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The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

the Epic

The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

the Epic

The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

the Epic

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Learning to survive

Surviving is not the same as living.
Valerie Shu
Surviving is not the same as living.

Surviving is not the same as living.

As a child, your firsts are always celebrated. Your first word, first steps, first day of school. But no one truly knows when it may be the last time doing such beloved activities that define your childhood. The last time you played outside with your neighbors or dolls, the last time you carelessly danced in the rain, or the last time you really lived.

Throughout my childhood, I did Bharatanatyam, an Indian classical dance. I vividly remember focusing on the complicated dance steps and trying to keep up with the fast music. As the music slowed, I struck my finishing pose, lifting my right leg and holding it with my right hand as I glanced at my left hand above my head. My heart was beating out of my chest as I tried to catch my breath and hold my pose until the curtains closed and the lights dimmed. The difficult routine always stole my breath, yet ironically, those moments on stage breathed life into me; I had never felt so alive.  When I started my junior year of high school, my parents took me out of dance class — despite my pleading about how dancing gave me life and purpose —because they claimed I was now “grown up” and that “I had more important things”  to focus on.  

Yet, I wondered, Are grown-ups not allowed to have passions too? 

Fast forward two years later before I questioned whether the ability to have fun was defined by age.

One evening, as my friends and I were walking around our local park, a whirr caught us off guard, and then a hiss. The sprinklers turned on. My friends quickly rerouted to avoid the wet path, but I didn’t have to think twice. I ran into the sprinklers. The cool water droplets soothed my skin, and I was getting sprayed from every direction. I couldn’t escape, nor did I want to because I felt so alive. Meeting back up with my friends at the end of the path, they yelled, “Grow up.” I was shocked. Is junior year after the cut-off for being a child? Are grown-ups not allowed to have fun?

“Spotlight: Deeksha Raj.” I opened the notification from Google Photos. There she was, just two years old. It was a slideshow of her pictures, and as I clicked through the photos…she became older. Older and older until she became me. I quickly tapped the left side of the screen to rewind to the first picture again, back to her photos. My eyes welled up. When I blinked, salty tears ran down my face. If the younger version of me saw who I was today, I know she wouldn’t recognize me. I was a different person now. Not because my teeth are straight or because my jawline is more defined, but because I was forced to “grow up.” She lived but now I just survive. At 15 years old, this monumental moment changed the trajectory of my life. While I still wanted to continue to excel in my academics and fulfill my responsibilities, I realized I wanted to start living again.

Reflecting on my journey, I realized that when people tell me to “grow up,” they want me to live a life that follows societal norms. They want me to live a life where people don’t step over the line or take chances. But, I realized that is not how we find our purpose and true happiness. We find those by living. By taking chances and going against the grain. And in doing so, we realize our true potential and the potential that life holds for us to experience. Nowadays, when someone tells me to “grow up,” I don’t take it as an insult; rather, I view it as a reflection of their programming. It tells me that they aren’t living, just surviving, but that is not going to stop me.

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About the Contributors
Deeksha Raj
Deeksha Raj, Business Manager
(she/her) Deeksha is a senior. During her free time she enjoys taking naps, watching tv, and playing sports. Her favorite sports to play are tennis and basketball. Other hobbies include traveling, hiking, and cooking. Deeksha loves psychological thriller movies and TV shows.
Valerie Shu
Valerie Shu, Design Editor
(she/her) Valerie is a junior and Design Editor. She enjoys drawing, graphic design, Desmos and books.

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