What Matters?

By Emma Yang

“Why did you say that?” Every day, we are being challenged and questioned and are questioning ourselves. Whether it’s about the answer to a question in class or what you just ate, at some point in the day, someone will inevitably come up and comment on something you’ve done, remarking that it was a terrible decision or asking you why you did it. And that’s when you get thrown into a loop of confusion. “Indeed, why did I do that?” you ask yourself.

Next, as try to finish that page of English reading with vocabulary so hard it might as well be an alien language, your mind wanders, and you begin to think of all the other ways you could have handled a situation. Then you start regretting everything you had done that day, or you drive yourself crazy over the fact that you forgot to give your friend that extra penny a month ago. By that point, you realize you’ve forgotten the entire page of reading and need to start over.

After you are finally able to redo that page, you sit down next to your friend only to start ranting about how the world is going to end because you had a cheese sandwich instead of a ham sandwich—all to the bewilderment of your friend and everyone within earshot, which is the entire room. After you finish ranting, you realize there was no point in doing that, and you start regretting what you did just now on top of all the other things you are already regretting. And this is when your friend tells you that you are making a really big deal about things you should’ve forgotten by now.

Among all these questions, answers, and mental wanderings, you try to think of what actually was good that day. Not much. You give up and decide to just forget about it.

Three classes later, you realize, “What matters? Is all of this important? Did space and time actually get distorted because I decided to say something different from what others said in class, or did it only mean I was thinking differently?” Then you decide that you were being yourself. That the way you saw things defined who you were and differentiated you from the seven billion other people on Earth.

The voices in your head telling you what you thought allowed your thoughts to be deeper, more sophisticated. Those voices let you think as yourself. They blocked out the outside voices, making sure they didn’t drown out your true self inside. It didn’t matter if the person sitting next to you thought that the class had the worst math teacher ever. You thought she was an amazing teacher, and you stood out because of your opinion. Introversion helped bring out the real you, the best of you, because when the voices in your head came out, the product was all of them coming together to make a universal shout—the epiphany of all the minds of those voices. And that was what really mattered.