After the rollercoaster ride of emotion and identity crisis in 2016, I felt more comfortable within my own skin in 2017. Throughout this year, I began to express myself more, finding ways to make life more enjoyable, being more open to taking risks and having personal initiative, and I started to develop a sense of purpose.
2017 was a year of new experiences, meeting some wonderful people, and expanding my willingness to try new things. I learned how to step out of my comfort zone, whether it meant to try foods that I have never even heard of, or if it meant to travel to new places.
Ending Freshman Year the Right Way
Fall semester had already been the greatest academic semester that I had ever had, but little did I know that spring semester would be even better. I started the year off in January by touring LA with my older sister Lesley and my cousin Myguel, who is currently a sophomore at the University of Irvine, where he is a pre-med student. We were able to tour Little Tokyo, LACMA, Chinatown, Koreatown, Mulholland Drive, as well as several other spots around LA that I have never seen before. We ended the day by eating ice cream in Studio City, watching Arrival at Universal Studios, and then going into the park to buy butterbeer at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (biggest Harry Potter fan right here).
In February, I had the pleasure of watching my hometown New England Patriots overcome a 28-3 deficit to the Atlanta Falcons in order to win the Superbowl, making it Tom Brady's 5th title ring. For my birthday in March, I celebrated by watching my favorite basketball team, the Boston Celtics, beat the LA Clippers at the Staples Center in DTLA. Next came March Madness, our schoolwide basketball competition between the four classes. This was probably the highlight of the semester, because it was an opportunity for most of my friends and I to play together and represent our class. The freshman class had never won a title game in the history of our school, and no one expected us to make any noise. But we let them know. Our team was dominant leading up to the 48-minute final game, as we beat both Junior Teams en route to playing the Seniors in the finals. The Finals was where we began to have our struggles as a team, since the Seniors were simply bigger, faster, and stronger than us, not to mention that we were exhausted from playing two prior games. However, we stayed in the game for the first three quarters in a back-and-forth contest before we would ultimately make a run in the final minutes of the last quarter. I hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 25 seconds left to put us up by one, where my friend Royce would then hit two free throws to seal the win.
Hanging With Friends in the Summer
I met some incredible people this year, with whom I have developed healthy friendships with. Many of the people that I have grown close to are now people that I consider family. I've had the opportunity to travel with many of them, which is something that I've never done up until this year. We were able to take trips together to Universal Studios (and I must have gone at least 15 times), the Glendale Galleria, Santa Monica, and the Topanga Mall.
My friend Royce and I also started a daily routine that some might consider crazy: we rode our bikes to the gym at 4:30 in the morning. For me, it was a bit of a challenge living 5 miles away, so the ride took about 30-35 minutes each way. However, it was a lot of fun because there were very few cars out and I was able to pick up speed by going downhill for most of the ride to the gym. It also helped that summer mornings were a lot cooler, and that going to the gym early meant that we could avoid the crazy heat wave that accompanies the Southern California summertime. Going to the gym helped build up my self-discipline, and I was able to make significant strides with my body and my skills as a basketball player. Outside of making crazy plans or travelling really cool places, our summer days together consisted of going to gym from 4:30 to 11 before having lunch and hanging out for the rest of the day.