COLUMN: Self Service
Published: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 23:09
There I was, sitting in the Gospel of Hip Hop—me and my mother’s most and least favorite class, respectively. I was quite poised here, seeing that I was raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., a main staple of many of hip hop’s historical figures. Surely, I found a class in which I could exert my superiority. Some people are stars of managing balance sheets or gram-to-mole calculations. Others can make a problem set bend over, rather than the other way around. I thought certainly I can find my niche in this class. After all, this is a genre and culture that I have been immersed in my entire life.
As I sat there readying myself for semester-long praise and admiration, I found myself in the familiar position of being outdone by better-read classmates. Yes, my suburban counterparts were outdoing me in my home court with talk of Public Enemy’s critique of the prison industrial system. Meanwhile I was forced to twiddle my thumbs and interject occasionally with, “Man that boy Kanye is dope!”
As always, I took this to be a mark of inferiority on my part—a sense of inadequacy that has cleaved desperately to me since my bargain Sperry’s first touched down on the grassy plains of Upper Campus. Since then, I have recovered from those ludicrous, self-deprecating views. It wasn’t easy. I had to abandon all thoughts of contest with respect to schooling (or any areas of my life), and focus on bettering myself, rather than besting other people.
Competition is an enjoyable form of exerting yourself and testing your mettle against another’s, but fails as a model for everyday life and academia. A world in which everyone is held to the same standard and expected to “beat” each other isn’t feasible. Variety in interests, goals, and expectations are what produced the awesome and diverse Class of 2016, and ultimately leads to the wide array of available professions that serve society’s purposes across the board.
Imagine for a moment a world of only CSOM graduates and shudder rightfully. Believing that we are all truly individuals who must seek our own paths, I examined my own life and contemplated what brought me here. What I saw was a series of glorious blunders. I’ve bombed tests. I’ve missed open-net goals. I’ve even thrown away moldy bread given to me at lunchtime and with it, a chance to indict my high school for feeding us at a standard that bordered indecency. Despite my life being a comedy of errors and bold decisions, I triumph in my uncanny ability to dissect wrongdoings and truly grow from mistakes.
To avoid channeling my common app supplements, I’ll refrain from going on about my remarkable aptitude for recovery and rebounding as it manifested itself in AP exams. Just understand that I hope to continue this marvelous run of howlers and gaffes, because that which breaks me, makes me. Learning from failure is a main staple of my lifestyle, but even more so is boldly pursuing each task with which I am faced my own way. Even still, it’s difficult to negotiate your own worldview with the demands of the real world. In disregarding practicality in favor of autonomy, I often find myself second-guessing. When looking at the loans piling up or my ever-wilting bank account, I sometimes reach a level of frustration that has me abandoning principles of happiness-over-wealth, when looking at the long term. For all my unconventional ways, I feel a deep sense of urgency with respect to money, bred by my immigrant parents who started from the bottom, and ultimately brought the team up here to America for a better life.
Even still, I’ve accepted that actions solely serving institutional standards are not of me and any success that I’ll attain will have to be bred from the unconventional (I’m counting on you, Kim Kardashian).
So as this school year begins in earnest, consider what standards you want to hold yourself to. What does greatness mean to you, and is greatness something that you even want? The answer is different for everyone and only an unbiased heart can find the answer. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to abandon the status quo from time to time. As much as I hate to admit it, all the boring speeches we heard between orientation and freshman convocation were right—we’re at BC to refine ourselves as individuals, to seek glory wherever possible, and ultimately to set the world aflame with our choice kindling.