Humans of Harker: Flexible to change

Aditi Anthapur discovers herself through dance, art and culture

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Humans of Harker: Flexible to change

“Dance allows me to access a creative side of [myself] that I don't usually get to experience when [I’m] in this routine of school and homework and tests and studying all the time,” Aditi Anthapur (12) said. “I think it pushes me in a different way, rather than how schoolwork pushes me to study harder. This pushes me to improve myself because I want to, not because I'm being set against other people.”

“Dance allows me to access a creative side of [myself] that I don't usually get to experience when [I’m] in this routine of school and homework and tests and studying all the time,” Aditi Anthapur (12) said. “I think it pushes me in a different way, rather than how schoolwork pushes me to study harder. This pushes me to improve myself because I want to, not because I'm being set against other people.”

Anna Vazhaeparambil

“Dance allows me to access a creative side of [myself] that I don't usually get to experience when [I’m] in this routine of school and homework and tests and studying all the time,” Aditi Anthapur (12) said. “I think it pushes me in a different way, rather than how schoolwork pushes me to study harder. This pushes me to improve myself because I want to, not because I'm being set against other people.”

Anna Vazhaeparambil

Anna Vazhaeparambil

“Dance allows me to access a creative side of [myself] that I don't usually get to experience when [I’m] in this routine of school and homework and tests and studying all the time,” Aditi Anthapur (12) said. “I think it pushes me in a different way, rather than how schoolwork pushes me to study harder. This pushes me to improve myself because I want to, not because I'm being set against other people.”

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Hair fluttering lightly in the wind, eyes thoughtfully looking into the distance, Aditi Anthapur (12) rests comfortably on the bleachers outside of Shah, smiling broadly as she recalls the fleeting memories from when she performed her last dance in the upper school Dance Show: flashing lights, blaring music and loud screams from the audience.

Although she has been performing in the show ever since she was a sixth grader, Aditi’s experience with dancing extends much farther, going all the way back to taking ballet classes as a young child. Despite dropping the activity soon after in favor of trying out other interests, like soccer, piano and guitar, she eventually gravitated back towards dance years later, resuming ballet lessons, participating in the dance shows and joining the Harker dance team in her sophomore year.

Senior Christie Chen, who has been dancing with Aditi for years, admires her friend’s dedication to the team and the lively personality she brings to the dance room.

“Aditi is one of the quirkiest people I know,” Christie said. “It’s strange how she can be so knowledgeable about everything that goes on around her. She’s genuine and people like her for nothing more than what she is.”

When asked what she specifically loves about dance, Aditi emphasizes her dislike for the cliche response of it being a way to express herself. For her, dance is an escape from any stress she may be dealing with and an opportunity to challenge herself in a positive, open-minded environment.

“Dance allows me to access a creative side of [myself] that I don’t usually get to experience when [I’m] in this routine of school and homework and tests and studying all the time,” she said. “I think it pushes me in a different way, rather than how schoolwork pushes me to study harder. This pushes me to improve myself because I want to, not because I’m being set against other people.”

Aditi applies this same mindset to art, a hobby she recently picked up in her senior year. Although she initially signed up for Drawing, a semester-long studio class, solely for the credits, her passion for the subject sparked an interest in continuing to pursue art, desiring to improve her skills and overcome the lack of confidence she had originally felt about her work.

“I think earlier when I was drawing, I tended to sort of compare myself to others and look at my work and be like, ‘wow, this stinks,’” Aditi said. “And even if it did, I guess now I have a better outlook because I don’t think it’s about comparing yourself to other people’s work, but it’s more about developing your own work and looking at your own progress.”

About to graduate in a month, Aditi believes that this willingness to continue experimenting with art and drawing instead of quitting at the first sign of difficulty is also a sign of the new perspectives she has acquired as a senior after reflecting on growing up in the Bay Area and in such a competitive climate.

“Now that I have time to reflect, I realize a lot of the beginning of my high school felt like me being compared to everyone else, especially at this school and in the Silicon Valley,” she said. “It can feel really competitive and I fell into that mindset, but realistically, I should have just focused on my own progress and realized that even if I might not be moving as far forward as someone else, at least it’s forward.”

Aditi’s dedication to stay true to herself despite the pressure to compare her achievements to those of the people around her is a quality that close friend Sonal Muthal (12) also admires in her.

“Ever since I met her at my sister’s birthday party, I got this vibe that she was something else,” Sonal said, having known Aditi since the fifth grade. “She just has the capability to walk into a room and be herself completely, and I really appreciate that.”

No longer feeling the need to compare herself to the people around her is one of the many lessons Aditi learned since moving back to the United States in the second grade after living in India for two years due to her father’s job. Shy and introverted, she initially dealt with a hard transition, facing an abrupt culture shock, missing her extended family across the world and being behind academically in regards to her peers.

“I lived a really different life in India,” Aditi said. “I was constantly surrounded by my family and I felt a really strong sense of camaraderie and a familial bond, but when I moved back here, it was literally just me, my mom, and my sister.”

Despite these obstacles, the transition to the US also greatly shaped who she is today. Senior Neha Premakumar smiles as she recalls how Aditi has always sought to share her culture with her friends, for example even with the mere introduction to the “Subtle Curry Traits” Facebook page.

“[Her Indian culture] is genuinely a really big part of her life and her identity,” Neha said. “She even educates me about it because it’s not that huge of a part of my identity, so there’s always something to learn from her.”

Furthermore, the changes Aditi experienced throughout her life have taught her to depend on the people around her, as she forms new relationships to replace the ones she lost and re-adjusts to her life in America.

“I appreciate my friends so much. I love all of them, and high school would not be the same without them,” Aditi said. “We genuinely love hanging out with each other, and they push me to be better and to improve myself. I think they’re definitely my family that’s not my family.”

Additional reporting by Sydney Takemoto.