Personal Perspective: Mahan Chitgari

I have always prided myself on not caring about what others think of me, and that is probably the one thing that has stayed consistent throughout the last four years.

Almost everything else has changed, and now, as I am about to make the biggest change yet — graduation — I am truly appreciating how much I have grown. I will be the first to say that I am a dramatic and indecisive person, and I used to see those things as barriers to my reaching my full potential. However, I have learned to appreciate everything about myself. My actions, my words and my decisions are just that: mine. No one else will make the same choices as me and no one else should ever control the choices I make. I cannot control that Harry Styles dated Taylor Swift, but I can control how long I study or do not study for my AP Economics test.

I decided this New Year’s that I am ready to change. I am ready to make the changes that I have always wanted to make. Although I laugh at all the hype around the “new year, new me” phrase, I came up with a motto for 2014: fabulous, yet badass. I say it everyday and anyone who talks to me knows about it. The best way I can explain what that phrase means to me is that I promised myself I will wake up early enough every morning to pick out a good outfit. I completely realize how superficial and shallow that sounds, but I am hoping someone will connect with me about the feeling you get when you wear an outfit, and you just know that you have the right to feel confident. This confidence has always been something I have struggled with. I have learned that it does not come hand-in-hand with not caring about what others think of you. It is more about how you think of yourself.

I have good feelings about 2014. I think it has positive things in store. I do not expect the year to go perfectly — after all, I am going to be a college freshman — but I am actually excited to face some unexpected and difficult challenges because it will be the first time I will be completely self-reliant. It will be the first time that I cannot ask my mom to fix something. I almost care about her opinion more than my own, and she knows it, so that is going to have to change pretty soon.

Within the last four months, I have had two opportunities to reflect on who I am and where I am going. The first time was during American New Year’s and the second was last week during the Iranian New Year. “Norooz” always falls on the first day of spring, and the 13-day celebration has consistently provided me with a new outlook on how I want to spend the remaining months of the year.

I also feel like I cannot reflect on the last four years if I do not mention the elephant in the room. One Direction has been a very significant part of my high school experience, and for most of 10th grade and all of 11th, it was essentially the most important thing to me. I completely realize how juvenile it sounds to people when I tell them that I like —love — One Direction, but what people will never understand is the sense of security it gave me throughout high school. It was always there. Whether my friends were on vacation, I was mad at my parents or I just did not want to talk to anyone, I always knew that I could listen to a cheesy British boy band and everything would be OK, even if just for three minutes.

I never thought that I would be over One Direction and the entire “fangirl” lifestyle — and a lifestyle is exactly what it is — but, as clichéd as it sounds, I actually think I am growing out of it as I get older, and it has a lot to do with my newfound independence. I have passed the point in my life where I need to rely on something or someone else to make me happy because that will ultimately set me up for disappointment. I find it much more fulfilling to believe in myself and support the decisions that I think will eventually be the right ones for me.

I have dreams, goals, passions, and at the end of the day, I want to accomplish those things, just like everyone else. But until I accomplish everything I want, all I can ask of myself is to be fabulous, yet badass, and do what makes me happy. That is the most important thing I have learned in the last four years, a lesson I will take with me to college.