Happy new year, from the baby chick

Happy January 1st, 2020 dear reader!

I’m on my bed in my dorm, flipping between my UChicago supplemental essays draft Google Doc and a bunch of hilarious Medium articles on the worst (and best) moments of the 2010s. Pa just messaged me on Wechat, ordering me to post some sort of “New Year” update before whoops, another month of silence goes by. My sincere apologies for neglecting to write for the past month and a half or so. I hope anyone reading who is familiar with the American college application process understands that my thoughts, life, and emotional state were pretty much entirely consumed and dictated by the Common Application.

But I’m here now, wishing you a cheery and wonderful morning right from your inbox. I also want to share a little analogy that I’ve come to realize in the past few days of reflection (and only slight abject horror) at the prospects of the first bona fide decade of my life being over. Done. Lived-through. Been there, done that. Not that I could really do anything about the passing of time, but thank goodness my pre-frontal cortex has developed (at least partially) during these formative years of my life, and with it, my emotional maturity, strength of relationships with people that I love, and understanding of this great wide world we live in.

So, the analogy. Kimia, one of my closest friends, often compares herself to a bushy-tailed squirrel. In return, I offered up an animal of my own, almost on a whim, based off my emoji keyboard on my phone—a baby chick, half out of its eggshell, perfectly yellow-feathered and orange-beaked. It’s only recently that I’ve realized the symbolic importance of my emoji of choice: I am but a baby chick, still in my shell inside a cozy chicken coop on a quaint little farm. (Not that I really know anything about farm life outside of Farmer Boy from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House series or Animal Farm from our middle school required readings… hm.) This past decade, I have been pecking and hammering, quite furiously in recent years, to get the hell out of my shell. This year in Beijing has expedited that process quite suddenly, applying some sort of Chinese-medicine acupressure point massage thing to the eggshell, if you will. I’ve barely begun to poke my head out the cracks I’ve struggled to create in my shell, my container, this safe home that is so incredibly limiting. I’m about to be moved—whether in one coop on the East Coast or another on the West or even plopped in a hugely large and prestigious barn (covered in Ivy?! Hah, maybe I’m taking this a little far now.) that I do not know yet. What I do know, however, is that I know basically nothing. And that no matter where I end up, or where this year takes me, or even the next ten, nothing can take away from my past, present, and future self-worth and potential to become a beautiful feathered chicken.

I won’t go into what being a full-grown chicken entails because I know you have things to do and places to be on this lovely first day of 2020. (But man, being raised and reared so that others will profit and/or feast on me? The delicious (haha) irony of it all…)

Pa wanted me to write something, so here it is. Please excuse the first-draft-y-ness of this, I’ve got some college applications to finish. I wish you all the best for the year to come!

Signed with love,

Baby chick.


  1. Okay for the record Pa did not ‘order’ Mei to write a blog post for her audience, I just made it a condition of reviewing YACE (an acronym I just made up – Yet Another College Essay) for her.

    Keep pecking like crazy at that shell Mei, there’s a big beautiful world out there that we were lucky enough to be born into, and not at a different time and place in world history. Sometimes I wonder what life would be like at an 18th century peasant laboring in a rice field in Japan, or an 11th century monk somewhere in the hills of France, or some kind of slave in the Roman Empire. We are living in the best of all times – reading Matt Ridley recently in the UK Spectator, the last 10 years have been pretty incredible. Good news for our species, we are figuring out how to take care of ourselves and the environment. Here’s the link to the Spectator UK piece.

    Thank you for writing this up, I’m sure a lot of people are going to wake up this morning and read this with a smile.

  2. Count me!
    新年快乐! It is a treat reading the essays you have written, man, that’s a lot! We should make a collection for a book one day.

  3. Hi, Mei, so nice to be able to read this before I start my work in the new year! I really like your analogy. Good luck with everything and looking forward to your next post!

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