Dear Sisi,

      Congratulations on completing your first year of college(: And congratulations to us for being friends for 7 years now.
I think so many people are proud of us, and even if people aren’t super proud of us because so many people already have
preconceived or otherwise conceived high expectations of us, I think we should still be proud of ourselves.
It wasn’t weird or wrong for you to want to stay on the Dean’s List; I think achievement does drive us to do a lot of what we do
and labels (like titles and awards) and measurements (like grades) are how we tend to qualify and quantify our achievement.
I know you wanted a long email about what’s up with me, but I honestly feel like I told you everything, or at least, a lot throughout the year.
I’ll still try to write as much as I can before I’m too tired to keep writing, especially since I tend to always find ways
to go off on tangents, but how bout youuuuu? I don’t want to ask you specific questions because I think that’d limit your
range of answers. If you wanted to just reflect on the entirety of freshman year, what would stick out to you?
 And what have you learned? How do you think you’ve changed?
We’ve done this kind of reflection before on our wordpress! So I know you can do it! I don’t want to be the only wordy one >.<
      So…let’s see. What’s up with me…
      Well, I think the past month or so I’ve become complacent in my relative “success.” After dropping my Micro class,
I thought I was doing well in the four classes I had left, so I started slacking. And that came back to bite me: 60s and 70s
dropping like bombs and discouraging me. My defense mechanism was (as it often is) rationalization: I got that AB internship
completely by luck and grace, and even though it’s unrelated to my grades, I used it as an excuse to rationalize why it’d be okay for me to
get B’s and just improve in the future. I told myself I get one semester to mess up, and this will be that semester. I guess it’s
better than if I broke down emotionally because that probably would’ve made me give up entirely. It’s still not the best mentality to have…
     I’m taking Ethics next semester, and I wonder whether it’ll teach me about how to live “better.”
      I know there are things about myself I can improve, and now that school is over and the pressure is off and I’m in a pretty good and
motivated mood, I actually want to improve. Of course, the first issues are what and how to improve. Going to the airport and cancelling my
flight and then calling the travel agencies and booking the new tickets today…I definitely learned a lot (though, I don’t know how strongly
I learned the lessons since, even though it was a big decision and change of plans, it wasn’t a huge emotional experience,
and it’s also pretty isolated…so probably forgettable as well). I learned how much my parents love and care about me. This wasn’t a
relational understanding of love as much as it was a matter-of-fact; it wasn’t like, “look, they reacted this strongly, and on the spectrum,
it corresponds with a strong level of care.” It was more like–“WOW. It’s not okay for me to be so inconsiderate and not realize that
even if i didn’t care if something happened to me, my parents would care…and they care because…they just do.” I learned how well they
know me. It’s pretty scary. My dad was just reacting and talking about how selfish and inconsiderate I was for hiding the full truth from them
and thinking I could take care of myself already–in this instance. But, listening to it, I knew that everything he was saying was true about me
all the time–not just this time. I love my dad. Ever since I stopped translating sermons for him, I haven’t been able to help him…but I wish I could
again. My mom kinda went off on tangents and started lecturing me about helping her with chores and helping our own family and striving to live
a peaceful life, and wanting me to be more like her. I love her too; she’s cute and has an amazingly wide heart. Something else interesting
my parents brought up was how my friends influence me. Last night, my dad brought up Jessica Chen and asked if
I got the idea of traveling by myself from her example, and whether I learned to not care about my parents from her example, too. I have to admit that I
did in fact think that I’d be okay in HCMC in part because Jess did it while she studied abroad in HK.Regardless of whether I’d be okay, I heard loud
and clear the principle behind what my dad was saying once he phrased it that way. So that was interesting. They used to talk to me against jealousy of you and Vivien; now they tell me not to be impulsive like Jess.
 I also learned how to get things done. I had a lot of help: from my dad, from this amazing and great travel agent, from my H4H team leader–
but the idea is that together we found and booked the new tickets and I didn’t have to just drop the entire thing and give it all up.
Mike and Lew have both noted that about me. I’m really grateful that they told me, because in turn, my fickle nature has been something I’d really like to work on.
Reaffirming that idea: I organized my old journals while cleaning my room today and found out that these aspects of my personality that people really hate
have been noted to me as early as 2008 (earlier, if I include times my parents have chatised me about irresponsibility and selfishness). Dipping my feet
into the past is always a tricky experience, but I definitely saw certain of my memories in a new perspective today, and I think that means I’ve
learned or grown or at least just-plain-changed. And I’m going to go ahead and say that that’s good, because I had been praying for a change in perspective
for years.
       I’m just cleaning my room some more tomorrow (and sneezing and dealing with my runny nose. I literally JUST developed allergies TODAY because my body
reacted to the dust from moving things around…and now it won’t stop reacting to dust ever again T.T)  so if you want to call, feel free.
But please also write back or think about reflections! I wish you’d share more with me!