JadeBoyz: Senior Year
Their faces were like paintings, the emotions so vivid that I could almost taste them. I saw it in their eyes, the array and disarray of irritation, intrigue, and disbelief.
They were all listening intently, so still that you could see their diaphragms subconsciously sustaining their shocked consciousnesses.
I looked on my right, and I could see her trying to shroud her anger with indifference. It was the second time that I saw those soul-less eyes. But, there was no stopping me this time.
I looked down at my speech on the podium.
I took a deep breath.
This is a story of how I told everyone in my English class:
“Fuck your feelings.”
The Kid Before The Fall
Due to a series of petty events, I was slowly rejected from my friend group during my junior year of high school, and I lost my best friend that I practically grew up with.
I wasn’t exactly surprised because…I just wasn’t myself anymore.
Ever since I was a kid, I was known as a demon child. Apparently, my first grade teacher teacher warned my second grade teacher about me and so on. Everyone heard about me, knew about me, or was hit by me.
I was incredibly boisterous, obnoxious, insensible, and competitive. I could never sit still, and losing was never an option. The teachers would always write on my reports that I needed to learn self-control.
I was also somewhat of a rebel for absolutely no reason. Apparently after my dad hit me for breaking some windows with rocks, this is what I told him:
“No matter how much you hit me. You can’t change me.”
I was 6.
I think I would have given my younger self a 720 spinning roundhouse kick.
But, I couldn’t help myself. I always imagined that I was some kind of superior space being. In pre-school, I was a power ranger that needed to protect earth against over-sized monsters. In elementary school, I was a super Saiyan.
I still remember when a panting student was telling on me with the utmost urgency:
“Mr. B!!! Chang, won’t stop Kamehama-ing me!”.
“Justin, what in the world is a kame-hat?!”.
But, I was also somewhat gregarious. (I specifically chose this word because an honest professor told me I was NOT gregarious and would therefore have trouble fitting in. This deserves its own story time…probably.)
If I ever saw that a kid was alone, I always went over there. Quiet people intrigued me. I just never understood them. I literally jumped out of bed every morning and felt like I was on top of the world. And being a stupid child, I couldn’t understand why everyone didn’t feel the same way.
“Hi, I’m Chang. What are you?”.
(I didn’t know it was more proper to ask, “What is your name?”.)
Looking down at the wood chips, he said, “I-I’m Jacob.”
“Stop being a crispy butt-hole and play tag with me.”
You could imagine that I never actually had many friends. I was too stupid to realize it. But, some people did accept me for the way I was. Maybe, it was because we just grew up together: The Church Five and the Melrose Crew.
Too much crap also happened, so I’ll fast forward. Queue fast forward sound.
After middle school, I switched districts to a new high school. I was kind of excited actually. A special friend from the Melrose Crew happened to go to this school too.
He was the same, but I wasn’t.
If only I realized that he wasn’t exactly the same either…
Worst of all, I was jaded.
It was difficult for me to learn that I was just a regular person just like everybody else. I tried to compensate for my incompetence by just doing everything I could think of. And, you could see that with all the fucking bags I carried to school.
My book-bag, track-bag, and violin-bag. (Okay, it’s violin case. But, just forgive my need for form.)
When you try to do everything at once, what you end up really doing is nothing at once. And that’s what happened.
Coach was on the verge of kicking me off the team because I wasn’t hitting my times from lack of sleep. I still remember when he yelled at me in front of the girls’ track team.
“If you don’t run this 400 like you mean it, you’re off the team.”
I ran my ass off that day. It was just a regular tempo run, but it felt like my muscles were made of acupuncture needles.
But, I felt really bad. I remember him telling me this in freshman year:
“One day, you’re gonna be good.”
So after failing everything imaginable, I had a Denzel Washington moment.
Previously, I mentioned a Denzel Washington moment to describe the moment when one chooses to no longer continue with bullshit.
So yeah, after my junior year, I had a Denzel Washington moment. I was going to quit all of my clubs.
My one true focus now?
Imma get fucking SWWWOOOLLLLE BABBYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Okay. I wasn’t that hype. But, I went pretty hard.
I mean — I had to. I was eating 5–7 McDoubles every other day. It didn’t help that McDonald’s was literally a 15 second sprint from the gym. It also didn’t help that they costed a fricken’ dollar.
I mean, why get the fricken’ single patty ones for a dollar when you can get the double ones for the same damn price?!?
Someone fucked up in management.
Anyway, it was Gains City.
I was being a sponge again. I was reading everything about training methodologies, learning new exercises everyday, and watching a disgusting amount of strength and fitness videos. (The only thing I wasn’t reading was stuff on nutrition. Better late than never!)
And, I have to tell you. It was so fucking fun. I love learning. I love to go after something with all that I have. I was finding new things every day, and I was making insane gains.
And somehow, I had this inner sense that this discipline of training regularly could be applied to virtually anything in your life.
Consistency. Little by little everyday. Eat right. (Okay, I fucked up here.)
Somewhere along the line, I wanted to share this experience with others. At the end of that glorious summer, I told myself that I was going to create a lifting club.
I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing.
The Perfect Triangulation
So, I gathered up a bunch of dudes. About 5 guys.
It was the first day of classes, and I vividly remember walking into Physics with a cartoon Batman shirt on.
This is literally how I went up to people.
“Yo, Andy. I’m trying to make a lifting club. You want to join”.
But, there were two guys that would forever be special. We are the corners of a triangle, after all.
The other three guys, however, never really came to lift. They were too busy with stuff. =(
I had this grand plan and all too. I even had — deep breath — a vision of this beautiful thing called personal development. I just wanted everyone to know that they have the capacity to improve themselves. I wanted people to know that they were stronger than what they believed.
If a piece of shit like me can improve, so can you. You’re inherently important. You’re amazing. You matter.
And like that, I held people to incredible standards because I began to see greatness in everybody. It just needed to be developed. It didn’t have to be lifting. It could be anything. I wanted people to find their own art with personal development.
But those were just thoughts. The me then and the current me now isn’t even close to attaining that level.
Anyway, what really ended up happening was that I made two best brothers. The timing of the triangulation was practically perfect.
Now, I first met Chris during sophomore year in English class. The class was memorable because the teacher had the biggest, most perpendicular butt I had ever seen.
And, I first met Adam during homeroom, but his first impression of me was pretty bad. It was during pre-calculus, and he was sitting in front of me:
“Dude, can you move your head? I can’t see the board.”
We’ve met earlier, but it wasn’t like senior year. These two continued to stay with me and lift — my only true brothers in the whole district. And we’d go over Adam’s house so many times that his mom is now our second mom.
We learned that we had more things in common than we thought. We were JadeBoyz — saltmates if you will.
But other than hating similar things, we also laughed at the same things. There was this damn physics problem that we couldn’t stop laughing at. We had to calculate the area under the curve, but it was impossible because the lines of the graph were so crooked.
I’ve never laughed that much in my entire life. My face wasn’t used to it either, and it started to cramp.
I realized I hadn’t really laughed in years.
Sometimes, I think about going back in time to fix everything, all the bad things that happened before this friendship.
But, then I realized that I would lose this one. It wouldn’t be the same.
So, I’m just going to have to reserve the time machine for last night to win the Powerball Jackpot on my 21st birthday.
Oh yeah, I was supposed to explain the whole fuck your feelings thing I mentioned in the beginning.
I can’t believe I wrote this much. Kudos to whoever gets to the bottom of this without just scrolling straight down. I know. It’s probably karma for all the times I did it to bypass the Terms & Conditions crap.
Anyway, there was a speech we all had to prepare called This I believe.
It was the end of senior year, the end of high school. It was the end of the grade school system. It was the end of all the bullshit.
So I took my opportunity to make this my last hurrah — to unleash all of my jade energy in one go.
Well, at least not yet.
The first punch in my One-Two wasn’t even intentional. I didn’t know that I was going to be notorious for what I did.
It was supposed to be a sincere essay that was at least 300 words long, and we would post it on an online forum for everyone to read. At the end, the teacher planned on making a collection of these essays.
I was sincere, but I wrote 12 words.
I believe that life should be simple and direct. This I believe.
People went nuts.
Well, I guess the truth would be that it just entertained their interests for a bit. Some people liked it, and some people hated it.
But, my English teacher went nuts. She thought I started some kind of personal agenda against her. This wasn’t true at all.
My jaded powers were after something larger— the school system. It was a soul-sucking institution that failed to inspire people to become their greatest selves. Education is sacred. It can really change people’s lives.
It’s not just a fucking job.
During class, she decided to talk to me in the corner of the room. We were sitting side-by-side against the wall. The conversation started calmly, although, there was an obvious tension. Everyone knew about the incident, and it was obvious that they were eavesdropping on the conversation, acting like they were doing something else.
But, I couldn’t help myself from being caustic to her. It was never about her, but it was almost as if she wanted it to be about her. Seeing someone so weak…I should have lied. I should have backed off. But, I didn’t.
I noticed irritation and then aggression in her tone. The conversation began to grow more personal.
“Why did you even take this class?”.
“I took it because I heard it was easier than the honors class.”
She ignored what I said.
“…This is unacceptable for the community.”
(And I just couldn’t take it anymore.)
“What community? There is no community here. It’s all a lie. Nobody even likes your class. They’re just taking your AP class for college. No one even reads the books. They all sparknote it right before class.”
And, then she freaked.
“HOW DO YOU THINK THAT MAKES ME FEEL?!”.
She literally stood herself up and began reprimanding me in front the whole class while I stood still in my seat. Okay. Reprimanding was putting it nicely.
She cursed me out. Loudly. It was so loud that her husband, who was also a teacher, walked in the room. When he saw that I was siting down, he just left. I’m still not sure what was going on in his mind then.
Anyway, she went on a long ass tirade with F-bombs dropping, saying how cold I was. She was telling me how I was going down a wrong path and all that. It was literally Dresden.
It was then that I saw that teachers were human too. I really saw it. And looking back, I realized we wanted the same thing out of ourselves and the system.
And, it was weird. I just sat there, while she just pointed and yelled at me. The bell rang, and I just left.
But, my heart was doing windmills.
The next day, she wanted to talk with me again. This time, it was in the hallway. Better.
Apparently, she arranged that I could sit in a different class if I didn’t like this one. I wanted to tell her that I’m obligated to come to her class. I wanted to tell her that what she was doing was childish. But, I didn’t.
I apologized and said that I was going to re-write the essay.
But, here comes the Two in the One-Two punch.
I wrote this essay exactly the way I wanted to. I went unchecked.
I wrote about how finding lifting changed my life. I wrote about how every human person has the capacity to change and become better than they are now.
And I told that sometimes, you have to unleash your inner Denzel Washington. I said that sometimes you have to push forward no matter how bad things feel, no matter how much pain there is. It’s a necessity, and you shouldn’t let petty feelings to be a hindrance to your overall development.
So I looked down at my speech on the podium.
I took a deep breath.
The line was right there.
I shouted so they could all hear me. I shouted so they could hear me when they slept that night.
FUCK YOUR FEELINGS.
Now, that wasn’t the last thing I said. I tidied up the rest of the speech with some morsels of self-learning and all. But, nobody really paid any more attention to what I said afterward.
A week later, I got my speech returned.
Graded with comments.
“F. EPIC FAIL.”