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October 29, 2014 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2014-10-29

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WenedyOtoer2, 04 / h Saemn

Personal Statement: My favorite word
by Mayank Mathur

ann arbor affairs: second time's the charm

The first time a boy
ever seriously told me
he loved me, it was
January of my fresh-
man year and I was sitting in my
dorm room in Alice Lloyd. We
were not dating at the time, so
you can see how this would come
as quite a shock.
I do not believe in love at first
sight, but I do believe in fate at
first site, and that was what
happened with this boy at a
party during syllabus week my
freshman year. He was blackout
drunk and, admittedly, not the
most attractive person I'd ever
seen, but I was somehow drawn
to him. I knew this would be
We started hanging out a
couple days a week, and eventu-
ally it grew into a relationship.
We were official for about three
days before he broke it off. This
was directly after Fall Break.
A few days later, he begged for
me back, and I accepted (stu-
pidly). We were engaged in an
emotionally volatile relation-
ship until after Christmas, upon
which time he broke up with me
(again). Here is where we find
ourselves rather confused on
Observatory Street.
After much deliberation, I
reluctantly agreed to get back
together with him (AGAIN),
because I would never be able to
forgive myself if I didn't at least

see what a relation-
ship would be like
with a boy who
loved me.
He broke up with
me in April.
This boy grew up
in an upper-mid-
dle class suburb of
Detroit, with two
loving parents and
two siblings with
whom he was very
close. He lived a
fairly normal child-
hood. In my head, I
compared this with
my own childhood:
dealing with an abu-
sive father, conse-
quently being raised
by a single mom and constantly
moving to new cities depend-
ing on who my mother or father
married. I didn't understand
how I could still believe in love
at all; but, even more than that,
I didn't understand how the boy
was the one who couldn't handle
a serious relationship out of the
two of us.
The second time a boy ever
seriously told me he loved me
was Welcome Week this - my
junior - year, in the bathroom
of a house I was living on the
couch of. He also didn't realize
he had said it. You can see how
this would also come as quite a
This boy and I also experi-
enced some kind of fate
at first sight, when I met
him sophomore year
right before Thanks-
giving, after being
invited to his apart-
ment to play a drunken
round of Cards Against
Humanity by a mutual
friend. We became
friends quickly, texting
around the clock and
seeing each other quite
often, and at the start
of winter semester, we
made our relationship
In August I told him
I loved him.
He didn't say it
back, but I didn't say
it to hear it back - to




be validated. I said it simply
because I wanted him to know
that someone loved him, want-
ed him to know that I would be
there no matter what. He didn't
say it back, but he also didn't run,
and that was all that mattered to
me. We.had a conversation about
it, and he said he just wasn't
ready, so I waited.
This boy grew up not hav-
ing much money in Illinois. His
parents had him while they were
still in high school. He has to pay
for his own out-of-state tuition.
I always thought I wanted
to date someone "normal" -
someone who grew up with the
kind of childhood I want for my
kids: pleasant, normal, with a
loving family in one place, but
it is through these relation-
ships that I realized it is often
the most "normal" people who
are the most unstable. Without
the hardships of childhood, you
don't know how to deal with the
hardships adulthood brings. I've
realized it's not the normality I
want for my children, but the
love that is so often associated
with it.
This boy and I have now
become that couple in some
respects: on a recent grocery
shopping trip, we both unknow-
ingly bought a bag of Swedish
Fish for the other. As he hugged
me in the aisle, I thought to
myself how lucky I was to be
loved by someone "abnormal;"
how delicious it truly is.

at is your favorite
This is one of the
many questions that James Lip-
ton asks his guests on "Inside the
Actors Studio" as part of a stan-
dard questionnaire at the end of
the show. After years of being a film
and television enthusiast, I've got-
ten into the habit of trying to put
myself in the shoes of an interview-
ee. Whenever I watch an interview
with an actor or another famous
personality, I always end up try-
ing to answer the questions they're
posed, regardless of the level of my
knowledge on the subject being dis-
cussed. What's interesting is that I
usually change my answers for all
questions when I watch a new epi-
sode of "Inside the Actors Studio,"
except for the one I just mentioned.
I love the word "creative." I love
the crisp sound of the first syl-
lable and how it seems to mellow
down, almost wandering away into
ambiguity by the time you finish
saying it. It's a small word, which
is good because I'm not particu-
larly fond of long, overly intelligent
sounding words. Using them usu-
ally indicates an overzealousness to
See what I mean?
It's absurd that I feel a little
proud every time I reaffirm my
choice while watching the show.
What's even more curious is that,

until recently, this seemingly base-
less sense of pride had always been
accompanied by some confusion.
What does "creative" even mean?
And why is it my favorite word?
Most of the time, I find it diffi-
cult to explain the meaning behind
words. I may know how to use a
word and what it means in differ-
ent contexts, but if you were to ask
me to define the word as a diction-
ary would, I'd be stumped. It's
because I tend to feel out words and
languages, rather than understand
them from a literary point of view.
However, the fact that I couldn't
come close to defining my favorite
word troubled me. The dozens of
lectures I watched on creativity, the
hours I pondered over the concept
- all these were futile attempts.
Eventually, I got so sick of the ques-
tion of how to define creativity that
I stopped thinking about it. I told
myself to stop wasting time with a
word and move on by wasting time
with something else that was rela-
tively more productive. A favorite
word is a pretty stupid and useless
thing to worry about, anyway.
During the summer, I interned at
Ogilvy and Mather, a global adver-
tising agency in Delhi, India. Itwas
in the second half of my intern-
ship as a copywriter in the creative
department where I found the
answer to my initial questions.
I believe that creativity is the

ability to see, perceive and experi-
ence internal, sometimes ineffable
thoughts and emotions and trans-
form them into a tangible form.
For example: I might be walking
towards class, and out of nowhere,
an idea for a short story might hit
me. Surely, that doesn't happen
to everyone and it is, as far as I'm
concerned, the first sign of beinga
creative person. The second, more
crucial aspect of creativity is act-
ing upon such incidents by pro-
ducing something that represents
the epiphany you just had. This is
why artists paint and draw, writ-
ers write and musicians write and
sing - all these art forms are sim-
ply different manifestations of that
mysterious internal processingthat
allows them to seethings in their
mind's eye and feel things in their
hearts. Creativity is a culmination
of two things - the skill of getting
to an idea without a process and
the skill of giving a tangible form to
that idea.
The first part of my dilemma
was solved, but I still didn't know
why I considered creativity such
an important trait. Eventually, I
discovered that our personalities
aren't always composed of inher-
ent traits; sometimes, it's the things
that you value the most that come
to be a defining part of you. Not
all personality traits are innate.
For example, you don't have to be

born with an inherent talent for a
particular sport. But if you grow
up watching a sport, believing that
it is important to you, it's likely
that you'll derive a major part of
your personality from the values it
teaches you, even if you don't excel
in it.
I had realized that I was attached
to the word because I valued it. But
why did I value it?
It was the fifth grade and I had
just been handed my score for a
writing assessment in my English
class. It was a letter-writing test
and the letter was graded on a scale
of one to ten. I was the last person
to receive my score and I couldn't
believe it when I saw it. I had been
graded a 9.5/10. I was absolutely
ecstatic. We were always told in
school that attaining a perfect score
in any English assignment was
impossible, because "there's always
room to improve what you're say-
ing." The highest anyone could get
in any English writing assignment
was a point below the upper limit of
the scale. The fact that I had been
awarded an extra half point meant
so much to me and I can remember
feeling proud of it even a few weeks
after the scores had been given out.
In fact, I'm still a little proud of it.
I admit that's a little sad but I can't
help it if I'm still a fat nine-year-old
boy inside, can I?
The point is, that was the first

time I felt that I was genuinely
good at something. I had beaten the
smartest kid in the class and I was
on top of the world. My teacher told
me that I'd been given half a point
extra, because the letter "was cre-
atively written." That particular
feeling of discovering I was good at
something has stayed with me ever
Yet, despite how important that
feeling was to me, the truth is -
I've never experienced it again
after that day. Why? Because I
don't do many things that I feel I'm
genuinely good at. Also - I rarely
write. Ideas tend to hit me all the
time, on the bus, while walking to
class, while showering and even
when I'm a party when really all I
should be thinking about is down-
ing my drink. But, I just cannot
bring myself to write. Is it because
I think that everything I write will
turn out to be pathetic drivel and
I'll have to come to terms with the
fact that the fifth grade letter was
exactly that - a fifth grade writing
assignment and nothing more? Or
is it just pure laziness?
While attempting to write this
piece, at three in the morning, I
watched an episode of "Inside the
Actors Studio," and it all came back
to me. How a seemingly insignifi-
cant word and a juvenile feeling of
pride meant more to me than I real-

V V /I N IVIU' ' Hi Iv' i rl10'Ao u/AILT' . - - IV
T H E statement
Magazine Editor: Photo Editor: Managing Editor:
Carlina Duan Ruby Wallau Katie Burke
Deputy Editors: Illustrator: Copy Editors:

Max Radwin Megan Mulholland
Amrutha Sivakumar Editor in Chief:
Design Editor: Peter Shahin
Amy Mackens

Mark Ossolinski
Meaghan Thompson

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