The Waves of 2018

I’ve always viewed life as an expansive ocean—an endless blue canvas suffused with awe and mystery, with intrigue and uncertainty, with stillness and movement, with possibility and opportunity to explore all that lies within. Like the ocean, life is full of both beauty and wonder, but it is not without its waves—those cyclical highs and lows with currents that inevitably influence our direction no matter how much we may want to be in complete control of our paths. In life, highs cannot exist without lows just as we cannot know what happiness feels like without having felt sadness; just as we cannot truly appreciate presence without having felt absence; and just as waves cannot rise without subsequently crashing. However, in the end, even though life can be rough and choppy, it is fundamentally beautiful in its layered, deep complexity. The trick towards navigating through life is not to avoid the waves and the concomitant lows, but to learn how to surf on them. And the way to “surf” on the waves is to accept that we cannot fully control the tide, to accept that failure is an unavoidable and essential component of the journey. And in order to successfully explore all that life has to offer, we must look deeper than the surface, for it’s far beneath where all the life forms and diversity and answers exist.

For me, as I look back upon the past year, 2018 was quite the series of waves, with many highs and if I’m being honest, probably just as many lows.


  • Graduating from high school as Valedictorian

  • Going on an unforgettable vacation with my best friends (#TurksNeverDies)

  • Starting my journey at Duke & meeting some amazing people

  • My sister also getting into Duke!!


  • Being rejected from many schools

  • Not being able to see my family and best friends everyday

  • Feeling lost at times (both socially and academically) during my first semester

  • Coming to terms with the fact that I may not be fully recovered

Clearly, 2018 was messy and unpredictable and tough, yet it was meaningful and eye-opening and beautiful at the same time. At the beginning of the year, I thought I had a clear vision of how the coming years would shape themselves—I thought I would go to a specific college, I thought I knew what I wanted to do in the future, and I thought I was completely 100% recovered from my eating disorder—but the currents of life moved me in some alternate direction. As John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” We cannot predict the future, and despite how hard we may try, the windy waters of life will not blow us linearly but in convoluted, twisting curves. In the end, I probably finished the year with more unanswered questions and fewer concrete answers than what I started out with. Yet, life’s uncertainty is the driving force that motivates us to continue to explore and venture into unexpected and unfamiliar places. So, although I may not be able to clearly see the horizon or control the currents, I am excited to dive even deeper in 2019—to find some answers and many more questions. For sometimes questions are more important than answers.

And in a peculiar sense, I am grateful for my lows, for each has lended me with a key piece of insight. I am grateful because being rejected from certain schools in a way also led me to Duke; I am grateful because the absence from my friends and family has made me realize just how appreciative I am of them and all that they do; I am grateful because even though I have felt lost at times this past semester, I have had friends to accompany me on my quest to rediscover myself; and I am grateful because my struggle with old disordered eating behaviors this past year has made me come to terms with the important realization that I don’t want to go through life giving recovery only half my effort. I don’t want to continue to hold on to a piece of my eating disorder as I swim through the ocean. Instead, I want to throw that piece far away into the vast expanse and let it sink so I can finally be truly free to explore the infinity that is life. For if we choose to look and push ourselves to new depths, there is so much wonder out there waiting to be found. So, 2019, I don’t know what you have in store for me, but I do know that without my eating disorder holding me back, I can surf on the waves, I can learn from the lows, I can appreciate the highs, and I can discover endless possibility.

Simran Bansal1 Comment