The Student News Site of Shaker High School

Introspection #9: Every Bike Needs Their Breaks

“If you were a bicycle part, which part would you be?”


When my college interviewer asked me that question on one foggy Wednesday afternoon, my mind immediately went into panic mode. Pools of sweat started forming on my palms, and I instinctively reached for my bottle of Bath & Body Works aromatherapeutic hand lotion. I was relieved to be at home, making it somewhat easier to seemingly conceal from my interviewer the overwhelming tenseness that was racing through my heart. I knew that it was common for college interviews to contain one or two extraneous questions, but a question as abstract as the one I just received was worrisome…

And yet… also intriguing. I tried to force my mind to grasp onto any ounce of creativity that it had left, despite the interview happening after seven hours of staring at a computer screen for my remote classes. The mental challenge, nevertheless, sparked undeniable excitement within me. In fact, I can definitely say that my interview with this college alumni, due to our particularly interesting conversations, was my favorite out of all of the undergraduate interviews that I had. 

At that moment, I briefly reflected on the lessons I learned in the past two years, which were characterized by the physically-isolating pandemic,  arduous college preparations, and other momentous events. After I internally processed the prevalent themes that I came across recently on my journey as a maturing adult, I conceived an answer to my interviewer’s wild question that I thought would describe me the best.

“The brake.”

Without bicycle brakes, cyclists would be prone to constant danger with their inability to stop. Can you imagine what would happen if all of our bikes lacked brakes? Disaster. There would be regrettable times when we vigorously bike so much without stopping, that we mistakenly bring ourselves to perilous situations with no tool to save ourselves. Treacherous accidents would alarmingly magnify in quantity. Innumerable injuries would afflict countless innocent people. Thus, riding a bike would no longer be a leisurely activity, instead, the thought of mounting a bicycle would fill us with dread. 

Just as we need brakes on our bikes when pedaling forward to a destination, we need moments to pause while chasing toward our futures.

2020 and early 2021 have given us a lot of reasons to want to jump to the far future. A future in which COVID-19 is banished, the pressure of seeing your face in Zoom meetings is diminished, masks will no longer be a required nuisance, merciless death tolls would cease to threaten the world, etc. Given our current pressing circumstances, many of us are impatiently waiting for what is next in life, desperately aching for time to accelerate so we can be free from the nightmares of the present. 

However, we forget that beauty exists in the present as well.

I get that life today can, to be blunt, “suck” for a lot of individuals. However, the life that we have is always defined by what we choose to make of it, whether we are in a COVID-ridden world or not. So, we should always remember to find the silver lining in every tragic situation that we come across, even if that lining requires thorough determination to unveil. For instance, I was initially worried over the fact that my parents would be in my house all the time as I engaged in remote learning this school year. After all, no one really wants their parents to be in “school” with them all the time, so learning alongside them this year has definitely provoked a form of stress that I never thought I would have to worry about throughout high school until the coronavirus struck. 

Yet, I acknowledge that I also can spend more time with them and my sister compared to before since I am essentially forced to stay with them at home as much as possible to practice social distancing. Especially when I, hopefully, move away to college in a less COVID-oppressed environment, interactions with my family will be more precious than ever. Hence, I take advantage of the COVID lockdown’s opportunity to revere my last remaining moments permanently residing with caring individuals who I will seldom see during my college years. Of course, we will still keep in touch via technology, but it will never compare to the fondness of my mom and sister’s warm hugs and my father’s proud fist bumps.

Like many individuals, though, there are honestly moments when I wish that 2021 can just pass. The feeling of waiting is absolutely the worst for many of us who hold restless desires to live life as luxuriously as we yearn to as soon as possible. Personally, I have waited so long for all of my college decisions, a more independent life after high school, the ability to pursue a college’s exciting opportunities, and more. However, we will wear ourselves out if we continue to live in haste. We need to stay humble and be grateful for the elusive joy that our lives still graciously hold onto in our gloomiest moments. Do not rashly toss away any of the present’s wondrous possibilities like a plastic straw that can still be recycled into something marvelous. Make the most out of your life, and appreciate the delicate memories that you can still make today, rather than lament over what could have been. 

If we continue to live life in a perpetual state of pessimism, we will never find happiness when reflecting on our past. Instead, when we look back, dissatisfaction would cloud our minds over how lackluster our lives turned out to be since we constantly expected better opportunities to come to us, rather than the other way around. Even though it may be difficult, I encourage others to find light in these dark and unprecedented times. We only have one life, which is too short to live in restless rapidity. Cherish every moment.

Stop pedaling for a while, and embrace the life you can carve for yourself now.

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