Growing Up and Growing Into Badminton

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

As I raised my arm to smash the birdie, I let out a whoop of excitement at finally being able to play my favorite sport with friends again. When I found out about my school’s badminton club, I signed up right away, but realized that I wouldn’t be able to go because of my mother. However, it wasn’t because she’s overprotective. It was because she’s a tiger mom, and restricted me from doing so many things I loved.

When clubs started, I watched as all my friends headed off. My closest friend, Jason Qu, had also joined the badminton club. I avoided him because I didn’t want to explain why I couldn’t go. I felt that if I told him the reason, he would think badly of me. After school, I trudged home, watching my friends playing Frisbee and badminton in the courtyard, desperately wishing I could join them. The next day, Jason asked me why I hadn’t gone to club. I hesitated, then nonchalantly said, “Oh, I forgot I had to pick up my sister.”

“Well, you better come next time, you goof. You left me all alone,” he replied.

“All lonely without me, eh?” I winked. But I couldn’t help thinking about what excuse I would have to come up with next time, and the time after that.

Although my life had been like this ever since I can remember, I foolishly believed that entering high school would finally give me some freedom. All it did, though, was make me realize how everyone else was becoming more independent, and I was stuck where I was.

The thought that the world was against me made me extremely pessimistic. I’d always been humorous, optimistic, and so talkative I wouldn’t have been surprised if everyone found me annoying. But my attitude did a complete 180 one day. How could I have known all my high school dreams would be crushed? I became quiet and sullen, carrying a blank expression on my face at all times, a shell of my former self.

One day, after missing out on badminton club yet again, Jason confronted me. “Let’s have a serious talk,” he told me.

“What do you want to talk about?” I asked, without a flicker of emotion.

“Why you’re acting like this. What happened? You’ve become so distant lately.”

I went silent for a moment, contemplating if I should tell him. I looked up, about to say, “Nothing happened, I’ve just been tired lately”, when I saw the concern on his face. I faltered and stayed silent. “Tell me. I promise I won’t judge you,” he reassured me. I hesitated, then told him about how depressed I had been recently, and how it was all because my mom was so strict and wouldn’t let me do anything. “It’s hard to stay positive when there’s nothing to look forward to each day,” I told him. “I see everyone else doing what they want, and I just feel confined.” As I told him my story, I felt myself tearing up. When I finished, I looked up and saw him wiping his tears.

“Don’t focus on the negativity in your life. Just be the way you’ve always been, and don’t compare your life to others. Just focus on the little things that make your life meaningful, and if it helps, try to convince your mom to let you join the badminton club,” he said as he gave me a hug. “Also, you better not keep stuff like this to yourself next time. If you have something bothering you, just tell me.”

In the end, I was able to convince my mother to let me join the club. But more than joining the club, I was able to realize just how valuable my life already was, and how essential happiness is in the hardest of times. Through overcoming this challenge, I’m now able to smile earnestly.

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