Submitted by Stephanie Pavlova
on 03/06/18

The pursuit of scholarships is a tale perhaps as old as loans. I’ve never lived in an affluent family. I was always the kid getting free or reduced lunch in elementary school, and I had no problem with that. My mom is an immigrant, and my dad is your average hardworking man, and they are content with their means. I always had a full belly, a book in my hand, and a smile on my face. Now that I am almost eighteen, I still have all of these things, except now, I’m on the “ScholarshipOwl” website, instead of procuring affordable lunch to nourish my body, I’m trying to make my postsecondary education affordable so that I can nourish my mind.


Here I am, sitting on an old sofa that has aged remarkably well, making my dreams a reality, when all of a sudden I stumble upon a scholarship that catches my eye. It’s the “A1 Auto Transport” scholarship, and I feel a wave of nostalgia come over me. When I was a kid, I had a strange fascination about cars that move cars. That was my thing. I would always get inexplicably excited when I’d see one of the gargantuan vehicular phenomenons that was in and of itself a convoy of machinery. All of those times my face lit up in the back of my dad’s old ‘80-something Silverado came flooding back to me, and I felt like I was a kid again. I haven’t thought about those trucks in years, because, now when I drive, my eyes are locked on the road rather than scanning the surroundings whooshing by with a sense of wonder that is reserved for children.


I realized that my opinion of my surroundings has shifted tremendously since then. Rather than looking around as we’re traveling through life, we often develop a rigid tunnel-vision *insert Ferris Bueller quote here*. After that auto transport blast from the past, I realized that I was losing touch of that miniature version of myself who always had questions, loved learning facts about anything and everything around her, and was kind of obsessed with cars that drove other cars.


My field of study is biomedical engineering. I definitely still get a kick of learning about how things work, but I’ve lost sight of the reasons that developed my passions. I was the annoying “why” child. I’m quite sure my parents were sick of me a few months after I started speaking. But, annoying or not, I couldn’t figure out a way to shut off my inquizitive brain. Over the years, as I transition into adulthood, I seem to lose a bit of that childlike wonder with each passing trip around the sun. I’m starting to realize that I don’t have to. That is why I want to go to college and chase every single notion that intrigues me and learn its origin, how and why it behaves the way it does.


The reason my torch went out for a while had to do a lot with the not-so-happy, not-as-cool-as-cars-on-a-car stuff that transpired within my very broken family. My mom and dad loathe one another, but both have stuck around for myself and my three siblings. They have always made it explicit that they cannot stand being married, and have said some things that have reverberated in my ears for years after the fact. Both my grandpa and two of my uncles committed suicide when I was a little girl, and I remember growing up very quickly because of it. Many kids are sheltered from bereavement, but I was not. I had a lot of resentment about it when I was still coming to terms with what had happen, but I’ve found acceptance throughout the years. This fasttrack to adulthood has its pros and cons. I’m grateful for the emotional maturity that came with it, but I wish I had more time to be a kid. I know the the car-of-cars didn’t make me radiate joy on my way to bury so many of my beloved family members.


I have grown since then. After all of the sadness subsided, I was more fortified than ever before. Recently, I’ve done a lot of introspection, and I’ve realized that I had gradually put up so many barriers that there’s no room for much of anything else. That’s why coming across this thought-provoking scholarship was so profound. It’s often the most unsuspecting signs in life that resonate with us most. Seeing my childhood road-related superhero on the computer screen when I was in the process of achieving my goals was a really special omen to me. It reminded me that no matter how far I go, no matter how consumed I become in all of the obstacles I face, that I must always leave room for the things that bring me sheer, unadulterated pleasure.


Reflecting upon the blissful simplicity of childhood, it made me yearn to go back in time and tell myself to never ever forget to look out the window, because I envied my little self and her worldly perspective. But after a few seconds of kicking myself and wishing I had appreciated these moment more, I had an epiphany. It dawned on my that those days didn’t have to be over. It’s all about your state of mind. Some people can exist in young bodies with aged souls, and sometimes it’s the other way around. I realize now that I prefer to stay young at heart for as long as humanly possible, because I experienced my peak happiness level when I was still becoming acquainted with the world around me.


At the end of the day, we’re just a bunch of carbon based lifeforms that are trying to figure it out. No one has in completely together, and happiness is a process rather than a destination. Things can seem arbitrary and pointless, but as long as you remember how that car-of-cars or whatever it was that made you smile when you were a tiny human, you’ll never lose the fiery passion within you that illuminates your path. Keep your eyes on the road at all times, but remember to take the scenic route every so often.

Submitted by Stephanie Pavlova
on 03/06/18

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