Last week, a middle school friend of mine sent me two photos of him and another friend—- one just taken in California during spring break and the other one taken in our old classroom around seven years ago.
In the old photo, I saw the familiar settings of our classroom: course schedule written on the left of the blackboard, announcements pasted on the wall and a small board painted colorfully with a symbol of our class. I also saw students each holding a small “certificate” that our teacher made to award those who had participated actively in class activities. They all wore the somewhat puffy school uniforms and had their “red scarf” (symbol of young pioneers) around their collars. In the other photo, I saw two young adults wearing t-shirts and shorts and smiling in the California sunshine. Both of them looked much taller than they were seven years ago. After seeing the two photos, I couldn’t help but wonder how time flies and how much we’ve changed — from kids who just entered their teenage years to young adults, from middle school to college, and from our hometown Beijing to the United States.
Today I turn twenty years old.
I still remember that on my thirteen’s birthday, my friends said “Welcome to teenage years” to me and I couldn’t imagine how the seven years of teenage-hood would pass. But now, it’s finally time to say goodbye to those years. In the last few days before my birthday, I tried to look back and see how my dreams have changed and evolved throughout the years.
I entered my teenage year with a small suitcase full of colorful dreams and interests. On first day of middle school, we had an “orientation” where everyone made a self-introduction in front of the whole class. I vaguely remembered that I confidently talked about my interests in learning languages, my love for traveling and music, and even about my favorite season and favorite food. I also remember that I wrote in my journal about my dreams during my freshman year in middle school: “I have a lot of dreams— architect, doctor, interpreter, psychologist, fashion designer, etc. I don’t know what kind of job I will do in the future when I grow up, but I believe that I will find something that fits me best.” At the age of thirteen, I stored all my colorful dreams and various interests in my suitcase and embarked on my teenage journey, not knowing where my final destination lies.
As I become older, I have learned new subjects from Physics to History, and understood more about the world and about myself. The increasing knowledge in my mind led me to put more and more dreams into my suitcase — I want to travel around China to see different geographies and regional cultures; I want to learn different languages; I want to study literature and history. At the same time, absorbing knowledge took away some of my time for other interests, so I had to throw away some of my old dreams — knowing that I won’t become an architect or a designer and realizing that there are limits that I can’t exceed.
After I graduated from high school, I brought my suitcase of dreams to college. I tried out different fields and a few dreams become more and more concrete while other dreams gradually faded away.
As I’ve just declared as a mathematics-economics major, my dream now is to become an economist to study social development and human behaviors. However, I’m still on my way with my suitcase of dreams. I might lose some of them at some point, but I will also have new dreams.
There’s one thing that always stays constant in my suitcase: I always have dreams.
Fang is a senior at Brown University. You can contact Fang Guo at firstname.lastname@example.org.