Surround Yourself with Good People
I used to be known as the little kid who would cry in response to everything. Teachers often had to come flying over with a box of tissues and prepare their comforting cooing to keep the little puddle at my feet from turning into Lake Superior. I cried often and about almost everything. I cried when my mom would drop me off at daycare and drive away to work. I cried when Cruella (curse that wicked witch) kidnapped the 101 dalmatians to make her fur coat. As I grew older, I cried about everything in between: when the silence was simply too loud, when the vastness of the universe was too massive to comprehend, when I realized that the end will always, inevitably arrive.
These days, it (somewhat thankfully) takes more than that to make me physically shed a tear. But thankfully still, those heart-splitting emotions that are so familiar have continually manifested themselves in the experiences that my 18-year-old self has gone through so far. I’m grateful for it, because it’s reminded me of the tremendous depths of emotion and inspiration that our world has to offer.
Coca-Cola Scholars Weekend was an insane, jam-packed weekend that gave me a massive dose of that emotion and inspiration during a time I really needed it. I don’t know how to explain this in a more articulate way, but people just honestly cared so much about the events happening around them, and they weren’t afraid to let people know that cancer, income inequality, or environmental issues gave them nightmares that led to sleepless nights of worrying, dreams that led them to relentless, back-breaking activism, deep conviction and contemplation that often inspired me to tears.
I think most importantly, it was a crucial step for me to begin a path of better self-awareness. I’ve come to admire so many of the particular traits that these people have, if for no other reason that I wish I were as compassionate, as optimistic, as pro-active as them. It was a crazy week that has helped me highlight my own shortcomings, and from this, I’ve grown so much. It’s helped me realize just how important it is to surround yourself with good people.
There are many people out there who say that Generation Z, my generation, is an era of lazy slobs mired in extreme arrogance mixed with lazy self-pity. Our rallying cry is “I hate it when Instagram takes longer than 3 seconds to load!!! #pain #crying #occupyinstagram.” We’re helpless fools who can’t and honestly just don’t bother to care about the world around us. Our future, people tell us, is doomed to fulfill an apocalyptic vision of destruction that only extreme, extreme apathy and stupidity will bring.
And since I’m still oozing some feels from that great trip I went to, I’ll say this: those people only say that since they’ve probably never met my Coca-Cola Scholar friends before.
Posted: April 17, 2015
This morning’s Leadership Development Institute session was when I began to feel like I really began to connect to this class of amazing people.
The focus of our session was to further our understanding of ourselves, and to really develop a more coherent and concrete understanding of our own values, perspectives, and capabilities in an effort to become a better leader. To do so, we did activities in which we wrote down our biggest fears.
And it was amazing.
Everyone had a vulnerability, ranging from the fear of not fitting in, of being too young or inexperienced to succeed in a field, or of failure, self-doubt, and aimlessness. It was incredibly touching to see how, no matter the age (since our adult facilitators also joined in) or accomplished these people were, underneath they all had the same basic fears, and it made everyone seem so much more human in one fell swoop.
We later split into smaller groups and shared our life stories. We explained to others about our high and low moments in life, and the impact they’ve had on us. It was great connecting with them, and I feel like I’ve built bonds that have taught me so much. To Emily, I hope that drive and motivation you carry with you will never be extinguished, because it is so inspiring and I know your values will carry you far and away to amazing accomplishments. To Anna, I hope that you maintain your optimism and stay strong and resilient as you build a family of friends who will unwaveringly support you. To Cooper, you’re a funny, adventurous guy who made us all laugh about your cool trips, and I hope that your unbridled enthusiasm for microbial interactions in aquifers will consistently satisfy your passions. To Curtis, your zeal for life itself is so refreshingly energetic and honest, and I look forward to seeing how that infectious eagerness will lead you to exciting opportunities.
Thank you to everyone in my group (#teamfinenine and #squad) for highlighting to me just how essential it is to stay optimistic, constantly search for improvement and growth in the face of adversity, and most importantly, never, ever, ever give up.
Posted: April 14, 2015
I’m Ted and I currently attend Walnut High School, which is about 30 minutes east of downtown Los Angeles. I’m so excited to attend Scholars Weekend this year. I have a few friends who were past Scholars and they’ve constantly told me about how amazing their experiences were. I honestly cannot wait to chug down an unlimited supply of Coke while chilling with my future best bud Muhtar Kent.
When I read the short bio’s and introductions of the other Scholars in our Facebook group, there was a palpable feeling of earnest enthusiasm. Just from reading the intros (and doing quite a bit of Facebook stalking), I can see that this is such a diverse group of big-thinkers. It’s actually slightly intimidating to see how amazing and accomplished everyone is. I’m hoping that the collective creativity, passion, and experiences of our class will help each other acquire the knowledge it takes to turn our own dreams and aspirations into actionable impact. I’m betting that we won’t disappoint.
Anyway, here’s some info about me!
1) I’m a Southern California boy, raised in the glorious sunshine, smog and devastating winters (ha) of LA.
2) I’m a sports fanatic. I play tennis, and am a huge fan of my hometown Lakers and Angels, along with the Pittsburgh Steelers, FC Barcelona, and Rafael Nadal.
3) I’m really passionate about science. Science Olympiad and research internships have been a big part of my high school experience in the past few years. I also really love writing, and have been on my school newspaper for the past 4 years. I’m undecided about what I want to study right now, but I hope to combine my interests and work at the intersection of health, journalism, and education advocacy.
4) I’m a huge fan of Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Agent Carter, Broadchurch, Sherlock, and Doctor Who, and somewhat ashamedly, Shark Tank. I also loved the Dark Knight trilogy and am looking forward to developments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’m a big fan of animated movies such as Up, Wall-E, The Lego Movie, and Tangled
5) I’ll likely be attending Harvard in the fall, although I’m still exploring some other options. Shoutout to the Crimson fam!
6) Something most people don’t know about me: I lowkey wish to be a writer for SNL and highkey wish to be a better singer. I super highkey want to be Iron Man, because hey, who doesn’t?
See y’all at Scholars Weekend!