Editor’s Note: letting go of mottos and prioritizing myself

by Kaitlin Hsu, Editor-in-chief

“Five minutes early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.”

“Positive mental attitude.”

“Everything happens for a reason.”

“Everything does not happen for a reason.”

“Failure is the path to success.”

“Fake it until you make it.”

Harker (and Silicon Valley in general) is a special place. Even if I’m not responsible, I should care deeply about my relationships with others and their wellbeing.

Many people I’ve encountered throughout high school, both in and out of the Harker community, operate with some sort of life motto. Personally, “supreme confidence” is my aphorism of choice.

It’s common to be inundated with conflicting messages of a similar strain—from friends, teachers, family members and even strangers.

I’ve been told to stand up for myself and not be a pushover, and in the next breath, the same person tells me to let go; I need to learn to live with people’s flaws. I should strive to eat healthy and go to the gym regularly, yet also accept how I naturally look without concern for external standards.

Perhaps the contradiction most clearly felt is the impulse to externalize while also maintaining an interior: be mindful those around me;

But, I must also put my own desires first. Prioritizing self-care, alone time and “Parks and Recreation’s” “Treat Yo’ Self” attitude comes before satisfying the needs of the people around me.

And, these tough decisions will eventually present themselves: do I help an acquaintance struggling with homework or take a nap because of a late night designing the newspaper?

The true answer probably lies somewhere in the gray area between every duality, but it often seems that the only way forward is to cleave to one half of the binary. If I don’t invest my 100 percent into an extreme, it sometimes feels as if I’m meandering down a path to lukewarm mediocrity.

In reality, no one is ever going to make the right choice in every scenario—even equipped with the pithiest of sayings. The terrifying tangle of life can be simplified with a motto, but sometimes it’s necessary to acknowledge the complexities inherent in existence.

Mottos are fun and act as a whimsical heuristic in most situations. I definitely won’t stop using “supreme confidence” to hype myself up before an interview or a test.

But, it’s okay to take a little more time to figure out how to act. In these formative four years, filled with opportunity, worries and joys, being deliberate in everyday judgements has helped me more than frantic ranting or that extra hour of studying (and definitely more than caffeine).

It might help you, too.

This piece was originally published in the pages of the Winged Post on March 29, 2018.