Keyi Cui

I will never forget two Bible verses my father showed me as a young boy. They say, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:26-27). Regardless of the many worries I’ve had in my life, these verses always washed them away. The important lesson is not that humans do more than birds on a daily basis; the important lesson is that we will all eventually find our path in life. Even so, it took me years to realize that.

On my first day of kindergarten, I was in complete disarray. I did not know what to expect from school, or even myself. What are the teachers like? What will we learn? Will I fit in? There I was, a nervous wreck with no front teeth walking with my parents through those enormous double doors. I was terrified at the idea of spending hours away from home with strangers. My mom constantly warned me not to talk to strangers, yet she was leaving me with a room full of them. Why? Eventually, everyone sat down and introduced themselves. A brief scan of the room revealed everything from incessant desk tapping to fervent nail biting. That’s when it hit me: These strangers were as terrified of me as I was of them. As weird as that day was, I realized the place I had dreaded for weeks was the place I would come to love. I soon met other kids who watched The Backyardigans and befriended many more over goldfish at snack time. Like a young nestling, I was growing accustomed to something new.

Middle school, on the other hand, was a different story. Kids began branching off into cliques, too scared to mingle with different people. Teachers began assigning homework to be done independently. I got my own schedule and was expected to find my way to every class before the bell rang. And let’s not forget the awkward curse that was puberty. What happened? For a time, I missed the freedom and self-discovery of elementary school. But then I started extracurriculars. I auditioned for the jazz band, played soccer for the school team and even joined the debate team. Not only that, but I was no longer relegated to supervised play dates. My friends and I could go out for Pontillo’s Pizza, text about the black bear roaming the school grounds or play Call of Duty on our PS4s. After a shaky start, we were finally discovering ourselves at our own pace; we were finally starting to fly.

Unfortunately, the raging hurricane that was high school changed my flight patterns. Every afternoon, mountains of homework assignments filled my backpack and consumed my attention. For the first time in my life, I could barely keep up. In retrospect, however, it wasn’t all that bad. If anything, high school was the place where I spread my wings further than I ever had before. In those four quick years, I discovered weight-lifting, politics, and yes, anime. But more importantly, I formed deep bonds with kids and teachers alike. I will never forget Mr. DeCarlo’s “Cuba-Cuba” story or the Putin memes made by my buddy Patrick Ribas.

Even though I will miss my hometown, I am coming to a place that shall serve as my home away from home. My goal: to successfully transform into a new member of the Yale community. I hope to soar above my fear of a difficult transition with the wings I grew at home. I can now fly on my own.

Like me, you’ve left your nests and everything familiar behind you. But don’t fret; be glad that you made it. Be sure to say your goodbyes, but be ready to greet your new classmates. As different as you seem, you all have a lot in common. Rejoice because you can continue this journey of self-discovery with such amazing people—many of whom you have yet to meet.  Despite the stress of writing your college application essay, you made it. In spite of all those coffee-fueled, panic-ridden all-nighters, you made it. Though you disliked those goofy braces and horrific acne, you made it. There will still be times of uncertainty, as there always are, but you will find your path in life. Just look at the birds. If they can confidently soar through the sky, why can’t you?

Marc-Henry Dorval marc-henry.dorval@yale.edu