flourishing but changing one aspect of its existence isn’t enough when its surrounded by a steady stream of toxicity. One needs to either change the environment or remove the sunflower from it. Similarly, I was surrounded by constant reminders of my shortcomings. I knew that if I stayed in New Jersey, I would end up going to the state college, Rutgers University (a mere 25 minute drive away from home), and remain haunted by my past. I needed to be uprooted, so that I could plant myself elsewhere, for any chance at thriving.

Thoughts of pursuing an undergraduate degree out of state eventually turned into dreams of studying abroad. Why even bother staying in America? If I were to have a new beginning, why not do it as far away from my past as I can go? Why not go halfway across the world? Why not, say, to New Zealand?

I know what you’re thinking: That escalated quickly. But coming to The University of Auckland is my first act of defiance against my past self. Maybe I’m filled with unrealistic optimism and New Zealand will not provide me with the inspiration I’ve been hoping for since being accepted to the University. Maybe it’ll actually be everything I’d ever dreamed of and this will be the beginning of a wonderful practice where I take chances and see where life takes me. Who knows? I sure don’t… but maybe that’s the whole point. I welcome whatever comes with open arms.
Everyone has ups and downs in their lives, but it is whether we allow these shortcomings to stop us from succeeding that defines us. I do not plan on capitulating to obstacles life throws my way. For too long, I depended on others to make me whole when, in reality, that power had always resided within me.

I’m no longer afraid to put myself back together again.

This is me at my high school graduation, obviously excited for my future and what’s to come!