A History of Michael Bloomberg’s Political Ambitions

Revisiting one of America’s richest businessmen and former democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg.

Michael Bloomberg is not particularly new to the world of politics. The founder of the a billion-dollar financial data company first pursued his political interests in 2000 by self-financing his victorious bid to become mayor of New York City. 

In the midst of the global financial crisis back in 2008, Bloomberg, then-mayor of New York City, realized that the end of his second, and what should have been the final, term of holding mayoral office was nearing. However, taking advantage of the financial upheavals within the city, Bloomberg announced that he would challenge the city’s term limits, thereby running for a third term as mayor. 

New York City had a notoriously strict two-term limit for elected officials–a system with overwhelming support from New Yorkers. There had been two attempts prior to Bloomberg’s to repeal and reform the policy in 1996 and 2002: the former fought to grant  lawmakers only 8 years of service instead of 12, and the latter prevented the rather popular Rudy Giulani from running a third term amid the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 

Citing his business experience and leadership qualities as his qualifications to help the city persist through the economic upheavals, Bloomberg presented a revision of the term limit laws that would ultimately enable him, the five borough presidents, and the 51 city council members eligible to run for three terms. 

Bloomberg knew better and avoided introducing this proposal to the populace. Instead, he opted to take on a backdoor approach in which he would change the law through legislation in City Council, coincidentally chaired by his longtime friend, Simcha Felder. During his final weeks as mayor, Bloomberg worked to gather support from the rest of the Council members, business leaders, and newspaper editorial boards for his proposal. Bloomberg’s political maneuvering carried great political risk and eventually exposed his efforts to manipulate a core aspect of municipal politics with his wealth. Bloomberg’s proposal was later passed 29-22 by the Council.

Bloomberg’s third-term mayoral campaign certainly strengthens the idea that a porous boundary exists between financial wealth and political power. However, his short yet humiliating presidential campaign suggests otherwise. According to the Atlantic, “Bloomberg spent half a million dollars in the span of 16 weeks, and dropped out less than 12 hours after polls closed on Super Tuesday.” 

Money, sure, allows one to invest a quarter of a billion dollars to flood advertisements in Super Tuesday states and hold fully-catered private events reserved for supporters. Ultimately, Bloomberg’s rather egotistical and stubborn presence throughout most of the crucial debates failed to resonate with the American people. At the end of the day, the only distinguishing factor between Bloomberg and his opponents was money that turned out to be futile. 

With his strong record as New York City mayor and his recent efforts to curb gun violence and climate change allowed him to rise in the polls–that is until Bloomberg set foot on the debate stage in the Las Vegas Democratic Debate. It wasn’t only this single debat that made Bloomberg’s lack of charisma and appealing speech delivery patent. His other debate performances after the Las Vegas Debate were quite disappointing as he failed to effectively respond to his opponents’ questions and displayed a rather arrogant and aloof stage presence. 

Perhaps, Michael Bloomberg’s failed Democratic presidential campaign is a harbinger for the fall of plutocracy, demonstrating that wealth is no longer directly proportional to political capital–at least not to the extent it once was.

Are We Underestimating E-scooter Risks?

E-Scooters are rising in popularity across the globe, especially in Korea. But, are the regulations on these electric hybrids too lax?

A common dilemma for people working outside of their homes is transportation. How do you avoid traffic or crowded subways without wasting money on taxis? How do you get there on time while not having to put in the tiring effort of riding a bike? E-Scooters, which are easy-to-use, battery-powered transportation devices, seem to be the perfect solution. 

E-Scooters have had a notable rise in popularity in Korea. According to the Korea Startup Forum and the Shared Personal Mobility Alliance (SPMA), there are now 52,080 E-Scooters in Korea, which is a sharp increase from the 17,130 E-Scooters last year. E-Scooters are an excellent way to get to places on time and are accessible to a wide age range. However, with rising cases of E-Scooters accidents and breaches in public safety guidelines, concerns have been rising over the regulations in place over the use of these machines. According to an article from Yonhap News, certain E-Scooters regulations will become effective in December under Korea’s Road Traffic Act. The regulations include officially categorizing the E-Scooters as a type of bicycle, which allows E-Scooters riders who don’t have driver’s licenses to use bicycle roads. In addition, the age limit for riding an E-Scooter will be decreased from 18 to 13 years old. Additionally, the penalty for not wearing a helmet will no longer be in effect (Kim, 2020). 

Parents, teachers, and other worried citizens have spoken out against these lax regulations, insisting that the authorities must make them more strict. E-Scooters can be very dangerous on roads and sidewalks as people will be navigating through crowds or in front of traffic at speeds of up to 25 kilometres per hour. In addition, many people are seen without helmets on these fast moving vehicles, which poses a safety hazard to the riders. Another problem is that E-Scooter riders are often found riding these machines with two people on a single scooter. There are currently no regulations that address this problem. 

Many citizens have pondered over what would be the best ways to limit E-Scooter accidents. Some suggest having E-Scooter riders pay heavier fines when involved in an accident. Others suggest having a higher age limit (Kim, 2020). However, a solution brought up that I believe is the most effective and logical way is to implement  a separate law for E-Scooters, segways, electric skateboards, and other newly developed transportation machines. 

Perhaps, in the future, a separate road specifically for these types of devices could be created. They function at a different speed range and agility than typical bikes, and should therefore require a different set of rules. A regulation that enforces the use of helmets should most certainly be established, as well as speed limits in certain places (such as a lower limit in school-zones). There should also be several rules in regards to having more than one person on a singular scooter. The age limit of 13 years old is too young, and riders should at least be 18 before being allowed to ride E-Scooters without proper supervision. 

Accidents with E-scooters should be taken more seriously as they can have tragic and irreversible consequences. If you or a family member or friend rides an E-Scooter, make sure to take proper safety precautions, and to think logically about what the right way to handle these machines is. 

With all due respect, just wear a helmet.

– Michelle Lee ‘22

Featured Image: Let’sKick/Unsplash

Truly Away from the Formulaic? An SAT-Less Year of College Admissions

The coronavirus has complicated the standard college admissions process, including standardized tests such as the SAT. However, it seems far-fetched for many students to abandon the tried-and-tested.

For years, the Scholastic Aptitude Test, better known as the SAT, has been a universal rite of passage for many high school students.

This year, this might not be the case.

The global coronavirus pandemic has interfered in almost all walks of life—with education being no exception. Over 400 colleges and universities preparing to receive applicants from the class of 2021 have modified their application standards: namely, dropping either SAT and ACT score requirements in high school transcripts. While most schools have opted to maintain this test-blind policy for this year only in order to accommodate for a large number of students who are unable to access testing facilities or face a deluge of canceled tests, others colleges have relaxed SAT score-sends for three years or even permanently. To say that this is abnormal is an understatement: this is unprecedented

Some may shrug this off as a one-time incident. But for many, this is bigger— a chance. It is a chance to prove a point to abandon the formulaic. We as students have been told time and time again that standardized tests are not the end-all be-all of college admissions but seldom does it feel that way. Heralded is the test-blind leeway afforded to students this year, lauded as a potential difference-maker for college admissions in future years. For years education experts have asserted that standardized tests like the SAT are poor indicators of student success in higher education. This year could be the catalyst for change as admissions officers are able to look beyond the arbitrary than usual and can substantiate in later years that a (hopefully) four-digit test score shouldn’t be one of the primary indices for classifying a student’s academic merits. 

But we may be squandering a chance for the future, as we woefully ignore an out-of-the-blue chance for change right before us in favour of our personal security. Call me a hypocrite—I’ve taken the SAT twice this year, and I wasn’t planning on stopping until I got my score—but aren’t we all hypocrites? The SAT will continue to be a staple of our admissions process year-in and year-out. According to CollegeBoard data, roughly 2.2 million Class of 2020 students took the SAT, up from the 2.1 million from the previous class. We high schoolers incessantly continue to sign up for the SATs month after month without a second thought even as we all breathe a sigh of relief that scores are no longer mandatory for the 2021 class.

“It might’ve been a great opportunity,” one senior remarked after being asked about numerous UC colleges dropping their obligatory SAT score inclusions, “it could’ve placed more stress on the importance of other aspects of our resumes—extracurriculars, service, and etcetera”. 

But when asked about whether he would send his SAT scores, the senior responded that he would, citing that “a lot of other seniors are planning on sending scores, so why wouldn’t I?”, noting “after all, it’s college admissions culture, all of us want to get a leg up on the competition no matter what it takes.” 

For years, the Scholastic Aptitude Test, better known as the SAT, has been a universal rite of passage for many high school students.

For years, this will continue to be the case. 

Lucas Lee ‘22

Featured Image: CNN

On Cats and Dogs

The stereotypes are timeless… but how true are they?

Dogs are pretty easy. Dogs will literally jump at the opportunity to join a family, and they have a surefire tell for when they’re happy. It’s easy to include a dog in your family. 

Cats are different. They show more anxiety, they’re very cautious and curious and jumpy. So to someone new, they meet a dog and it’s usually all over them, it gives them love and affection and warmth. Someone new meets a cat and the cat is usually evasive and bound to its own personal bubble. But like people, cats who have that innate sense of anxiety also have the path to opening up and building a relationship with people. Cats are so loving and affectionate to people they trust. They express this trust most often by sleeping next to these people, especially with their bellies showing. Cats will also stay next to you while you’re sleeping, because they want to watch over you and make sure you’re safe, like you did for them. 

It makes it so much harder to learn to love cats. Especially for people who are generally impatient from having dogs, or they tend to act more openly in their own relationships with people, and expect the same kind of thing from a cat. It draws the correlation between introversion and cats and extroversion and dogs, which has been a typical relationship that has been made. But cats can still learn family dynamics. 

If I consider the different personalities between the majority of cats and the majority of dogs, to say that dogs are better is to substantiate the type of personality that is always energetic and friendly and personable, even though introverted people are being better understood now and more appreciated. Having too many people in a group can lead to a draining feeling for introverts, and similarly, cats tend to face difficulties in bigger groups. On the other hand, dogs will be the center of attention in big groups and thrive in that love. 

I love both animals. But it’s evident that they have starkly different relationship paths, which is partly why they appeal to different people. But cats are not cold and angry for their whole lives if you build a relationship with them. 

– Sean Choe ‘21

Featured Image: Shutterstock

The Uncertainty of Flu Vaccines in Korea

There has been a rise in deaths of citizens who recently received the flu vaccine. It is unlikely that the vaccine was the cause of their death, but what is the right course of action of vaccine-providers to ease public concerns?

With each spike in Coronavirus cases, hospitals have been on the verge of overflowing, without enough equipment or rooms for their patients. Now that the Flu Season is underway, South Korean officials are concerned over whether hospitals can handle the influx of flu patients on top of COVID-19 patients. In order to prevent an overload of patients in hospitals, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) has started a free flu vaccine program for which 19 million people are eligible (BBC News). However, concerns have been growing over the safety of these vaccines as several deaths possibly linked to vaccination were recorded. As of Friday, October 23rd, at least 48 South Korean citizens have died after receiving a flu vaccine (KBS World Radio). The highest recorded number of deaths that occurred after flu vaccination was six deaths in 2005. However, the number of people being vaccinated in 2020 is much higher, which could be the reason for the sudden spike in deaths (The Korea Times). In addition to the deaths, according to Jung Eun-kyeong, the KDCA Chief, there have been 353 cases of abnormal reactions linked to vaccinations this year. 

Although most of the deaths that occurred were among elderly citizens aged 70 or older, a few of which having underlying health conditions, a 17 year old boy died two days after receiving a flu shot. His vaccine was one of around 5 million doses that had been accidentally exposed to room-temperature. This batch of vaccines was re-collected and tested for quality control, however, the testers found no irregularities or toxic substances in the vaccines. The death of such a young person sparked fears amongst parents who were planning on getting their children vaccination as well. Lim Yi-young, the mother of a four year old son, stated that she was “too frightened to get him the vaccine” after hearing of the recent deaths (The Korea Times).

The KDCA has decided to continue with the vaccination program, assuring the public that there is no definite correlation between the casualties and the flu vaccinations. KDCA officials say that it would be difficult to suspend the program at such a critical time, emphasizing the number of deaths caused by the flu itself each year. However, the KDCA also states that the vaccination will be suspended immediately if any issues are found with the vaccines. On the other hand, the Korean Medical Association (KMA) has a contrasting stance, stating that the government should put the program on hold until the cause of the deaths have been confirmed. According to KDCA Commissioner Jeong Eun-kyeong, confirming the cause of death by conducting autopsies on the bodies would take around two weeks to complete. KMA President, Choi Dae-zip, states that the government should pause the program in order to identify the “cause of the recent deaths and ease the people’s concerns” (The Korea Times). 

Although the beginning of the flu season is a crucial time and the influx of patients could overwhelm hospitals across South Korea, reassuring the public and ensuring public safety is also extremely important. As Jeong Eun-kyeong stated, completing the autopsies and tests would take around two weeks to complete. Following the advice of the KMA, the KDCA should take the time to re-collect the released vaccines and conduct one more quality-control test on all of the vaccines as well as confirm the causes of the deaths. This will ease public panic, allowing more parents and families to feel comfortable getting vaccinated and ultimately having a positive impact on flu cases if completed in a timely manner. 

– Michelle Lee ‘22

Featured Image: Sam Moqadam/Unsplash

The Power of Anonymity

I mean yes, some of the posts shared on those anonymous platforms may have stated agreeable opinions that deserved praise (seriously); however, it is also the unavoidable reality that those opinions were brought up and voiced under veiled, unknown, figures.

The rise and fall of the Instagram “KIS anon confessions” page or the endless student complaints on the “kisbamboogrove” Facebook page are just some examples that demonstrate the power of anonymity. 

Not only does the mighty power of anonymity allow students who are unable to publicly address their concerns towards our school administration and their peers serve as a tool to express their angers, but it also supplies our student body with a toxicity that is quite frankly, ridiculously amusing. 

The margins of internet anonymity and those impacted by it extend beyond KIS students to pretty much every internet/social media user in the world: 59% of the global population (Statista).

Of course, a side of anonymity allows individuals to voice their opinions without having to fear judgment, but nowadays it seems like this isn’t the most prevalent use of this feature. Instead, anonymity has become a utility that liberates people from fearing the consequences of their words and actions.

I mean yes, some of the posts shared on those anonymous platforms may have stated agreeable opinions that deserved praise (seriously); however, it is also the unavoidable reality that those opinions were brought up and voiced under veiled, unknown, figures.

While South Korea boasts an internet penetration rate (percentage of internet users compared to the national population) of 95.9% compared to the global average of 59% and the largest network of cybercafes, it is no surprise that we are also home to one of the highest teenage suicide rates, the highest online teenage bullying rates, and an extremely ruthless culture of hate comments and celebrity cancellation.

Ask yourself: What do all these statistics have in common? They are all byproducts of toxic online anonymity. The power of anonymity not only staples a mask that molds an unknown identity, but it also breeds a destructive nature that is fueled by the relentless and merciless nature of it.

Let’s remember one thing. Behind every piercing comment and its target are two individual human beings: and you could be either of them. But in reality, most of us are unable to graciously embrace the weight of both these roles.

In my sincerest thinking, I don’t entirely disapprove of criticism itself, as it is an unavoidable phase of the high school and teenage experience. However, I do pause in hesitation when I see individuals abusing the sense of misguided power they gain when hiding behind their screens, spitting comments that they would never dare to express in real life. 

Here’s my not-so-anonymous comment: if you can’t say it to their face, don’t say it at all.

– SJ Yang ‘21

Featured image: Quentin Carnaille/Quentin Carnaille Selected Works

The Perfect Body

Society holds high body standards that pressures girls. This article is will explain the impact of these toxic standards and possible ways to overcome this.

Wake up. Change clothes. Eat breakfast. Brush teeth. Leave home. This is the standard morning routine for most people, but one step, in particular, tends to take up more time than expected: looking in the mirror. According to the TODAY survey from NBC, most girls spend over an hour a day looking at the mirror. 

While looking in the mirror, millions of thoughts may run through one’s head. Too fat, too skinny, too ugly, too short– there are infinite variations of toxic self-bashing judgments. And the driving motivator behind this is the society’s pressure on girls to have the “perfect” body, effectively damaging their self-confidence.

Such toxic culture obsessed with looks can have a negative impact on one’s career as well. Research shows that skinny girls are more likely to get chosen for a job. 93% of people agree that girls are judged more on appearance than ability. If other people discriminate against girls by their bodies, imagine the psychological effect this has on their self-image? Girls will believe that they are held back because of their looks. Not only does this occur when applying for a job, but it also continues after employment. 

Before posting a photo, editing is an essential step. Nearly 20% of girls admitted that their profile picture on social media is edited to the point where it doesn’t represent them at all. Editing apps that morph people’s bodies into slim figures only encourage girls to believe that skinny is beautiful. 

This phenomenon is certainly not just social media-based; it’s widespread in real life too, especially in the model industry. Despite the fact that models are already thin, according to Vogue, over 62% of models were told to lose weight by their agencies. In addition to that, 54% of models were told that they wouldn’t be able to find a job if they don’t slim down. Consequently, there are countless numbers of fashion models that suffer from eating disorders. This is probably why anorexia, a type of eating disorder, is the most common among models. And this eating disorder, Anorexia, can be fatal; Ana Carolina Reston is a model that died of starvation. Besides not eating, models also do plastic surgery to lose weight. In fact, around 10 out of 100 models were recommended by agencies to get plastic surgeries like liposuction, which is a process that removes body fat.

The irony is that while mainstream media pressures regular girls to look up to thin models as the ultimate embodiment of beauty, the models themselves constantly face eating disorders and negative feedback from their agency. In the end, the “perfect” body is impossible to attain.

So why bother trying? There is no “perfect” body. It doesn’t exist. We are all perfect just the way we are. Our society keeps reminding girls that they should have the “perfect’ body; therefore, we need to take action. We should promote positive body images to take away the pressure that society puts on girls to be skinny. Girlguiding is the UK’s largest girls-only organization, and this organization launched a social media challenge to compliment girls on social media by using hashtags like #youareamazing. Participate in this challenge to spread positive body images. #Youareamazing

– Sohee Sophia Yoon (‘23)

Featured image: Sohee Sophia Yoon (‘23)

New KIS attendance policies due to Covid

Complaining has become a daily exchange in our everyday regimens. But today, I’d like to challenge this commonplace routine that we’ve all become so accustomed to.

Weeks into the start of another school year, the PTO and administration have come to settle a new attendance policy for KIS students: seniors at school, virtual for the rest. After weeks and months of tedious social distancing protocols, the introduction of this policy has spurred discussions across our school community ranging from teachers and parents to bus drivers and the Hyundai catering lunch workers. 

First, let’s keep in mind that this “decision” wasn’t really an individual’s choice but rather a national command from the Korean Ministry of Education to all students of public and international schools in South Korea. In other words, whether you’re a student, a teacher, or a parent, you’ll have to stick with these policies, at least until they further revise our plans.

As a senior myself, I’m not intensely bothered by the new “senior only” policy. Not only am I breaking away from the unhealthy habits and temptations of virtual learning, but I am also enjoying the physical company of my peers (socially distanced, of course). Though the school feels a little empty, it is much less hectic. And yes, taking the school bus to school and back home every day is tedious and time consuming. But still, I very much enjoy the presence of being at school and just learning in real life. 

A great emphasis of this issue is directed towards the students’ perspectives. Not just seniors, but juniors and the underclassmen. Although individual preferences can vary, it is true that being present at school isn’t always the most favorable option. Some people think of it as a convenience to learn virtually, while others think it is an opportunity missed. What about parents? While some parents think their children are having valuable learning experiences taken away, other parents strictly disapprove of their children going to school.

So many perspectives surround this debate and they extend to the forms of arguments and more complaints. In fact, complaining has become a daily exchange in our everyday regimens. But today, I’d like to challenge this commonplace routine that we’ve all become so accustomed to. 

Why are we complaining in the first place? Remember back in March when we yearned to come back to school? Taking things into perspective, we are still international school students with a plethora of privileges. We have school buses comfortably taking us from and back to school. We have access to English spoken classes that are supplied by our online resources and expensive computers as well as internet connection. Are the school lunches not “tasty” enough? At least we still have access to consistent meals and besides, packing our own lunch is always an option. 

Simply put, we are still living under favorable circumstances amidst a very difficult time. Things could really be worse. Though everyone is being economically impacted (unless your mom or dad works for Zoom), most of our parents still afford to send us to expensive hagwons and provide allowances while assisting us in their full capacity. 

Things are and have been difficult for us. But let’s remember that there are always others struggling more. And more importantly, everyone is going through the same –if not worse – difficulties as us. And although many of us are fairly aware of these privileges, we could practice setting for a deeper consideration, at least before taking out our complaints.

Maybe it’s time to abandon our individualistic mindsets and make room for broader perspectives. You decide.

Featured image: John Oh (’21)

– SJ Yang (’21)

Anti-Government Groups Conflict With Enforcement of COVID-19 Safety Measures

Religious groups in South Korea as well as anti-maskers in the States have protested against the enforcement of Coronavirus safety measures, conflicting with efforts to limit the spread of the disease.

Between September of 1918 and April of 1920, the notorious “Spanish Flu”, or H1N1 influenza A virus, raged across the globe, killing over 50 million people and infecting nearly  500 million. The Philadelphia decided not to cancel the Liberty Loan Parade, a promotional patriotic parade scheduled for September 28th , despite the ongoing pandemic.. On the day of the parade, 200,000 people poured into Broad Street, cheering and celebrating shoulder to shoulder in large crowds. As a result, the cases in Philadelphia nearly doubled in the span of a week. 

Though we’d assume we would learn from our historical mistakes, these unfortunate events have promptly repeated themselves with the unfolding of the COVID-19 outbreak. With skeptical anti-maskers, restless party-goers, and an inadequate government response, the cases in the US have skyrocketed.

South Korea has been able to avoid the tragic situation of the US with a swift and efficient response from the leading health officials. However,with the reopening of schools and several businesses came a sudden upturn of COVID-19 cases. Experts suspect certain church groups who have shown resistance against COVID-19 prevention requirements and have continued to meet in groups that exceed attendance restrictions enforced by the government. Much to the dismay of students and faculty, schools have shut down and resumed online learning. A number of shops that have suffered from virus outbreaks have also closed their doors. 

The Sarang Jeil Church is a right-wing religious group of Christians in South Korea. The group has become a huge topic of controversy with their members packing together in anti-government protests, and even going as far as to believe that the virus could potentially be a communist terrorist attack on their religious group. They claim that the South Korean president Moon Jae-In will turn South Korea into a communist country under his rule. Despite many of the members and even the Pastor, Jun Kwang-Hoon, testing positive for the virus, the members continued to rally in the streets, fueling the rapid ongoing spread of the virus. 

Doesn’t this sound familiar?

Don’t the baseless claims of the anti-government Sarang Jeil Church group resemble the baseless claims of many anti-government US citizens? Haven’t the reasonless anti-maskers also fallen victim to the ailment of misinformation and corrupt media? According to Han Hwan-ho, a member of the Sarang Jeil Church, members rushed to unite with their fellow members in order to “to defend [their] country’s alliance with the United States and our freedom of religion”. Similar themes of freedom have surfaced in the United States with anti-maskers claiming that coronavirus safety measures are an infringement upon their personal rights. Protests by anti-maskers in the US, who rally without their masks and ignore social distancing, have contributed greatly to case spikes in several states. Similarly, gatherings of church members who ignore safety measures in Korea have also caused a sizable portion of increases in COVID-19 cases. These are the times in which listening to government authority is critical in preventing the spread of the virus, and citizen must protect each other by following safety guidelines. 

These unfortunate instances of ignorance and mistrust amongst anti-government protesters shine a bright light on the underlying social problems in both the US and South Korea as well as a multitude of other countries. Fake news and leaders who encourage irresponsible and illogical behaviour or beliefs have been shown to undermine attempts to mitigate coronavirus cases and have ultimately cost the world thousands of lives. Perhaps South Korea and the United States have more in common than we thought.

 -Michelle Lee (22′)

Featured Image: Ed Jones/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Writing Can Make You Happier

Are you happy?

I’d like you to close your eyes and think about this question:

“Are you happy?”

Are you happy in this place, in this time, do you enjoy life? Of course, the most likely answer, would be ‘no’. The majority of my peers have answered ‘no’. Each replied with a laugh and a negative reply.

‘Even a retard couldn’t be happy in this place.’  

Why do we think these things? Why can’t we take the steps to smile, to follow the TED-talks, Youtube tutorials, Quora posts, and silly quizzes on unsecure websites—all telling us how to become happier? We sit here, wondering what happiness is, if we truly desire it, our heads tripping into that summer swing that flies nonchalantly through each vague, time-consuming question:

‘Am I happy?’

PC: MicheleSayers

We have all experienced our own hardships, and no matter how their severity may compare to each other, when it comes to deciding whether or not everyone is the same or completely unique there is one thing that all of humankind shares:


Happiness seems to be the most effectual way of healing pain; yet, we struggle remarkably to achieve it. Many young writers begin to write because they are dealing with certain pressures and various forms of stress. Writing usually starts from the books, the happiness of these stories and the places they describe draw us in and make us want to live to see them. And sometimes we cannot help but think that ‘One who writes happy things must be happy.’, thus, in our search of happiness, we begin to write.

But, you don’t necessarily have to always write about happy things. In my case, I drafted quick poems about the darkness of my room, the fear, the pain. However, each time I flipped a page, my words became more positive. Writers at the same time, indulge in pleasant imagery about the better memories of our lives. Though the drafts I created as a child were very badly written, each positive sentence of warmth and comfort placed itself so neatly into my head. Writing provides many with a pillow to cushion the stiff, stoic darkness of our thoughts.

Slowly, life becomes lighter.

This idea of self-healing revealed itself to me in the form of poetry, short, thoughtful walks, and more dozing off into space during breaks. Though the thought of these things may seem like ‘a waste of time’, I assure you they provide the exact opposite.

Many students stress excessively over their grades and test scores and are rarely exposed to “true-boredom”. Boredom seems like the ultimate waste of time, yet boredom is what I believe to be one of the very beginnings of writing. In a state of boredom, one experiences various thoughts, perhaps about the hue of the sky or the rain streaks on the window. Ideas resulting from boredom are often translated into into artistic portrayals of the absurd journey of their thought processes.

The more often one experiences these deeper moments, the better ideas they think of—thus resulting in an individual who is capable of more than just strictly academic thinking. Writing creates a world of escape, a leisurely space in which one can think freely about the things in their life, their opinions, or simply not think about those things at all.

Writing creates a more self-aware and empathetic environment for the writer—what I mean by this is that by writing about yourself and other people, by taking the time to write from the perspectives of those around you or characters from your imagination, you will naturally be given a higher capability of understanding yourself and others. With writing, even a beginner will gain the ability to think deeper and to take on more creative risks.

Taking more risks gives one a wider spectrum of choices in life, they’ll be more willing to seize new opportunities and chances. Studies have shown that the human brain is happier when presented with less flavors of ice cream to choose from, but life is not Baskin Robbins, and opportunities are not ice cream flavors. The more you reach for, the greater chance of you succeeding. While in the process of performing a risk, doubt and hesitation usually appear—which is where writing comes in handy. Writing about the risk you’re taking and why you’re taking it will make you more confident in continuing forward and completing the task you set out to do. You’ll be less fickle about your decision, less hesitant, more brave, and more excited than anxious to take the risk.

This, will ultimately make you, a happier, more accomplished individual, who has taken the risks they have always avoided, and who has taken the opportunities they have always been too scared to take.

– Michelle Lee ‘22

Featured image: MicheleSayers