All the things I never used to care about

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Cornell Chuaseco

Jessica Liu shares her rocky journey to Cal State LA amid COVID-19.

Jessica Liu, Intern Reporter

Enamored with the idea of independence and being able to make decisions about my own future, I entered college at Cal State LA through the Early Entrance Program.

Due to COVID-19, I was never able to take the SAT, forcing my admission to be deferred one year. In retrospect, I was a lot more upset than necessary, and I deeply resented the pandemic for disrupting the ideal plan that I pictured in my mind. 

Fast forward through a year of daily Zoom meetings, way too much free time and rocky mental health. I was heading to university three years before my peers and one year later than I’d hoped. 

The night I got my acceptance letter, I told my dad I was having second thoughts.

“I know that I’ve wanted to go since sixth grade,” I said to him. “If you asked me last year, I wouldn’t even have thought about it twice. But this year, it feels different. I feel different.”

In eighth grade, I was really unhappy in middle school. I had few friends and felt unmotivated about my future. I wanted nothing more than a new school and a new place with new people. I wanted to reinvent myself, like all the cheesy, eye-roll-worthy motivational quotes said. But it was true. I wanted to shed my old self and start anew.

A year ago, there was nothing I would miss about my old school. Nothing I wouldn’t be willing to leave behind in a heartbeat.

But I wasn’t feeling that way anymore.

What had changed?

Maybe it was the fact that the pandemic made me value the small things about my life a lot more. Maybe it was because as the world was slowly devolving into chaos around me and there was nothing I could do about it, the only things I could cherish and count on were the things I already had. Maybe it was because the future seemed so bleak and so uncertain that the present didn’t seem so bad.

Whatever it was, I was starting to see the opportunities and possibilities that a conventional high school experience would give me.

I wanted to dress up on a Friday night and go out with my best friends and not care about studying for my next midterm. I wanted to grab boba, window-shop, or go to a high school football game. I wanted to not have a single conversation that held more depth than meaningless chatter about the latest fashion trends or which boy we were crushing on. I wanted to do all of these shallow, trivial things. 

Things I had never, ever cared about before.

After all, I had been so ready to throw it all away without a second thought. But now, at the cusp of possibly missing out on or losing these experiences, these little things were giving me pause.

Plagued with indecision, I contemplated it for a month. 

Every decision has its pros and cons. There isn’t necessarily a right decision for many things. However, these choices would really shape the course of my life.

My life would probably look very different now if I had chosen differently. 

And that’s okay.

Because it didn’t mean one route would have necessarily been better than the other. They were just different, each offering its own unique set of obstacles and opportunities.

The semester was starting.

My mom’s car pulled up in front of the USU, and I stepped on to the Cal State LA campus.