The award winning student newspaper of Lake Oswego High School

Lake Views

The award winning student newspaper of Lake Oswego High School

Lake Views

The award winning student newspaper of Lake Oswego High School

Lake Views


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Ansley’s Afterthoughts

How I got here

This is going to be a little bit of a different column. I talk a lot about topics that interest me and advice I have to give, but how did I even get here in the first place? Those that know me, knew that I wanted to pursue a career in biomedical engineering, something completely different from journalism, which is what I plan on studying in university. What  prompted this change though?

“Follow your heart.” These words said by my sixth grade English teacher resonated with me, and it is what I started to live by. The journey to pursuing writing was a challenge. I was sent to countless science camps for medical careers, despite my terrible fear of blood. After firmly rejecting another summer spent dissecting frogs, I was shipped off to computer science camps. As I progressed through the minutiae of CS languages though, I had to understand every task in order to be deemed “smart” in a society that values technological prowess. My frustrations with binary numbers filled the pages of my diary and my only wish was to understand how to write in the language of computers.

Through my struggles with binary numbers and loops, I had a secret passion: storytelling. I wanted to be a great author, sharing my wacky imagination with the world. Sitting in front of a computer on coding websites though, kept me from letting my artistry run free on the pages. I thought more and more about switching around my entire life to become humanities oriented instead of STEM oriented. The next period of my life, I struggled with choices that only I knew. Should I follow my heart? Or should I follow the expectations of others? 

I felt like I had already invested so much time in computer science, and throwing it away was a risk I did not want to take. Not at first. But as I became more involved in my yearbook endeavors, I realized that my passion was right in front of me, scribbled on the weathered pages of my spiral bound diary: storytelling. Whether it was student voices or my own imagination, I loved to write.

I started off small by exploring poetry and vignettes. The poem series “Barbie Chang Got Her Hair Done” by Victoria Chang is one of the first poems I took time to digest and appreciate as art. As a freshie who was exploring my identity and self esteem, it resonated with me because it was almost like a mirror that I was looking through. It was a sweet poem, but I loved how diverse the interpretations could be. I could have talked about a hundred different interpretations of the poem because every time I read it, I found new meaning. 

I started to write my own short stories, and my imagination took the reins. I wrote about anything my mind wandered to, from a 1950’s Korean romance, to a dream world that I had created filled with peaches and clouds. I grew the confidence to submit my work into competitions and journals, which motivated me to improve those stories and write more.  When I wrote stories, all of my worries melted away. No pressures, no expectations, but just myself and a spiral bound notebook. 

Eventually I broke away from the STEM path that I was bound to since I was a little girl, and freed myself into the world of pen and paper. At first, I felt like a disappointment, like I had let down my family, and friends who planned to study CS with me. I felt like I was a failure for “giving up,” but I realized that following my aspirations was anything but giving up. I ran toward my true passion despite the funny looks I received, and took a leap of faith with no one holding my hand to pursue something I loved. Plenty of people told me that in the future, “humanities wouldn’t be sustainable,” and that I would “never be stable in life.” I’m not here to live a comfortable life though, or a rich one. I’m here to live a life I enjoyed and loved. 

I took a step further into the humanities waters and applied to be yearbook copy editor and features editor of the school paper. I was also granted the position of co-editor in chief of my school’s literary magazine, Reflections. Being an editor came with a set of hair raising rewards. Along with writing stories, I was able to read stories. That goes back to some of my favorite hobbies: reading and writing. I could still write about issues and topics that interested me, but I could also read about the voices all around the school and community. I could also read about larger scale issues that hadn’t occurred to me yet. Reading about people that were doing incredible things in my own neighborhood inspires me to be the best version of myself I can be. 

Fighting the expectations that were set on my shoulders was no easy task, but I’m extremely grateful I had the courage to search for what my true passion was. Success is not only achievement–it is also embracing devotion and striving to be the person you were truly meant to be. Thank goodness I made that leap of faith because now I can storytell without feeling like there are boulders on my shoulders. 

Pursue what you love, work for what you want. Don’t let anyone try and dictate your life based on what they think is best for you. Only YOU know what’s best for you. I preach this a lot but truly, you will be happy when you’re doing what you love–not what others love. 

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