In the beginning, I was the golden girl.
I received the highest university scholarship; I was the ace student who won academic awards year after year; I knew all of my professors personally and every one of them knew me; I volunteered at multiple hospitals and organized charity events; I went to the gym regularly and competed in track-and-field; I cooked every day; I stayed in on Friday nights; I was never drunk or hungover… I was a workhorse who played by the rules and always strived to do the right thing.
Family acquaintances praised my so-called “discipline” at holiday gatherings and then prodded their kids to follow my example. Just like any good girl, I’d flash a bashful smile, say thank you, and dutifully sip on sparkling water.
Checking off every item on the list for success made me believe I was on the right path. I thought I was principled and ambitious. I truly saw myself as an upstanding person, smoothly sailing along the correct course of life—correct, based on a framework defined by parents, mentors, and society.
Until that fall, I lived life from a pedestal—in other words, like a snob. I looked down at underachievers from the tip of my nose, unable to understand how anyone could wake up not trying their hardest to succeed. Couldn’t these people see everything that was wrong with them?
Then I turned twenty-one. With fall’s arrival came my final year in university. As the cold slowly set in, something sinister started to stir with the chill that came with the change of season—a season where all fell down.