I wrote the following journal for a Theory of Knowledge end-of-the-year class assignment, to which my teacher suggested I turn into an article for The Millennial Times. Because of the length, I decided to separate it into three different articles based on the topic. So, lots of edits and adjustments later, here’s 2016: Part I.
2016 is coming to a close (the academic year, that is), and that means it’s time to reflect. But as I’m finishing high school this year, I decided it’d be best to take both a wide and close approach. I learned more in my senior year than I have in the seventeen years I have lived, whether it was about myself, school coursework, or knowledge itself. A lot of my perspectives have changed throughout this year, mainly because of Theory of Knowledge, a class in which we analyze the areas and ways of knowing through balanced and various perspectives, and I am learning to adapt my personality to situations that will be able to bring out the best in me. I grew up in a very sheltered home, and what I learned, I learned from parents who were born and raised with Bengali ideologies. Obviously, elementary and middle school weren’t the best places to learn about myself, but when I got to high school, I started separating my culture, my parents’ beliefs, and my own beliefs. That’s when I started becoming comfortable with whom “Azanta” is. I established my own opinions and became active with them.
Before this year, my understanding of intelligence was how you interacted with people and how much knowledge you can retain, but it’s evolved into a completely different concept as I end this year. I’ve come to the conclusion that intelligence differs from person to person based on nature vs. nurture, but I think it’s self-awareness and learning from mistakes of the past (whether the mistakes are yours or in general), and using the power you have in your hands as a force of good for the world.
I’m not literally an adult yet, but I feel as though as I’ve reached the same understanding of myself and overall level as many of the adults in my life mainly because of the International Baccalaureate (IB), the program I was enrolled in throughout high school, and what I dealt with in my personal life, especially through mental strength. Ultimately through these past 13 years, I’ve learned the best way to approach a new topic is with an open-mind, and also to question what you learn to see if you can find any loopholes in arguments or explanations, and then work to solve those problems so what you end up learning is thorough, (ideally) unbiased, and balanced (something I’m working on, I promise I am). Living a “full” life doesn’t necessarily depend on the experiences you have, although they may have a positive contribution to it, but I think it means achieving self-awareness. Going through a lot of hardship and strife at home and at school as a 17-year-old who has a lot left to learn has definitely prepared me to take on the world that lies beyond high school.
I do believe American standards can be really detrimental, though. My hard work paid off at the close of school when I got accepted to a number of universities around the country, including my dream school. Unfortunately, the only obstacle standing in my way is the same obstacle that stands in America’s way of true progress: money. A material possession is holding me back from reaching my maximum potential and receiving the best that the nation can offer me, in the nation’s capital, no less. It isn’t even a social aspect; it’s a material possession and I can’t even begin to tell you how angry that makes me. At some point or another, without realizing it, we transitioned into a society that completely revolves around money. Our basic needs all cost money. Water? Money. Shelter? Money. Education? Money. Health??? Money. It’s our downfall, and it’s our tragic flaw. It’s really, really hard to be proud of this country or even this world, and to keep hope alive when morals are constantly thrown out the window in favor of selfish conditions. Why do I always find myself arguing with people about moral responsibilities? Why are we raised in a society where it’s okay to ignore the needy and the less fortunate? Why should those words have to leave my mouth in the first place, and why are there people in our generation thinking they can continue making the mistakes of the past without any consequences?
I have polarizing views, if you couldn’t tell already. I tend to alienate people with my loud, high-pitched voice, and scare them away with how passionate I get about things. I’m working on that, too. I promise. But I think I’m also coming to terms with it. I’ve been different from the very first day of public school when I stepped into the classroom with my dad. Being the bubbly person I was, I immediately became attached at the hip with the first girl I made eye contact with. Teachers told my parents time and time again that I was “chatty” and “loud” and “bossy”; however, I don’t think any of these things are bad things and it took me literally 17 years to realize that. It was in high school where I realized the strength that I hold in my voice, and this year confirmed a lot of my personal views, like how much money is truly worth. The next step is trying balance my opinions now, but the happenings of this year will remain with me for the rest of my life, even if it has been the most stressful one yet. I want to always question what I believe, because then my beliefs will become that much stronger, just like it did with Islam.
The future is a terrifying thing to think about. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really, really excited to leave high school and venture into a new world where my parents won’t be watching my every move, worried that I’ll screw up my next breath somehow. I’m also really hopeful and optimistic for what’s in store for me. After testing my absolute patience this year, I think God’s definitely prepared me for college. However, I’m really anxious and sad to leave behind the world that I’ve been exploring and made myself comfortable in for the past 17 years. I’m hesitant to leave the friends I’ve made behind, and some of the teachers that have changed my life, whom I will never have again. I’m also really afraid because it took me almost two decades for me to find my place in my life, my strengths, my weaknesses, and passions; will I have to start over from the complete beginning, or can I pick up where I left off, and adapt to new people? Graduation is ultimately a door closing on my childhood and opening a door to responsibilities and a new environment. But, I think I can make the best of my situation, wherever I end up. I’m excited to explore new possibilities, new passions, and new hobbies, ones I couldn’t pursue in high school; I’m excited to finally be able to sleep, and I’m so, so, so excited to be able to read freely again.
Thakur is the creator of The Millennial Times.