Thanks, Dad — it’s all been worth it

David Lim

Dear Dad,

The stories you told about my grandfather and those about how you were born a great white shark probably have something to do with my own inclination to tell stories through this newspaper. You did a good job developing my sense of wonder by dragging me around to every single science and art museum in town before I turned 7 and looking at photos of your travels always recharged my wanderlust.

And I’ve always had great respect for the quiet pride you take from your work — the buildings that have risen up from little sketches on restaurant napkins.

But perhaps you’ve most significantly molded me into who I am by sending me to this place called Harvard-Westlake

It’s not cool to have such a public display of affection for your school, as a fellow senior pointed out recently. I’ve come to conclude that seniors just say “I’m so done” or “Thank god, it’s almost over” to fill up awkward spaces of time talking to someone they should really know better after six years.

But under all that bluster, I’d hope that Harvard-Westlake has been for each of my classmates what it has been for me.

It’s the kind of school where the hardest question you can get on a student ambassador panel isn’t about that notorious last Semiformal and not even one that you’ll clumsily have to answer with the cure-alls of Peer Support or time management.

The toughest question is from that grinning parent sitting in the back who decides to mix it up by asking “So, what do you not like about Harvard-Westlake?”

I always struggled to have something to say while the exhausted junior panelist next to me laughs off how AP Calculus BC 11 has caused his or her chronic lack of sleep and dampened their social life. Yet, the panelist is there on a Saturday morning, feeding the vicious cycle of sleep deprivation — his or her presence alone is the greatest testament to the school.

Though not free of the ups and downs of adolescence, Harvard-Westlake has been an excess of opportunity and a collection of incredible experiences. From ninth grade retreat on the Colorado River to an incredible 10th grade chemistry class that ended with a chinchilla running around the classroom, a junior year when I started living in Weiler Hall by choice and capped off with a surreal two weeks in Italy on my junior fellowship, I look back with the perspective and perhaps greater wisdom of a senior and can find little fault in the school itself.

Dad, you never were that enthusiastic about the hours I spent working on the Chronicle — although I wanted to be in charge of it since I saw the controversy-free propaganda edition handed to me at my own Family Visiting Day.

Yet, the most important thing you taught me was to choose my own path — to neither walk in your shadow nor walk in defiance of it — but simply live my life in a way that befits who I am. More importantly than any practical skills I’ve gained, my three years on the paper have furthered me along my own path by leaving me with a greater appreciation for the many standout individuals in our community that have made it to our pages and even those who didn’t.

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day,” David Foster Wallace says in “This is Water,” which I have attempted to quote as often as I quote my other favorite poet, Kendrick Lamar.

As a firm believer in Wallace’s words, I’d like to believe writing for the Chronicle has certainly helped expand my awareness of this community and myself.

To the 73 students on staff, I once told a friend that you were the “most talented, diverse, hard-working and attractive members of the student body.” Though my body double Jensen Pak ’14 is undeniable proof of the staff’s attractiveness, I am immensely proud of the eight issues that we’ve pumped out and incredibly honored to have been your editor-in-chief this year. Thank you all.

My relationships with the people I’ve met here is what will last beyond the campus, beyond graduation. Quite a few of my teachers will receive friend requests from me on Facebook shortly after I receive my diploma and shortly after their opinions of me hold no longer such great sway.

As for the friendships I’ve made here, it’s hard to think of a time when I won’t be seeing my friends on a daily basis.

I’m really at a loss for words right now to express how grateful I am for all my friends that were around for the whole journey.

Before I set off on the next adventure — a gap year to places defined by their differences to my high school education, it’s time for me to answer that question: “So, what do you not like about Harvard-Westlake?”

It’s what I’ve missed. It’s how you can’t do everything you want to try in a school with so much to give and get to know everyone you’d like to know with such an excellent student body.  And how there isn’t enough room on this page for me to thank every person who deserves it or enough time for you to read every excellent senior column here.

Yet, six years later here I am saying it was all worth it, Dad.

Thanks to you, I didn’t miss out on Harvard-Westlake but more importantly, I didn’t miss out on the experiences and people that came with it.