When My Second Life Began

Graphic by Hoor Fathima

At the end of my sophomore year, with a lockdown imposed, I couldn’t meet up with my friends as usual with school being online. I had stopped talking to a lot of people. I didn’t text them or talk to them through calls and video get-togethers. It was a weird time. But I was also obsessed with Korean dramas as everyone was. So I didn’t really feel the need to maintain connections.

Back then I didn’t know they were bad for me, the friends I mean. I didn’t really seem to grow. I was stuck in the same place as last year — thinking about boys, Korean dramas, and relationships. We never talked about serious things like college, career, or life. We mostly joked around and I thought that was fine. Unfortunately it was not.

When it came to choosing streams after our sophomore year, all of my friends chose science because their parents said so. But I didn’t do the same. I wanted different things. I wanted to explore different avenues and had a different plan in mind. However, I was not well equipped with enough information to make such an important decision. My sister then introduced me to Coursera, an online platform to learn all sorts of things. I completed a few courses, got certified and I had a sense of accomplishment. It felt good. I felt valued and useful. I almost had a grip on myself and was now moving towards a better and more purposeful future.

I attended a webinar with four of my classmates and kept in touch afterwards. Mind you, these people were my classmates but I hadn’t really connected with them on such a level in the past six years I had known them. So that meant I made a new set of friends. I think this is what you call like-minded people. These were people who wanted to grow, who wanted a purpose, who wanted to change, just like I did. So I surrounded myself with them. We got engaged in projects and business plans. We even started a business together designing stickers. I don’t know the future of the business but I sure do enjoy the journey. We have regular meetings, intellectual discussions, and brain-storming sessions. We talked about colleges and careers — discussions I’d never had with my old friends, which is something I didn’t find boring but rather interesting. I was finally holding myself accountable and working for my life ahead.

But with every positive there is a negative and what I got was overthinking and anxiety about my future. I started worrying if I would ever get into college. If what I was doing in high school is enough for the admission officers. Luckily enough I had some amazing friends who helped me sort through my troubles and the anxiety of my future. We joined LinkedIn. And may I say it was a well anticipated move. I learned about the various different things other people were doing. The internships, volunteering, and enterprises they created. I signed up for a bunch of internships and volunteered to make my time on earth meaningful. Time-to-time, I engaged in art as well as a form of creative outlet.

I have also been heavily involved with sustainability and climate change issues. Ever since I found a purpose I have wanted to live everyday doing the best I can and for that I realized that we need the planet because Earth doesn’t have a backup. I wanted to build solutions that would reverse the effects our actions have had on the planet. I had to research a lot, and I worked with my mentor and teachers making it the first time I had openly asked for help from a teacher in my ten years of schooling. She also happened to be my guidance counsellor and we worked together to figure out my goals for the future and the college search. I started working with more and more people and it has been equal parts fun, tiring, and rewarding. But I do feel hopeful that all my hard work is leading somewhere. Somewhere I can be myself, somewhere I can follow my true passions. I really do hope I don’t go back to my old ways, but even if I do, I now know a way out and that has been my period of self growth.

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