You’re about to enter a room full of strangers, where you will have exactly four minutes to tell a story that would convey who you really are. What’s your story?
What the hell can you possibly express in four minutes? I’m just kidding. Four minutes is plenty of time to give someone who doesn’t give a shit about you a brief glimpse of your life. Ignoring the fact that I’ll probably faint if I have to talk to a room full of strangers, here are the first things I’d say about me. I’ll write it in ten minutes because in my nervousness I talk much faster than I write. And I’m writing this the way I would talk, so please disregard the less than stellar grammar and vocabulary.
I grew up in Beijing where I spent the majority of my times within the pale gray walls of boarding school in the suburbs, dozens of miles away from my actual home. It was there that I became a devoted flashlight reader, and thus began the meteoric decline of my eyesight. Nothing else really stood out from that period, other than the fact that I was very loud and obnoxious, which totally changed when I moved to New Zealand in 2004. My first years there were miserable. Friends were almost non-existent because the only English words I understood were “yes” and “no.” And “hello.” Maybe on a good day I can distinguish a question from a statement, but that’s pointless because I didn’t know how to respond, anyway. That’s when I fell in love with writing. Only the flimsy, white (now yellow and long lost) papers of my journals understood my nonsensical grammar and misspelled, incorrectly chosen vocabulary. For months and years I wrote like a madwoman, and slowly, very slowly, my sentences started to gel and my ideas started to take shape. Five years ago, I left New Zealand for the Land of the Free and settled in the Californian desert. Gone were some of my insecurities and gone too were my journals. I started high school in Irvine and the rest is history. Part of me wishes I hadn’t so carelessly discarded those journals, because they played such a significant role in shaping the person I am today. They saved me when my loneliness and insecurities threatened to eat me whole.
Can I say all that in four minutes? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll have to mumble a bit more than usual. If there’s anything to take away from these 240 secs of my life, I guess it’s that what defines us can often be something others don’t see.