Willing to explore who you are

While trying to catch a train at Millbrae, I heard someone asking: “Hi, do you how the train is gonna come?”. I was pausing what I was about to do to think: “How?” and thought “what do you mean by how? the train will just come?”. It tells me of how this stranger is probably new to Caltrain. I looked around him and saw he was going with 2 large suitcases. Then I asked “Hi, where are you trying to get to?” and he said: “Stanford”. Stanford is even though still a ‘wow’ name to me, it is not surprising to me the idea of someone heading there for a visit or to do something around the area, eventually it is a place.

However, for some reasons, the question naturally came up was:

  • Me: “Are you going to attend the school?”
  • Him: “Yes!”.

Not trying to distract him further, I instructed him: :

  • Me: “So, you are going to tap this Clipper card and when the train comes, you get on, then get off at the place you need to and tap it again so that it counts the distance and charges you”.

It seems like he is trying to get to know with the activity rather than to understand how the train system works because he keeps reacting as :

  • Him: “huh, that is new to me”.

I reconfirmed my thought by asking:

  • Me: “so you are new here right”
  • Him: “Yeah, I am from Ohio, where I am from, things are not like here, the airport here is so big”.

There you go, I gave him a big welcome just like someone else did to me before:

  • Me: “Yeah, welcome to the bay area”.

He did not seem to be too excited by that, probably his worries outweighed.

  • Him: “oh, it seems that the train is coming”.
  • Me: “right, it is about to be 1:15pm”.

We chatted more about when he will officially start with school and then while trying to get on the train, I personally wanted to sit next to him to continue the conversation and he needed me for the guidance so he suggested:

  • Him: “could you sit next to me because I might need some help”.

I was too excited to drill into Stanford thing because hell yah, I know how challenging and competitive it is to get into Ive League schools. I came up with more questions:

  • Me: “so did you enjoy writing essays and preparing to apply for the school?”.

He was very open to share:

  • Him: “oh yah, there were around eight questions for my essay”.
  • Me: “So, what was a question you like the most?”
  • Him: “Tell us about something that is meaningful to you and why.”
  • Me: “Wow, yeah.”
  • Him: “So I talked about how my friends and my family are very meaningful to me. Stanford is pretty much more interested to learn about who you are as a person rather than who you want to become like Harvard cares about.”
  • Me: “Well, but I am curious about how they will evaluate that because every person is unique by his own.”
  • Him: “Yes, exactly, that is why I think I am lucky to get in.”
  • Me: “Because the person who read your essay like you :)?”
  • Him: “Yup.Frankly, we are not supposed to know very well who we are, yet it is more about how we are willing to explore who we are as a person”
  • Me: “That seems very deep, but how do they differentiate someone who is telling about their true self and who is just seemly good at writing. I guess they sort of know the difference” (Inside, I was truly impressed by how a 18 year old understands to define himself and also understand who he is is going to be extended furthermore, instead of just that).
  • Him: “I bet they know but I think it is through how you express yourself, they know.”

I would love to carry on this conversation because it was intriguing and involves philosophy which I am madly attracted to, however, I at the same time did not want to miss my stop.

Saying goodbye and good luck to him to get off at San Mateo, my head was spinning around the question of “Who am I?”, “exploring who I am” and an image of a freshman preparing for college which reminds of me three year ago. Feeling nostalgia. So much has happened and I has been brought so deep into life that school is not a thing I care about anymore.

The experience was also sort of a wake up call to me that maybe I have not arrived yet, maybe I still have a bit more time to really explore who I am, just like how I just discovered that I had wounds in the past that affect how I react to certain events at the moments. There were times I almost wanted to quit living, to quit trying, and to get back to my comfort zone. There were times I thought I would settle down or at least I pictured myself in that situation. There were times I felt enough. Yet, how much willing I am to explore who I am is a growth mindset. Who we are as a person should not be limited, only we are limiting ourselves.