During a layover in Hong Kong for a flight from India to Korea one summer, I settled down at a café with a book. After a couple of hours, I checked my ticket. The flight left at 3:45, and it was 4:30. I had missed the flight.
I didn’t really panic. I definitely felt an adrenaline rush, but I knew I’d go home someday, and my parents didn’t seem too concerned when I called them. I ate noodle soup for dinner, studied for the PSAT, and waited hours until they told me there were no more tickets that day. I spent the night cold and uncomfortable on chairs before finding a ticket in the morning.
Despite losing time and sleep, this was an experience I’m ultimately glad I had and even one I enjoyed having. Looking back, the stressful situation was strangely similar to my time at Harvard-Westlake.
Just last night, my sister tortured herself over finals, which I sympathized with. But as a senior who has suffered through junior year, I have the perspective now to recognize those times as fundamental to who I am today.
My experiences have helped me realize what I love, and I know there’s so much more I haven’t discovered yet. I know, with a degree of certainty, that I will be learning for the rest of my life. Stress is unavoidable, but I have grown to love learning. And so I will try to enjoy, or at least appreciate, the pain associated with the process.
And Harvard-Westlake wasn’t all pain, either. My experiences with friends, which range from walking to Starbucks and watching “The Hunger Games” to making inedible, elastic brownies, have helped us grow closer together through shared memories. I don’t know what more we’ll do in the future, but I value these relationships more than anything else I’ve gained. As for myself, I can only try experiencing what I think I’ll love. After all, that’s why I decided to take a gap year.
At the end of the day, we all need a certain amount of unpredictability and, as English teacher Jocelyn Medawar phrased it, “a healthy respect for mystery.” Otherwise, missing the flight in Hong Kong would not nearly have been as exciting.