‘Nonanswers’: What query are you most afraid to reply?

Impressed by the questions we ask in every day dialog however by no means discover a glad conclusion for, Nonanswers explores the emotions, confusions and tribulations of Stanford college students. Each essay on this column will likely be centered round a well timed query, and will likely be structured round private experiences, conversations and tales from my time on campus. Be happy to submit a query for me to dissect, or ship me a solution (or nonanswer) for one which I ask.

The theme of this column is questions: ones that lack a satisfying reply, that make you suppose, and that I’ve spent a very long time enthusiastic about. It’s generally arduous for me to consider a becoming query to give attention to. I need it to be well timed and relatable, one thing that Stanford college students will need to examine and discover. Throughout weeks like this one, when I’ve three unstarted p-sets due, a midterm I haven’t studied for, and completely zero work ethic left, inspiration is difficult to seek out. I pull up the questions from the sport We’re Not Actually Strangers, as a result of one in every of my objectives for this column is to make campus really feel smaller and remind those that they’re not alone. Nonetheless, nothing is placing a nerve. Then, paradoxically, I land on a success:

What query are you most afraid to reply?

I used to have a number of these. In elementary college, I used to be consistently frightened that I might be requested to current in entrance of the category or share my reply out loud — I used to be afraid to reply any query in any respect. I wasn’t shy with my pals, however being the focal point terrified me, and I stored myself small out of the worry of being known as on and answering improper. I believe I’ve outgrown that worry, as a result of someplace alongside the way in which I spotted that oftentimes, I’m not improper. Even when I’m, sharing a solution may be gratifying, particularly when it results in new conversations and deeper insights.

In center college, I used to be most afraid to reply questions on my identification. What sort of meals do you eat at house? Are you able to converse Chinese language? Why does your dad sound like that? I got here from a faculty district that was two % Asian, so I typically discovered it a blurry line, whether or not my friends had been genuinely curious and simply ignorant, or being merciless on function. I may deal with being requested to substantiate or deny frequent stereotypes; regardless that I shouldn’t have needed to be the spokesperson for all Asian individuals ever, and regardless that I dreaded being turned to for that function, it didn’t really feel like a private assault. 

The questions that basically scared me, those that left me upset for the remainder of the day, had been those about my household. When individuals would ask about my mother and pa, urgent me about whether or not they had been “strict tiger mother and father” or the place their accents had been from, I might instinctively shrink. My physique would go into defensive mode: I might vehemently deny any cultural variations. Considering again on it, all the questions I acquired had easy solutions, however they had been arduous to seek for, as a result of I didn’t need to face them.

Fortunately, I’ve outgrown this worry too. I’m happy with my household and glad to share about my heritage. Being at Stanford and surrounded by many different Asian People, I additionally don’t get these questions anymore. After I take into consideration myself now and the solutions I’m scared to confront, the worry that I cope with is each the identical and totally different.

It’s nonetheless the worry of being checked out with a humorous face, of feeling small and dropping my spot of comfortability inside a gaggle. After I was first assembly different freshmen at NSO, small speak was straightforward, and I knew individuals would overlook my title, hometown and main as quickly as they moved to somebody new. However because the 12 months progressed and our conversations within the dorm hallways prolonged later and later into the night time, my pals and I’ve more and more discovered ourselves within the hazard zone of question-asking: If I reply actually and present this a part of me, you’ll bear in mind it eternally. 

Private experiences. Opinions of polarizing points. Insecurities and deepest secrets and techniques. A variety of questions invite vulnerability, and it’s not all the time straightforward to belief individuals with fragile items of your self. It’s arduous to ask that of somebody and even scarier to reply. However, if you get to know individuals like that, and if you belief that your trustworthy reply received’t spoil your reference to them, I believe these questions are essentially the most rewarding to take an opportunity on.


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