CT Journal: Write an essay in which you discuss several factors which affect your point of view.

I am who I am

There are many factors which that make who I am. One of the major characteristics of myself is my height. Japanese are genetically shorter than other ethnicities, and I happen to be shorter than the average Japanese. This makes me shorter than everybody! Because of this I have always been harassed and singled out because of my height disadvantage. I am unable to compete in sports which involved heavy physical contact simply because I'm too small. Basketball and football are examples of sports I loved; however,was unable to be competitive. Although I am unhappy with my height, I accept who I am.

This disadvantage drives me to be better than others in every field where height is not a major factor. I see the world differently form others. Not just that I'm lower to the ground and have to look up at everybody, but that I must prove myself as an equal, and greater. I will succeed where others will fail. I will succeed where it counts the most: school. Big things come in small packages, is what my father always says. This has forced me to concentrate on school. Do good in school, and I'll succeed in life.

One of the biggest events which changed me involve school. When transferring to Punahou from my public school in Mililani, I entered a whole new world. I entered a clean environment with many recourses, away from drugs and violence. With smarter people all around me, I began to adapt the more intense education. I made new friends and was exposed to a whole different lifestyle.

Education and environment weren't the only things that changed. I began to see the world in a whole new light. I was able to compare the Punahou with the "outside life." Not all people are as fortunate as I am. Therefore I appreciate my parents and their sacrifices they make for me everyday in order t>,support this life I'm living I also see what happens to people when money gets to their heads. Many people at Punahou think they're rich, smart, and believe their better than everybody else. They think they have it hard when teachers assign a lot of homework or when they get a bad score. I say they're spoiled brats. We're lucky to receive the homework. We're lucky to get the grades and live such a sheltered life.

There's a whole separate world outside of Punahou. The real world. One where people don't care who you are. Where teachers don't care what you do or what you get. Where life's not fair. l have lived through this, and l know that after Punahou, l will have to return to it. Therefore these experiences affect my decisions and my needs. I don't need a fancy car or an expensive CD player. I don't need to be state champion in wrestling or the smartest in the class. Why? Because millions of more people have it worse than me.

My father gives me a lot of advice. More importantly than grades, is heart. Many coaches have told me that I have a big heart. I play big, even though I'm undersized. I have learned to carry this into school and life. Everything I do, I do with all my heart. 120 percent, nothing less. I can't accept not trying. I can't accept not being number one. If you try your very best, good things will come. The grades will also come.

As I said earlier, I am short because I am Japanese. However I have a lot of Japanese pride. I am proud to be American, but I am also proud to be Japanese. This pride increased when I went to Japan and actually lived with a family for a short period of time. I experienced the life of a whole different culture. My great grand parents came to Hawaii as plantation workers. My family was poor, however to think that my family has come from the plantation to Punahou is a major achievement. I feel responsible to carry on this tradition and better it. `/ Because my family worked on plantations, I am still taught the values of trying your best and that everything you do must be respectful. Do not be wasteful and only take what you need. These were the laws of the land which my grandparents obeyed.

Many other factors play into who I am. I am learning and developing everyday, and will change my beliefs as I encounter hardships. Other characteristics which create me, are Christian beliefs, Buddhist beliefs and spiritual guidance. I am superstitious and outgoing with friends, although I'm shy around girls and strangers. The fact that I live in Hawaii, a melting pot of people and cultures plays a big factor. If I was born in New York, I would have a complete different view of the world. I am who I am, and do not wish to be anyone else.

What influences my POV? How I act or turned out to be today? Describe three things:

A positive experience that influenced my point of view towards elderly people all began when I was sitting on a bench outside an old library waiting for my mother to pick me up. I had nothing really to do but wait. So I did. Then came along an old Japanese lady who sat beside me. We struck up a conversation and I learned that she lived all alone. I asked her if she had any children and she nodded. All her children were married and living on the mainland so she never wanted to call them because it might "inconvenience" them. She told me that she often leaves her house and forgets where she is going. This worried and saddened me. This old lady had no one to take care of her or no one to look for her if she ever gets lost. After a long talk with her my mom arrived, but I felt hesitant to leave the woman all alone by herself. Nevertheless, I stood up and said goodbye. This experience influenced me a lot. It made me care more for my grandparents and elderly relatives. After my encounter with the old woman, I try to make it a habit to call my Popo, who lives all by herself, my grandpa, and my grandma whenever to check up on them. I realize now that when you get older, it can be very lonely. You feel like everyone is leaving you behind. I really enjoyed talking with the old woman at the bus stop. This and also my innate soft spot for elderly people in general, influenced made me think about volunteering this summer at a hospital in the geriatrics ward.

In addition to that one experience, a person that influences my point of view and as a result, my actions, is my mom. Whenever I discuss personal issues and even current events with my mom, she always helps to see the different sides of the issue. I often find myself standing by one belief without thinking to question the other beliefs out there. This is why talking with my mom a lot, encourages me to look at different points of view before making judgments. For example, during the aftermath of September eleventh, the media portrayed Osama bin Laden as pure "evil". However, mom made me realize there was a whole different side to the story. She explained to me where Osama bin Laden was coming from and what the U. S. has done to anger him. I am definitely grateful of mom because she has opened my eyes and helped me to become a more understanding person.

One thing that influenced how I turned out to be today was growing up as the youngest child of three. Ever since I can remember, I always relied on my sisters to speak for me, do things for me and to set an example for me. If someone would ask me a question, one of my sisters would be right there happy to answer. At family parties, I would never talk to anyone else but my sisters. I think this greatly affected the person I am today: quiet, reserved and passive. However, now that they both left for college, I am forced to make my own decisions. I have also found that I have become more sociable. Now, I don't seem to mind speaking to grownups, which I did in the past

That Which Shapes Who I Am

I found this exercise of identifying what has played a significant part in shaping me a very challenging one, mainly because I couldn't come up with anything that I consider had a profound effect on how I think or approach situations. Of course, there are the little things which affect who I am, like the people I talk with, who have an affect on the way I speak, and my being an only child, which I think is a reason for my ability to keep myself occupied However, even as I talked to my mom, I couldn't find any one relative, friend, teacher, class, or experience that has remarkably had an effect on who I am today. I came to conclusion that, instead it has mainly been my parents and teachers, especially my mom, tolerating and/or encouraging me to think things out and to come to my own conclusions.

From early elementary school days, when I was about seven, my parents tried to once in a while take time to play games like trumps, cribbage, backgammon, and chess with me. Playing these games helped to work on my reasoning skills as I learned how to weigh in probabilities and develop strategies. These games gave me an opportunity to analyze situations on my own, and come to my own conclusions as to what my next move should be. Because games like chess have little to do with luck, everything must be thought out and a piece should never be moved merely for the sake of moving it. Therefore, by playing these games, my craving for finding reasons for why things are or should be grew.

When I was in elementary school, my parents would hardly ever tell me, "Do your homework" or anything like that. I don't recall them ever nagging on me to do my homework as I went to elementary school, and they, for the most part, left it up to my own thinking process to decide how much I'd do and try in school. Because my parents didn't tell me, "This is what you have to do," and I acted based on my reasoning of situations, I think that whatever I did had more meaning for me than it may have otherwise had had-/For example, I didn't listen in class, because my mom told me to do so; I listened, because I first of all did not want to be sent to a corner, but also because I wanted to learn whatever the teacher had to teach. If I really wanted to listen, instead of listening to please someone, I'd probably listen much more carefully and truly try to understand what was being said, instead of listening to be polite.

Neither of my parents are incredibly religious. My father's supposedly a Christian, although I've never seen him ever go to church, except for weddings and funerals, and although my mother believes in a supreme being of some sort, she doesn't believe in any particular religion. Therefore, because I wasn't brought up practicing any particular religion, I don't have the need, that many people have, of defending a particular religion. Some people will defend their own religion to defend their dignity by demonstrating that they have always been right, while other people seem to, after knowing nothing but their religion for many years, unable to grasp the reasoning behind any contrary opinion. As I am growing older and learning more about different religions, I feel that I am fairly impartial as I judge and analyze different religions, because from a young age I had the opportunity to come to my own conclusions about religion without having any religion already pressed upon me.

Had my parents been not so willing to let me try and think things out to come to my own decisions, I don't think I'd be anyone close to the person I am now. Whenever we learn a formula in math, and our teachers don't teach us why the formula works, I get frustrated and feel like I have to find out, so I may look it up on my own. If I had not as a child always analyzed why things were and simply believed what people told me, perhaps I wouldn't have that urge to find an explanation.

What Has Affected Me

When I think of what has affected my life, my mind becomes a jumble of things. Everything from growing up experiences to interactions with friends, family members and teachers. I can think of many, many more things that affected my life than ten but I have chosen the top ten things.

What first comes to my mind when I think of being affected is my family. My family has been there for me in the long run. Being a independent child however, I have not always thought of my family in that manner. First of all, when I was three my parents got a divorce. I was too young to know the difference yet as I grew up I began to realize what an impact this would have on my life. I felt alone at times, and very afraid that I had done something wrong. It seemed my parents were mad at me, though I now know they were mad at each other. This splitting up formed me into a more independent person, always trying to please my parents. My dad was on drugs a lot and though he was a good father, he was quite forgetful. In this manner, I also learned to not have hard feelings or get angry since I found it did no good. My dad was the one however, who led me to Christianity, but I will talk about that later. My grandparents are very judgmental. They dislike everyone, even my other cousins, so I was always trying to be the one who could please them. I did please them through my efforts and got rewarded greatly for it. As I look back, I realize they made me strive to please not only them but everyone I meet. I look on that as being both positive and negative.

My friends have both helped me through hard times and gotten me into hard times. When I was younger I was diagnosed with severe Attention Deficit Disorder. My doctors, teachers and even psychologists recommended Ritalin but my mom insisted I overcome my disorder naturally. Because of this and my often times weird personality, it was hard to make friends in my younger years. I became a very independent person and I could keep myself entertained for as long as I needed. Around the time I hit the sixth grade, I found an intense desire for friendship. I got into the wrong crowd though and immediately gained their friendship. I began to smoke and even steal. A while after, I found a new group of friends who helped me overcome my desire to smoke and they pulled me out of a long time rut. By the time I hit the ninth grade, I had completely stopped smoking and had a fairly average GPA. My friends have helped me overcome a lot of difficulties in my life, including controlling myself. If it weren't for my friends, I would have been kicked out of Punahou and probably in Juvenile Detention today.

My conscience grows every day as does my religion. God has influenced my life greater than anything in this world. He has held me dear even when I cursed his name. As a young boy I split my time with my undecided parents and my father who was a preacher kicked out of the Southern Baptist Convention. He was still strongly religious though and was determined to make me a Christian boy. Believe me, I was as Christian of a boy as there ever was. I went to church and sunday school, said my prayers and read my devotionals every night. I got baptized at age eleven and thought I was doing good. I never really thought about God then. It was just something that went with life. You eat, sleep, watch T.V. and pray. Just an ordinary thing. So I didn't really know God when I needed to. But he still loved me. He knew me when times were tough and he gave me the strength to fight my urges and resist temptation. In my 15th year, I really started to get to know him. He has formed me into a goodhearted person with a aura that can't be darkened. I know now what true happiness is.

My values have been a roller coaster ride. I have gone from no values at all to more values than most. I hear a lot of people talk about Christian values but that isn't always true. I have known great Christian people to be jerks. I probably hold the value of kindness highest in my head. I try to be kind to everyone. There's is no single person that I spite. Even the meanest people I am not mean to. I think that being mean doesn't accomplish anything. Being nice to someone though, that can change everything. My values I believe come from a mix of my parents. Values are mainly something you learn while young. It's what my parents taught me at an early age that made the difference.

I have had many interesting experiences that have shaped my life more than words can explain. I have gone through my parents getting a divorce, my mother remarrying, my father getting fired from three jobs, finding out my father was gay, battling with a smoking addiction, being diagnosed with ADD, and being baptized. Every experience I have gone through has changed me in one way or another. Some experiences have lifted me up, some have crushed me and some I haven't thought about at all. Too many times in my life, I have turned away from an experience, hoping it would would never come up again. These experiences grow on me until I cannot take it anymore. I have some experiences that are still with me. I will never confront my father about being gay because it would create a tension greater than a wound up rubber band. Perhaps someday these experiences will all come out in a flow of emotions and I will go crazy but for now, they are bundled up inside me. Hopefully forever.

Perhaps I think about the future too much and perhaps I don't think about it enough. The future is something that I wish I could jump to right now and is also something I fear greatly. I lie awake for hours at a time thinking about the consequences of an action I have recently made or what will happen o me tomorrow or even ten years from now. In this sense, the future is horrible because I deathly fear it. I do however long fro the freedom of college and making my own choices. I hope I will someday have the beautiful wife, with the picket fence, and a doctor's degree in my hand. I do know however that the future is something that never turns out quite like you expect it so I just sit back and wait for it to come, trying to live for the moment. It is hard however, because the moment passes so slow. I have always thought time passed too slowly and have always wanted to hurry things up. As a kid, the future was always a good thing. I could look forward for things to come. As I get older, the future gets darker and darker. I am at the point now that I have no idea what the future will hold. I just hope it holds a pleasant surprise.

The media has influenced my life probably more than I will ever know. I'd like to think that I am unaffected by things I see or heat but I know that can't be true. The media affects what I wear, what I say, and how I act. My life is so infiltrated by the media that it is not noticed. I listen to the radio, watch T.V., go to movies, go on the Internet, and read magazines. The world could be blowing to pieces and I would not know until some reporter commented on it. Also something could happen thousands of miles away and I would know instantly. The media has affected mostly my knowledge. I know more things and general knowledge than could ever be possible thorough the media. I think to myself this is a good thing/but perhaps it is not so good. I think to myself that knowledge possibly isn't always power. Because of this, I try to keep separate what I know, and what I believe in.

I consider myself cultured, but doesn't everyone? I'm sure even Archie Bunker considered himself cultured. I try to accept everyone no matter how different they are. I have an array of cultures in my very own. In my immediate family I have Hawaiians, Chinese, Japanese, Haole and Native Americans. They have given me enough culture to last a lifetime. It has sometimes been hard however, to be cultured when some cultures are so incredibly different. It is only human nature to think of people who are different as odd or disturbing to look at or interact with. As much as I try I still feel slightly uncomfortable interacting with homosexuals. I know many, through my dad, but I always feel guilty about the feeling in my heart that makes me scared someone will see me. I hope I will become more cultured as I grow up and that I will learn to accept everyone as equals.

I am not a talented person. Well, perhaps I am. What I mean is that I do not have the talents I wish I had. I so much wish to be athletic and strong and charming. But nothing doing. Instead, I have the gifts of academics, singing and acting. For a long time in my life I have tried to deny my true talents and succeed at other skills. Through lots of hard work I have become slightly better than mediocre at almost every sport imaginable yet I could not excel at any one thing. The only thing I could ever really need at was school and singing. So as I grew up I began to sing more and more. Now I have finally found my talent I am grateful for it. It may not be what I wanted, but I thank God that I have a talent. I will continue to hone this talent until I am too old to sing and I will continue to use this talent in ways that will please others and I can use it for good.

My education has been more wonderful than I could ever expect. Going to Punahou since Kindergarten, I have been blessed with being fortunate enough to go to a wonderful school. The teachers at Punahou have been excellent and the facilities even better. I have however grown a competitive side that only Punahou can create. I compare myself with the best of students and strive to reach their level of academics. It is amazing to see how far behind I am from the smartest in my class and to see how ahead I am from the average student at a public school. I believe Punahou has given me a false sense of stupidity that is good as well as bad. I know that I am gifted compared to the average student yet I feel slightly behind compared to my friends making 3.9's and such. I will someday go off to college and meet competition of the real world. I am glad Punahou has readied me for it.