It’s 11:30 p.m. on the eve of Thanksgiving, and a realization hits me on my vacation back to my hometown in Southern California. Driving around, seeing long-lost friends and comparing the opportunities I’ve had in Cupertino to what I would’ve had there leads me to an important personal realization:
I love living in Cupertino’s “bubble.”
I am a relative outsider to MVHS. I moved to Cupertino from a small town called Ojai. People are different there — Trump has a strong base, big Ford trucks are the substitute for flashy BMW’s you see in Cupertino and people make a lot less money: the annual median household income in Cupertino is $134,872, while it is $60,714 in Ojai.
Yes, in Cupertino, we are affluent. Yes, we are privileged. Yes, we have opportunities that other kids don’t have. And so this is my question: Why do we complain about what we do have?
A lot of kids are afraid of being sheltered here. And that’s okay, because we are. But exactly what kind of shelter does this “bubble” encompass?
The experiences that kids face in Ojai are very different than those faced by kids here. I’d guess that most kids around here haven’t been thrown into trash cans nor beaten up in the middle of the track at Kennedy, but that was my reality in my hometown. Living in fear was the norm for kids: I kept my shield up as high as I possibly could, trying to deflect the countless instances of bullying I faced from others.
I’m not writing this for sympathy in any way, but rather for perspective. Do kids in Cupertino wish to have this reality? Does having a sheltered childhood really make you a more boring person because the world hasn’t thrown literal punches at you?
I wouldn’t say so. The friends I have here are much more genuine than the friends I had in my hometown (for the most part). I think people hold some kind of belief that they are “missing out” on the traditional high school experience by going to MVHS. Honestly, the struggles that kids face here are very similar to struggles kids face all over the world — in the end, while we do place a strong emphasis on academics, we also share many of the same, universal concerns that teenagers have. Insecurity, romance and gossip — these things all exist at MVHS, and exist almost everywhere else a group of adolescents are gathered.
But you say the academic environment is toxic here?
Yeah, it’s difficult to go to MVHS and be in such a competitive atmosphere, I’ll admit. The desire for academic success runs rampant, to the point where we lose perspective. Everybody is a competitor here, and while in other places it may be a rarity to have an entire room applying to UC Berkeley, nobody would even look twice at that here.
I question whether or not this is a bad thing. On the one hand, it is hard — especially when you feel like you aren’t “good enough” to go to this school. But on the other hand, I appreciate the general level of intellectual vitality that our campus has. At my old schools, I used to get picked on for getting good grades and “trying too hard.” The pressure here may very well push us to the edge at times, but this makes us better students, better learners and better prepared for the future.
“But kids here are lame; isn’t everyone, like, the same?”
This is the one blanket statement about the bubble that infuriates me the most. Although collectively we may all be immune to seeing it now, MVHS has given us so much opportunity to explore, to grow and to ultimately discover our identities — who we are and what is important to us.
It truly is rare to have a high school campus that is literally highly ranked at everything they do, but we are (with the exception of some sports). DECA, FBLA, Journalism, Yearbook, Robotics — most kids don’t have the chance to be in a place so distinguished in so many different areas.
We have this opportunity.
Not only do we have opportunities to do great things, but we also have opportunities to meet great people, do great work and attend a nationally ranked high school, all the while the majority of us not having to be limited by our socioeconomic status or the community we live in.
At the Thanksgiving table, I had a lot to be thankful for. The bubble, however, was what I thought about the most. I’ve progressed so much, both as a student and as a person at MVHS, and so have the people around me.
This is why I’m thankful for the bubble, and I hope that you’re thankful for it too.