Overview of the Year
My second year as a UC student taught me to better appreciate and understand my agency. I injured my leg and this influenced my perception of choices for the rest of the year. Initially after I injured myself, I had the same mindset as before I had hurt myself. Given the difference between my prior modus operandi and my current situation, I can understand that this was misguided as I needed to make choices the were best for me in my new situation. I needed to take care of myself, and keep up with how my life changed around me. Needless to say, this year has been a year of change and adaptation for me.
Visiting Liberty Center on Crutches
By random chance, I tore my meniscus (cartilage that cushions knee during walking, running, and standing) and needed crutches and later surgery with a 6 to 8 month recovery time. As a healthy teenager, it is a bit of an existential crisis to lose the ability to walk without aid. This was part way into the fall semester so I had to stop volunteering, I really missed helping at Hughes, and I had to miss a week of classes after the surgery. This injury stopped me from doing this that I would have otherwise liked to do such as seeing friends. I also had to take very strong painkillers and work through physical therapy. Thankfully, my friends, roommates and family did quite a bit to help me through this tough time. Coming back to classes was difficult, but when I came to class on crutches and a full leg brace my teachers cut me some slack. One of my teachers even had torn her own meniscus and she was quite kind and helpful with the work in her class in accordance with my situation. I have really learned to appreciate what I have and not to take anything for granted as it could all be taken away by something out of my control. I overcame my injury, maintained my 4.0 GPA and got a great job in California.
Visiting Golden Gate Bridge in California
This injury had canceled one of my planned trips and made me question whether I wanted to go to California and work for that company. I did end up going but being in a new city on my own with a broken knee is definitely not the best move; I was still in the mindset I had before I injured my leg. I was 2,000 miles away from all my close friends and family. However, living on my own gave me the opportunity to become more independent. Going on this trip with an injured knee was more than a little misguided. While in California, I did one to two hours of physical therapy every day after work which was trying because I wanted to explore more. I was not able to go out on the weekends for half of my time in Cali due to my recovery. I would have rather gone later after having healed from my injury. After living in Cali for four months, I now respect what it takes to live truly on my own. I wish I had eliminated the independent factor of an injury from the equation beforehand. After having this experience, I would place more importance on decisions of travel after injury in the future.
Trip to Japan
I was fully healed by the time I went to Japan. There, I learned the importance of traveling with people I know well. Although the trip was fun, it incurred extra anxiety and missing some class time. I was overjoyed to experience a new culture and explore, firsthand, the differences between the States and Japanese cultures. I really enjoyed myself the most when I went off to explore on my own. This showed a bit of the mindset change I had been facing all year. After losing the ability to walk without crutches and slowly gaining it back through months of physical therapy, I appreciate what it means to take action in my life. Visiting Japan has helped me come to terms with my new mindset as a person by putting me in a new environment where I could have a fresh look at myself.
This year wasn’t only about academic or professional development for me. Now that I can walk and handle myself on my own; I have gained a deeper appreciation of my own agency and of who I am. “One life is too short for doing everything” (Massimo Vignelli) and I will embody my own agency. Given this realization, next year I want to professionally pursue opportunities that align with my personal interest; go back to California and explore it; I would also like to volunteer and help out more in the spring with Bearcat Coders.