Tomorrow + Ejang2019

Tomorrow I’m going to president Trump’s inauguration in DC. I am not attending this event to support the new president, or to protest against him. I’m merely excited to watch history happen.

I also wanted to let you know that Ejang2019, my academic blog, is back! I’m posting revision guides for upcoming quizzes and tests… welcome back to high school, everyone.

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As always, thank you so much for reading, liking, and following my blog. Have a good night.

Tomorrow + Ejang2019

Dreaming Again

You are not here to prove yourself worthy. You are enough as you are. It’s okay to not be an expert in everything. It’s okay to fail. You’re here to learn. You’re here to discover. You’re here to be happy.

It’s so hard for me to believe the paragraph that I wrote above, when I have been told otherwise my whole life. My entire existence and self esteem is built upon performing well, upon being the quintessential good girl.

I don’t want to blame anyone. But from a very young age, my achievements were all that mattered. To my parents and teachers and almost everyone else, if you weren’t the best, then you were never going to be any good, and therefore you were useless. “Not good enough” was carved into my brain, every day. Maybe it is my own fault for believing them. When I reflect on just how broken I am today, I fall into the never-ending abyss of self hate.

Honestly, I lost so much on my mission to earn those straight A’s and more. Happiness. I spent every minute working or dreading the work I had to do. Sleep. I never went to bed before midnight after 1st grade. Friends. They became competitors in an endless race. Health. I destroyed myself physically and mentally while trying to be perfect. Self worth. I was never content with who I was, unless I performed at the highest level possible.

And my biggest loss? Dreams.

When I was younger, I wanted to be so many things—a bus driver, a painter, a ballerina, an astronaut, etc. Eventually I found out that I wasn’t the best at everything. For example, in 4th grade I took an accelerated math course, and while I had an A+, I wasn’t the fastest mental math whiz in my class. I was repeatedly told that I wasn’t good enough, and that I would never be able to succeed in any of the fields I expressed interest in. My friends scoffed when I told them I wanted to become an aerospace engineer.

I was engaging in many unhealthy behaviours to cope with the stress by then. My only healthy coping mechanism was writing. I found solace in writing as I continued to feign flawlessness. Writing was the only thing I found bearable, because when I wrote I was free.

When people asked me what my dream job was, what I wanted to do when I grew up, I said I wanted to be an author. Or a hermit philosopher, because I also liked thinking about things. People sneered at me and said I was wasting my expensive education. They told me that those weren’t real careers, and that I would never earn enough money to support myself.

I don’t know exactly when I stopped dreaming, but I did. It only got worse from there. I self harmed and thought about suicide constantly. Dreams matter because they give you purpose and excitement. I wanted to be loved, accepted, and recognised so badly that I lost sight of everything that actually mattered.

This post wasn’t supposed to be depressing.

I started writing this blog post because in the past few days, I’ve noticed myself dreaming. It’s amazing to be dreaming again, after so many years. It’s so nice to be thinking about the immense possibilities in my future, rather than to just be planning my next week’s assignments out.

Right now I can see myself as a secret agent, a criminologist, a counsellor, a writer, a professor, a homicide detective, a philosopher, and so much more. All of these visions feel real. I’ve even shared my aspirations with some friends and adults on campus, and none of them have told me that my dreams were too far-fetched, too unrealistic.

One more thing, and I hope this fits in with the rest of the stuff I’ve talked about so far… I’m starting to enjoy math class again. Sure, it’s difficult. It’s challenging. It gives me headaches. But I’m learning and conquering (understanding) new topics. This gives me so much confidence and excitement. In the beginning of the year, my goal was probably to get an A. Now, I have goals that go something like: “Today, I will learn how to rationalise the denominator when there are radicals.” I’m learning for the sake of learning. It really helps that there are no academic awards, rankings, or whatever at my school. And that I am the only person with access to my marks (my scores are still in the 90s). Now I’m planning to take Calculus and Statistics before I graduate, so that I’ll be better prepared for my dream careers.

I am not here to prove myself worthy. I am enough as I am. It’s okay to not be an expert in everything. It’s okay to fail. I’m here to learn. I’m here to discover. I’m here to be happy.

I’m beginning to believe in this, and in my dreams. There are still so many things from my past that I cannot erase. I still berate myself, I still find myself stuck in a fixed mindset, I still feel very inadequate. Maybe these things will hold me back forever, although I hope not. But I know it’s not too late to be curious, passionate, and excited. After all, I’m dreaming again.

Before I sign off, please please please never tell anyone that they’re not good enough. Loving something is so much more important than getting it all right or being the best. Everyone should be given the opportunity to dream, or to dream again.

Thank you for reading. Good night.

Dreaming Again

New Year’s Resolutions 2017

Hello! How has the new year been for you so far?

For me, it’s been great, especially this weekend! The Chamber Orchestra went on a field trip to watch the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Centre. I just loved pianist Jeremy Denk’s amazing rendition of Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand, and also the majestic ending to Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird. I also saw Roe at the Arena Stage. Roe is a play about the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case that legalised abortion in 1973. It was so interesting to learn more about the different positions on this difficult issue. It was mind-boggling. Before, I had a very bold stance on abortion, but his play showed me all these vivid stories, perspectives, and circumstances. And I’m not quite sure anymore. So, yes! 2017 has been interesting and productive. So far, so good.

Below are my new year’s resolutions, as I have promised. Hopefully at the end of this year I can smile and say I’ve kept and achieved all of them!

One. I will study Latin every day.
I will self-study 36 topics of Wheelock’s Latin (pages 1-303). I will also complete the Oxford Latin Course Part I before the end of sophomore year (May 2017). Over the summer, I will learn the material for Madeira’s Latin II course and test into Latin III for junior year.

Two. I will practise the piano every day.
I will perfect and add three of the following pieces to my piano repertoire by the end of sophomore year:
Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 16, Mvt. 1, 2, 3
Mozart’s 12 Variations in Ah! vous dirai-jie, maman
Mozart’s Fantasia in D Minor
Beethoven’s Rondo A Capriccio
Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, Mvt. 1
Beethoven’s Waldstein Sonata, Mvt. 1
Schumann/Tausig’s Der Kontrabandiste

Three. I will read (something that isn’t for school) every day.
I will finish reading 5 non-fiction, scholarly texts by the end of the year. The first of the five I will read is Ian Morris’ Why the West Rules—For Now.

Another challenge that I will try my best to tackle is a Boarding School Series on my blog. I will write a series of posts about boarding school—living in a dormitory, weekend activities, classes, etc. I have already started writing this series! I will begin posting in March, because that is when admissions decisions get mailed out and students start wondering what exactly their life will be like at a boarding school. I am very excited about sharing this series because I would have loved to know more about boarding school life before my first day at Madeira.

Yep! These are some of my long-term goals for the year. I encourage you to create some if you have not already, and share them with others! There’s a TED talk I once watched, telling people to never share their goals with others because the act of sharing the goals itself will make them feel like they have already achieved the goals. I can see why this might be the case for some people, but personally, sharing my goals gives me another incentive to achieve them. Just imagine yourself telling a friend, “Remember in January I said I’d (insert goal)? Guess what! I did it!” Or something like that, you know? It will probably feel really nice.

I’m going to go to sleep now. It’s almost 1:30AM already! Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the morning, and thank you so much for reading this post!

New Year’s Resolutions 2017

My Week, January 2nd-6th

It’s Friday night (midnight) in the dorm. It doesn’t feel like a Friday, though, because tomorrow is technically a school day for me. This Saturday is our mandatory college counselling day. At least there are no classes, right? Anyway, I am so tired from my first week of school. School can be so frustrating sometimes! I so wish that my teachers were a Youtube video or something:

In math class, I find myself wanting to pause, replay, or play in 0.5x speed my teacher’s lecture. Math is a challenging subject for me, and since the modular system squeezes an entire year’s worth of Algebra II into 15 weeks, we’re learning stuff at a crazy fast pace. It’s only the first week of school and I’ve met with my teacher outside of class three or four times. I mean, it’s wonderful that my math teacher never says no when I ask for extra help. Mr. Ifft is a great person and a great math teacher. But at the current moment, I’m so tired of math. :/

Okay, so going back to that Youtube video thing. For Latin class, I want to 2x, even 4x the speed of Dr. Bednarowski’s lectures. Confession time: I was too excited about taking Latin, so I kind of finished reading the entire textbook over Winter Break. I love self teaching. Although my teacher incorporates interesting aspects of Roman history and culture into the language class, not a whole lot is new because of my interest in classical civilisations and my detailed AP World History class. I guess I could work on other things when I get bored, but then I don’t want to make the teacher feel bad, you know? If I were a teacher, I’d be sad if my students didn’t even feign interest. Plus, there are only 7 of us in the class so I can’t exactly hide. Dr. Bednarowski is very reasonable, though. He told me that I could self study ahead as much as I want, and that he would help me if I have any questions. I’m planning on self studying Latin II over the summer and taking Latin III junior year. That way I could take AP Vergil as a senior! Every cloud has a silver lining! I think the best part about Madeira (my school) is the people. I’ve met the nicest teachers and made the best friends here.

Since I ended that on a positive note, I’ll go on about all the other nice things of this week (more like just today), because why not, right?

Starting with the simple things… A girl in my dorm, Maggie, showed me how to use the Keurig in the dorm. The four(?) months I’ve been at boarding school, I was so intimidated about using that machine, and I don’t even know why! It’s so nice that I know how to use it now. It’s so useful! I’m drinking my second cup of English Breakfast tea as I’m writing this.

Panem et Circenses was also a big highlight of my day today. “Panem et circenses” means “bread and circuses” in Latin, and that was the name of our movie night in Dr. Bednarowski’s classroom. We watched Monty Python’s Life of Brian and had really good Italian food! It was just for Classics Club, a group of high school Latin fanatics! It was a good time.

I could probably go on and on. I’m really enjoying Poetry II with Dr. Arizmendi. This is the one class that I don’t seriously want to adjust the speed of. We just finished reading the first three parts of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and I’m really enjoying that book. We’re also learning about the history of the English language, bits and pieces of European history, courtly love, etc. Everyone’s super engaged because these are some very cool topics! We have a lot of meaningful discussions in Poetry II.

Speaking of discussions, I had a really deep discussion with Mr. Sudnik and my friend Casey after Model UN today. We started out talking about climate change, Paris 2015, and environmental problems around the world. And somehow the conversation took a political turn, so we talked about democracy, Trump, the political divide in the United States, capitalism, Bush, the education system, and more. I find it fascinating when teachers talk about their political views. And Mr. Sudnik had a lot of cool experiences to share with us too. By the time I had to leave, I had no idea that we’d been talking for 2 hours. Every minute of it was so valuable and intriguing.

One more thing, and I should probably go to sleep. This week I made some more progress on Beethoven’s “Rondo a Capriccio” (Rage over the lost penny). It’s a really fun piece! I sight-read and practised it over Winter Break on the electronic keyboard that my piano teacher Mrs. Morris lent me. I was really happy that I had the keyboard over Winter Break, and I’m even happier now with the Steinway grands at school. I love how on a real piano, I can play softly then loudly, sweetly then furiously. Beethoven is one of my favourite composers because of all sorts of emotions you feel from his music. It is rumoured that Beethoven wrote this particular piece after he saw a man running downhill in pursuit of a lost penny or something (don’t quote me on this)… and although frustration and perhaps even anger is clearly shown in the tempo, I’m still unsure about exactly what Beethoven wanted to say. Certain parts of the piece make me wonder if Beethoven is saying that losing a penny is not such a big deal, although it may seem so at the moment. Trying to figure out how to feel when you’re playing music is always confusing and fun at the same time! Listen to the piece here! What do you think Beethoven is trying to tell us? It’ll probably take me a very long time until I can do the piece justice (it’s 14 pages!), haha, but I’m definitely up for the challenge!

So yeah! That was my week. Despite the insaneness of getting back into the flow of school and all that, I enjoyed my week quite a lot. I honestly have so much to be thankful for. I hope your week was as good as mine, and even better! Here’s to a great weekend. Thank you always for reading and following my blog. 😀

Oh, and that New Year’s Resolutions post I was talking about before… It’s definitely coming soon, I promise! Good night for now, though! Sleep tight.

My Week, January 2nd-6th

School, Goals, Christmas, and Sherlock

Hello! Winter Break is now over and I am back at my boarding school. Although I can never have enough breaks, it’s pretty awesome to be with my friends again.

Today was a very busy day. I got everything organised for the start of Module 4. In Module 4, I take Algebra II, Poetry II, and Latin I, in that order. I am especially excited for Latin because I have a strong interest for classical languages. I also found out that two of my Latin textbooks were actually written by a former Madeira teacher, which is just so cool. I started reading Latin Everywhere, Everyday: A Latin Phrase Workbook over break, and I was astonished at how many of the phrases I throw around every day are Latin. I’m excited for my other classes, too, of course. I will be continuing with Model UN, Orchestra, and Glee, too.

I will share my New Year’s Resolutions on my blog soon—I just have to come up with a few more. My goals for sophomore year are kind of put aside for now. Hopefully my new year’s resolutions are better than those. Anyway, something that’s definitely going to be on there is: Add the 1st movement of “Waldstein” to my repertoire! I often listen to Beethoven’s “Waldstein” because it’s so good and emotionally complicated. I turn on the music, close my eyes, and lose myself (I’m so sorry that I’m being so cliché, but words cannot describe the amazing depth of this piece). So today I’ve started playing “Waldstein”, and I really look forward to learning the entire piece and playing it for my friends and family this year! Here is a video of Pletnev’s interpretation of the piece. It’s so beautiful.

Before I go, I want to talk about the best Christmas present I received. My friend got me a very cute pair of gloves in which the fingertips can be covered or not covered. She told me that I need to keep my hands warm to play the piano well. My friend is an amazing pianist, and I want to be able to play like her. We’ve spent a lot of time listening to each other play! I love the gloves because it was such a thoughtful gift. Plus, she put a little tag that reads “For Elsie, My Favourite Ravenclaw.” We both love Harry Potter to death. From this present I was reminded once again that the best gifts come from the heart. I hope the gifts I gave to people in 2016 show that I care and think about them.

And one more thing! Sherlock! I watched the first episode of Season 4 last night! It was a lot more serious than the usual humorous episodes, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I learnt so much more about the characters, and the more human side of Sherlock. And this is where I stop because I mustn’t spoil anything. I can’t wait for the other two episodes!

Good night, everyone! Thank you so much for the continued support. ❤

School, Goals, Christmas, and Sherlock

Blog Statistics 2016

Hello everyone, it’s Elsie! Since today is the last day of 2016, I want to share with you how this blog has done this year (all thanks to you guys).

On the 2nd of December, in Shanghai, China, I started this blog out of utter boredom. My first post was very short and cynical. It’s crazy how I’m writing this blog post, a little over a year from then, halfway around the world in McLean, Virginia! Positive reviews from my readers (you!) really inspired me to write more. A special shout-out to manqindi, who consistently supported my blog through its ups and downs. 🙂

2016 was a very eventful year for me—I left my hometown (the beautiful city that I have lived in for 14 years), I started at a new school, I finished writing a novel, I discovered my passion for music, and oh, so much more. Also, I think I learnt to appreciate my education more, which I hope was demonstrated in “Courses I’m Looking Forward To” (the blog post I’m most proud of). When I look back, 2016 was a very good year for me, despite the fact that it may have not been the best year for the world (following the news has been a depressing pastime).

OK, so here are the stats for Elsie01px2019:

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I was so surprised that my blog has gotten 1754 entire views this year! A big thank you to everyone who has read, liked, followed, and commented on my blog! 🙂 Next year I hope I get 1895 views (Sherlock reference!). 😀 Did I mention that Sherlock Season 4 is on PBS at 9pm EST tomorrow? Best New Year’s surprise ever! I’m so excited!

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Thank you to all of these countries: the United States, China, South Korea, United Kingdom, India, Australia, Hong Kong SAR China, Singapore, Nigeria, the Philippines, Romania, Ireland, Belgium, Nepal, United Arab Emirates, Greece, Canada, Kenya, Thailand, Germany, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Japan, Vietnam, Congo – Kinshasa, Indonesia, Malaysia, France, Estonia, Russia, Zimbabwe, Taiwan, Morocco, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Italy, Argentina, Peru, Qatar, the Netherlands, and New Zealand!

This map just makes me so happy, because it’s absolutely crazy how my words have reached so many people from so many places. It’s a small world, especially with the Internet. These are the moments that I am so happy that the Internet exists, to link all of us closer together. (A moment that I was not happy about the Internet’s existence was last Friday when I had to turn in an assignment online. It’s Winter Break for heaven’s sake! :p)

I really enjoyed sharing snippets of my life with you this year. I sincerely hope 2016 was a great year for all of you, too. I’m going to go count down the minutes/seconds to 2017 now.

20161231_223405 2.jpg^By the way, that’s a paper plate. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Here’s to a great new year to us all! I hope the excitement we have right now for 2017 never wanes.

Blog Statistics 2016