My University of Life

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It’s been more than a week since I received my acceptance letter from University of Southern California. The high from the excitement and exhilaration has slowly cooled down. My wish has become a reality. I no longer have to dream about attending USC. Instead, I now have to think about it…and you know where thinking leads to…

Worry. Anxiety. Fear. Doubt. Apprehension.

It’s been three years since I’ve last been in school…three years since I’ve flipped open a textbook, three years since I’ve read anything but chick lits and diet magazines. So far, the only workout my brain ever got was from obsessing and calculating weight and calories, and devising crafty tricks and ways to uphold my ED habits and activities.

Suddenly, I was in a total panic. I thought: Oh, dear God. I am so ill-prepared for college. I bet half my brain cells are in a coma from lack of activity! How am I gonna adjust to all the stressful workload and hectic schedule of a college life? What if I don’t even remember how to study anymore? What if…*gasp*, I get (God forbid) a B?!!

You see, I’ve always been a perfectionist. Anything less than an A irks me. In high school, I made sure nothing blemished my perfect 4.0 GPA. The day I got a B+ on my Driver’s Education class, I was seen screaming and slamming lockers in the hallway. I’m not kidding.

So you see where the source of my worries is: my drive for perfectionism. I want to get good grades. I want to do everything, achieve everything. I want to be the best.

As I was worrying about this, a friend whom I had not seen for awhile suddenly sent me an email. In her email, she confessed to me that she has been dabbling with an eating disorder…and she was getting scared…but she did not know who else to turn to. The only person she could think of was me because she knew I was struggling with the same problem. It was a long, heart-wrenching email, and I was cut to the heart for several reasons.

First, I was once again shocked by how prevalent eating disorders are in this world. I’d never even dreamed that this friend would have ED! Second, I was enraged at how conniving and cruel ED is, as my friend poured out her pain and struggles to me. How dare ED rob her potential and happiness like that? And third, I was ashamed.

I was ashamed because I’d let my own selfish dreams get ahead of myself again. What did it matter if I got straight A’s in college? What did it matter if I graduated with honors, or with a prestigious internship? Will I be able to take my report card and trophies and accomplishments with me to the grave? What truly mattered in life?

My parents have always ingrained this to me ever since I was young: There is nothing as important as life. What matters most is my life, and other people’s lives. To be happy, and to make others happy. To treasure and love myself and others.

I believe that I experienced ED for a reason. Through my ED, I learned so much more about life. I gained precious insights and revelations about not only human pain and sufferings, but also inner peace and happiness that comes from God. I may not have gone to an academic university, but I have gone to Life University. And there is much more to learn, much more to experience.

College is so much more than grades. I don’t want to put my #1 priority on my academic achievement, but on my life achievement. The people whom I meet and bless, the real-life lessons that I learn outside of the classroom. I want to put my first priority on becoming not the best student, but the best person.

I’m still learning to be a good person. I guess attending Life University isn’t just a four-year course, it’s a lifelong course.

Sorry for the long-windedness again. But I just had to write this down before I forgot again, and I wanted to share these thoughts with anyone who can understand.

Anyway, I have yet another kabocha recipe for you today! Here’s something about kabocha you ought to know: Whenever I buy kabocha, I get two types. When roasted, one is really moist and mushy with soft skin, just like pureed pumpkin. The other is really dry and firm like baking potatoes with a thick, hard skin. (Maggie, did you ever experience these differences?)

This time round, I got the dry kind, which is perfect for dicing and stir-frying because of it holds its shape well after being baked. So, stir-fry it was!

Kabocha-Lentil Stir-fry with Goat Cheese and Sun-dried Tomatoes

1/4 cup black lentils, uncooked
2 sundried-tomatoes, chopped
1-2 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
1-2 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, diced
1/4 orange bell pepper, diced
1 cup baked kabocha, diced
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped green onion
handful crumbled goat’s cheese
spoonful of Parmesan cheese

Cook the lentils with about 3/4 cup water with the sundried-tomatoes.
Meanwhile, mix together the balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and lemon juice. Set aside.
Once the lentils are cooked, heat up another pan and cook the garlic, onion, and bell pepper until soft.
Toss in the kabocha, stir-fry until heated through. Add in the cooked lentils with the sundried tomatoes and the vinegar mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Stir in green onion at the very end, remove from heat. Dish it up into a bowl, go crazy with the cheeses.

What a lovely bowl!

The acidity of the vinegar and lemon juice contrasted really well with the sweetness of the kabocha and maple syrup.

I loved how the sundried-tomatoes infused its deep flavor into the lentils. No other seasoning other than salt and pepper needed!

How can
you say no to this? It has cheese and kabocha in it!

And I can just sit here singing odes to the wonderful kabocha and goat cheese all day. Tra la la~

Question of the day: What, in your opinion, forms the best person you can be?