Are you sure?

Are your SAT scores high enough?

Are you sure your G.P.A is high enough?

Are you sure you’re going to get in?

These were the questions that bombarded me during Orchestra class last Thursday. It all began with my innocent question….

“Whats a grace note?”

Being a piano player, I should have known was a Grace note was. And I do. I just don’t call those notes Grace Notes. I just play, and I know that they are there. And then, someone asked me a question,

“Why are you here if you don’t know what a grace note is? You’re in pianos, get out.”


Of course, I was offended. I haven’t had a real piano class in about a year, and before, I didn’t take classes according to the Certificate of Merit. I lacked a strong background in music theory, I can’t really identify chords. Admittedly, I’m more of a piano player than a pianist.  But of course, I snapped and replied that I simply did not dedicate enough time to piano like I used to in my middle school years. School, extracurriculars, trying to live a simple life all built up on my shoulders. And then that snarky boy said this:

“Why don’t you stop trying to get into UCLA?”

IMG_6421 1

And somehow, 2 more people decided to join the conversation. It turned into a “Let’s destroy Kristie’s self-confidence and her dreams in a matter of 2 minutes.” I was like a zoo animal trapped in a cage, with humans mocking me. I’ve never felt more offended in my life. Sure, to them, it was all fun and games. To me, it wasn’t.

You see, I’ve made a promise to myself to not do anything purely for college admissions. I don’t advocate joining a club so it “looks good on your college application.” I don’t advocate joining orchestra, or publications, because “it shows you’re responsible.” You should join clubs, orchestra, and publications because you have a passion for it. You should join it because you want to do these activities and it’s your hobby and you love it. We live in a twisted world where most high schoolers’ lives are dictated by colleges and universities. We live in a demented society in which we are defined by a number, rank, and grade point average. Yes, the first time I took my SAT, I scored above 2000. It’s good, but not amazing. My G.P.A. and class rank are exceptionally high, yes. (I don’t share that number because I’m not that type of person.) I’m a photographer in Yearbook, News Editor of the school paper


and I intern for the city magazine. I’m in three separate publications-type programs because I love journalism, not because I want to make it into college. I’m the president of Make-A-Wish,


member of National Honor Society, and Model United Nations.

10431286_10202171712212654_2498066121099993549_oI also volunteer at a hospital in my free time, and last year, I tutor students in my school’s math homework club.

I like to involve my life in different activities because I believe there is so much to do in this great big world. The world has limitless opportunities, and I’ve only taken up a few.

I don’t trap myself in myself to study all the time and play piano. That’s such a dry, tasteless life.

Honestly, what is the point of going through these wonderful, teenage years, if you’re not going to have some fun?

Why would you concentrate so much on going to one dream school? My dream is UCLA, yes. But that’s because the campus is gorgeous, the Model United Nations program is to-die-for, I love the area and the school spirit is captivating. I don’t want to go to UCLA because it’s the most applied school in the nation, nor that it’s incredibly difficult to be accepted.

I read this Los Angeles Times article a couple months ago

“Everyone is in orchestra and plays piano,” Lee says. “Everyone plays tennis. Everyone wants to be a doctor, and write about immigrating to America. You can’t get in with these cliche applications.”

“Helping Asian American students, many of whom lead similar lives, requires the embrace of some stereotypes, says Crystal Zell, HS2’s assistant director of counseling. They are good at math and bad at writing and aspire to be doctors, engineers or bankers, according to the cliches. She works with her students to identify what’s unique about them — and most of the time, that’s not their career ambitions or their ethnicity.

“Everyone comes in wanting the same thing,” Zell said. “But that’s because they don’t know about anything else.”

I try to not be the stereotypical Asian. I’m not like many of the other Asian students in my classes, who study like crazy, play tennis, and devote all of their lives to school and college. I might be in alignment with the orchestra and piano quality, but hey, I love music and I will never stop playing. I don’t watch anime, people “white-washed” in terms of the foods I eat, the language I speak at home, and how I identify with my culture. I don’t exactly speak as eloquently as I write.

And for that, people who don’t really know me as a student and what I do think I’m “dumb.”

But I’m not dumb. No one is dumb, in fact.

Just because I’m obsessed with Taylor Swift, Harry Potter,

As a writer, I want you to see things through my point of view.

Pretty Little Liars, photography, and baking


doesn’t mean I’m not as good or even better than the next AP student. Sure, I wear bright colors, dresses, skirts, and I try to wear different hairstyles each day of the week, but that doesn’t make me any less than another Asian girl wearing jeans, a t-shirt and a champion hoodie.

And the thing is, people look at me and think that I’m some shopping-crazed and makeup fanatic, that I don’t care for my grades at all, that I never devote my time to studying.

They think I’m a failure.



2 thoughts on “Are you sure?”

  1. Kristie, you do you! The hardest thing is these expectations and ideals that we’re forced to live up to. And while I’m sure the kids in your orchestra class didn’t mean to hurt you, you became an easy target to pick at because you do so much! There’s this unrealistic pressure that students are suppose to have flawless grades, all while holding leadership roles in over 9,000 clubs, but showing commitment to a few, YET be “well-rounded.” It’s a phenomenon that I can’t wrap my head around because I don’t know which side is “more important.” I think right now I want to reevaluate my “why’s” and refocus on the things in my life that should matter, not the one’s I’m pressing for because they look great on a college app.

  2. Everyone makes their own choices; the other Asian students, makeup fanatics, you and I make our own choices. It’s not anyone’s job to tell you what you can and cannot do. I don’t quote Taylor Swift often, but ,”haters gonna hate. . . shake it off”. You go, Kristie.

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