2018 was the year it began to pay off.
A year ago, I came writing to you about how 2017 was my year of self-exploration, of education, all in hopes of better finding who I was. It made the title of this very blog, “Being Noah Tesfaye,” fitting in my own journey to become this better human.
2018 was the most challenging academic year of my life. Whether it was the constant stress balancing standardized testing, keeping up grades, or figuring out how I was going to get all of these essays done in a time when so many had dreaded for years, I didn’t know what to think. But I knew one thing must remain above all else: my mental sanity, my excitement to always get up and know that my journey in life is only beginning.
I spent more time with my friends this past year than I have since elementary school. Whether it was in coffee shops, at the movies, or at our favorite lunch table, I made a far more vigorous effort to continue to connect with people I admired and respected, people I cared about. Whenever we all had a bad day, even the simple laughs about our recent test or something funny that happened was enough to uplift me in even the most strenuous of times. They helped ground me in ways I didn’t know were possible, and they helped remind me that we all need a little bit of help or someone to talk to.
Over this past year, I’ve chronicled so many different stories, experiences, and passions, all here. I’ve written about commuting an hour and a half each way to intern in political strategy as the only high school student there. I’ve shared my hot takes on lazy music, not understanding people my own age, or even AirPods (albeit sometimes poorly argued). But it is through this past year that no matter whatever happened in my life, I would come back here, and write for an hour or two. I never let any person or appointment get in the way of this because I knew how valuable it was for me to write.
As it turned out, this all prepared me for this one experience that it seemed as though I’d been preparing for the past few years: writing college applications. Whatever blogging I had done was preparing me, without any upfront intention, of guiding me through these past six months. From spending time browsing toxic forums and the subreddits dedicated on this topic, to hearing it incessantly at school, writing here focused me. It was during the train rides to Oakland that I brainstormed and drafted. It was during Saturday afternoons and evenings just like this that I just kept on jotting down ideas, themes, topics, anything to put everything on my laptop.
What writing here taught me was that I must always be honest, upfront, detail my truths because I didn’t want to be shown as anyone I wasn’t on paper. I didn’t want to be misconstrued, or misjudged for who I was both in my personal life, but equally in a 650 essay to share some aspect of Noah Tesfaye.
And it was a challenge.
I scrapped so many ideas and concepts, drafted over and over and over again, because every time I thought I was onto something, that subconscious of mine tried to force me to try and appease some random person instead of just sharing who I truly am. And every time that happened, my cousin would call me out on it, push me to really dig more. Draft after draft, school after school, we had long discussions about the intent of each sentence, of certain words, and I had to think out loud to myself and to her about how I could best be honest about my life.
But months later, I am writing to you today after submitting my last two applications. And it is a relief, not just because this process is nearly done, but because I am so thankful for this blog. I wrote to myself, shared with you aspects of my own life that don’t necessarily come up in daily conversation, all in hopes of creating some dialogue with myself to find Noah Tesfaye, who he really is. And it is in this pursuit that I am proud that I gave this whole process and these past three and a half years everything I had.
2018, although ending, really is, however basic it may sound, really is the starting line, the first step in my journey to finding how I can best help the world. I by no means am here to claim I know it all because I don’t. I’ve been very, very lucky and fortunate with the hand I received. But I am glad I stayed true to myself, stayed true to Noah Tesfaye. And it is slowly, but finally, starting to pay off.
Have a wonderful New Year’s and I’ll see you all next week in a new year. Till then…
Being Noah Tesfaye #61: 2018 — It’s Finally Starting to Pay Off
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