110 does not exist

There is No Such Thing as 110%, Trust Me

It's a lesson I learned four years ago that I still think about to this day.


Have you ever heard the phrase, "give it 110%"? I have and I lived by this motto. I never felt satisfied with anything I did, unless I did more than what was expected of me. I could not do what was considered average or mediocre. I needed to push myself beyond expectations. In fact, at my seventh-grade award ceremony, I won the 110% award for always going above and beyond. And while pushing yourself to do more is great, living an 110% mindset is detrimental to yourself and your peers. In 2014, I abandoned 110% thinking thanks to a marching band practice.

It was late October and man named Mr. C changed my outlook forever. He told us that 110% is IMPOSSIBLE. 110% is flawed. 110% does more bad than good. 110% ruins the group. There can only be 100% from each individual.

At this point, I was thinking, "Wait a minute," but I listened closer and gained two new perspectives.

The first perspective of "110%" causes two issues. If I were to give 110%, I am doing more than I am capable of. This means I am not providing myself or the team quality products, rather I am trying to do more, because I think that is what is needed of me. But on the flip side, I am also robbing my peers from their opportunity to give their best effort. If I am attempting to out-do or over-step, then I am selfish. I am taking away their chance at success and inhibiting them from growing.

From a band perspective, Mr. C explained it as this,"if you try to outplay or play beyond your ability, you are not doing yourself or the group any favors". And if you are doing that, your teammates see that they do not need to work hard, because you are going to 'cover' for them. And I know I have that before. If someone outplays me, why not ride of the wave of their success and just hide in the background? It makes my life easier.

But, I have also been the one to give 110%. I have done the work for others, accomplished tasks by myself, and basically relied on only me to get the job done. And this is not because people did not want to help, it is because I would not let them.

The second perspective opened my eyes as much as the first. According to Mr. C, "everyone has a different 100%". *Jaw Drop* My 100% is different from yours, and yours is different from the guy next to you, and that is okay. In fact, that is amazing. Everyone and I mean everyone, is at different places in life, in abilities, in education, in work, etc. And that is what makes the world work. In every aspect of life, your 100% might mean giving more or less than your neighbors. This does not mean you are doing more and they are doing less, or visa-versa. Both are doing the task to the best of their ability, not to the best ability of those around them.

So, if you were to take anything away from the lesson I learned, it would be STOP COMPARING YOURSELF. You are you for a reason. Stop trying to be like everyone else. We want you for you, not because you are like your friends, parents, or peers. Whatever it means to be your best or give your all, do it! Know your 100% is yours and own it! Focus on your 100% and I guarantee, you will do amazing things.
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Friendship: From School To College

The only thing I know is that I don't know


In the first version of my common app essay I wrote about friendship. I started by describing this mural I have in my bedroom. It occupies about two walls and is as huge as you are probably picturing in your head. I have always been slightly entitled, and so at the time I really thought I understood what friendship was about. I had just had a massive fight with some people whom I used to consider very close friends, and I had proceeded to (very dramatically) take down some pictures from this mural. So the mural was incomplete, and I used this as a metaphor in an essay that if I had submitted it at the time, I probably wouldn't be writing this article for Odyssey at Emory because I wouldn't have gotten into college in the first place.

Thankfully, I decided against that essay and submitted a completely different version in December of 2016. The mural, however, continues to be incomplete. I have made peace with some of the people I had fought with back then, and have made new friends in college and matured quite a bit since that first draft of my common app essay. Now, I can more humbly say that I don't really know much about friendships, or people in general, despite pursuing a psychology major for the past two years. The mural is incomplete because of this lack of knowledge.

Something that I have learned though is that college friendships and school friendships are fundamentally different. I went to a small school from when I was six years old to the time I graduated. That is a whole lifetime seeing the same people every day, growing up with those people, a whole lifetime to understand the values and habits of those people. And even then they can surprise you. So how arrogant did I have to be to not expect any surprises from people I knew for only one year in college. It's true that it's a different way of knowing people, that living together away from home pulls people closer than in any other situation. But how well can you really know someone after one or two years?

Not well enough, is the only answer I have been able to come up with. There is a certain symmetry I think, of me writing a bad essay about my broken mural after having a fight with my friends in school, and now three years since then here I am, writing a more humble version of that essay about that same mural, which remains incomplete. But this time, the mural isn't incomplete because I am mad or hurt and don't want to look at certain faces. Its incomplete because I am not sure who I want to put up in the mural yet.

I have never liked the idea of family being your blood relatives, because there are many blood relatives that I don't like, and many people whom I am not related to by blood but am related to by heart. There are few certainties, and these are up in my mural. But as I mentioned before, it's a huge mural, and so there is still a lot of space left for more.

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