Reflecting on How Far I’ve Come

Thanksgiving is always a time for me to reflect.

Sifting through my last year, I realize how lucky I am to receive so much help and love, and to have such rich experiences.

I am most grateful about having learned more about my choices and myself. I was lucky because I never have had the chance to dig down deeply and to examine closely about myself, until university application season.

At that time, I was at a juncture with immense freedom and possibilities ahead. I’ve had a smooth sail, from good secondary school to scholarship in Singapore. However, parents’ decisions and peer pressure usually substituted my own thinking and judgment, I did not know clearly what I wanted, and I was deprived of insights into what I like, dislike and capable of. With no clear pre-laid path for me ahead, I was engulfed by anxiety, sense of loss and powerlessness. It was in distraught over the murky future that I finally sat down and reflected seriously about who I was as a person.

Through that period of time, I received enormous help – from seniors whom I had barely known to friends who have always been by my side. They shared selflessly with me about their thoughts on life and choices, and guided me patiently to think more carefully. Later in a temple tucked away under the foot of a mountain in China, I meditated for ten days without communicating, further seeking the truth in my life.   After those back-wrenching hours with intense focus on the simple breath and body sensations, the art of living, seemed to me – is to see things, including self, as they really are, and to accept them with equanimity.

Now I no longer follow the regime of meditation for self-rumination. However, the process of self-discovery is endless and still on going, and I am learning to know myself better through every experience. At the end of my university application, I knew that I love helping others and the beauty of words, so I am now helping students with application essays (and of course, writing blogs here). During my three-year NGO experience in Singapore, I realized that I value the sense of purpose and I want to help others grow as well – so I am venturing into more give-back opportunities now that I’m a freshman in college. In a school where most people go to parties, I discover that I do not enjoy large social settings and prefer more intimate and deeper bonds, so I embrace solitude and try to join smaller-scale social scenes. Most importantly,  I am aware that I am not perfect and I do not know myself perfectly, so I seek to discover more.

I always believe that the past guides us for the future. Through reflecting and being grateful about what I already have, I am more prepared to take greater risks and to make more informed decisions in the future. I hope that my sharing can spark some reflection on what you have gone through as well. And may everyone be peaceful, content and grateful in life!

Quanzhi Guo

Quanzhi Guo

Quanzhi Quo is a sophomore at Colgate University. You can contact Quanzhi Guo at