Here it is.
It’s my turn to look back on last week. I remember in ’05 I came back feeling so attached to TAF. I had just been an ILT, and especially after the taflove workshop I felt like I had touched many lives. But what happened over the course of that year? I stopped talking with a lot of my TAFers, I wasn’t able to feel the taflove anymore. I remember people trying to hype me up, but it felt more annoying that this taflove had to be forced upon me. Something wasn’t right. I even convinced myself that TAF wasn’t important, so much so that I purposely signed up for a tennis camp on the same week as TAF last year. I had an alibi. I heard stories when TAF ’06 was over, and they weren’t great. Youth had apparently been a disappointment, and really that made it even harder for me to come back. I’m glad I had TAC though, because when I went in ’06, it sort of re-sparked the light of TAF…but I had already decided to miss that year. When TAC rolled around again this year, I saw a fellow ILT from ’05 again. We started talking about all our memories…and once again the light was lit up again. I guess we ourselves hyped it up so much that many TACers came to TAF this year. Actually, before TAF I just had had an amazing time at NYLF-med in Boston. I had met so many new friends, and after hearing the disappointment of Youth from last year, I was wondering whether NYLF could rival TAF…
Knock down my walls…
After hearing everything, I came to TAF with very low expectations. I myself knew that I had these low expectations, which I think really got to me, and might have gotten to some other people too. I’m sorry. I really wasn’t into everything, the TAF games which I really re-love now, and everything. It was interesting though, how others also felt the same way, really not into the TAF spirit for the first few days. It was interesting though, because one of these people was basically, my long time TAF crush (from now on shortened to “tc”), ever since juniors, even though she didn’t really know me back then. It sort of made me feel bad that she was feeling gloomy too, so I tried to enjoy TAF more with the hopes that maybe she’ll be happier too. (I don’t know where I got that idea from…but maybe it worked). So even though everyone else was trying to push me to enjoy myself (and thanks to everyone who tried), I believe that it was my long-term tc who really made me question, “Why am I building up these walls around me before I even give it a chance?” So, thanks to her too.
On the other hand, it was really nice to see everyone’s faces again. After two years, you’d think a lot of things have changed, but I still recognized everyone (minus a few) and I still felt pretty comfortable around them. Walking in and getting hugs right away with shrieks of excitement from some people, I was happy to be with all my friends again. Hugs. There’s something I want to say about hugs. How come at TAF they’re given so freely, with almost everyone hugging each other especially by the end of the week, while in real life, hugs are so expensive? Even the people that Carolyn and I saw during our adventure to Harvard who had the Free Hugs signs, had so many people just walk right by them. What makes TAF so different? What does TAF have to offer that you can’t find in other places? (More on this later)
I feel really lucky to have the roommate that I did. Instead of partying every night like some crazy people, we would end up sleeping at an early 1-2 am consistently every night…maybe 3 on the night we decided to watch arguably one of the CREEPIEST videos ever. Through our late night discussions I found out that we are actually really similar people, even though on the outside, I guess we look pretty different…minus being Taiwanese. It was great to know that someone was really similar to me, with similar experiences. (Our discussion after the Identity dialogue was probably the most meaningful…) I really wasn’t expecting for him to be the one that I could talk to about all my thoughts about TAF, only meeting him in ’05 for a short period and having a little conflict between us about tcs (…LOL) but in the end I was really lucky to have a roommate who I connected with so much.
The Small Group
I think I really missed this part of TAF. I enjoyed my small group this year. I was really happy that a lot of people were able to open up to each other in our small group. I feel like we were more of a serious group however, and even though I was looking for a personal growing experience this year, I feel like I would have also enjoyed playing more games with the other groups too. I guess a good thing about our seriousness was because we were able to trust each other a whole lot faster than the other group. I really am not an emotional person, or I just tend not to be. I rarely cry in public, but one of our small group sessions really made me think, and really broke me down inside. All the supports that I had built up inside collapsed and I felt my control slip away. It was the first time I had cried in years. Just what about small group was able to break down all the strength inside? What allowed me to trust these people?
Our speaker was amazing. His sessions overall were really interesting compared to other speakers I’ve heard in the past. He really showed us that anyone could be a leader. I really liked how he told all his personal stories in an attempt to try and help us understand what he was talking about. I also appreciated when he told us his own stories about sacrifice…and how even now he yearns for his dad just to say “I’m proud of you”. He definitely drew a tear from me in that speech.
-The two extremes of leaders are “crunchy” and “soft-batch”
-Crunchy leaders need to learn character
-Soft-Batch leaders need to take initiative
-Leadership qualities…Initiative, Influence, Impact
-Service = Sacrifice: Pride, Comfort, Identity, Friendships, Acceptance
-Loving somebody = Sacrifice
I love my friends. I really wish I could always be with them. I hope they can come to my wedding. I really wish our friendships last forever. It’s kind of weird. You hear this happens for many camps, one week together and you’re going to be friends forever…but most of the times it’s not true. TAF though, is different. You go back every year to refresh your love for these people. Each person has something to bring to the table at TAF. Everyone has something to share. Every time I give a hug to any one of my friends, I wish I could hold on forever. I never want to forget…anyone. I love the hugs at TAF. They make me feel safe. They make me feel like I’m worth something. They make me feel wanted. I miss you guys.
-Swing Choir…loads of fun
-Watching High School Musical with everyone
-Water Fight…getting carried in twice.
-Learning Taiwanese pick up lines
-Doing some crazy stuff on a pool table…don’t ask.
I really felt this was amazing. Almost all of the JH, Youth, and College all together in one small area, dancing together…partying like rockstars and all. Watching a group of guys performing their well planned “Bye bye bye” routine following all of Nsync’s moves…and Everyone: Jumping around together, to forever young. Celebrating the last night of TAF. Celebrating all the new friends that were made. Celebrating a week of feeling like being at home. Unreal. Do you really want to live forever?...
What is TAF? What does it provide for us that makes it so unique from the real world? I think many of us have asked that question. For some reason, when I come to TAF, I feel like I can make friends with everyone. But why? I guess, I’ll try and answer this question. Once we step into TAF, we leave so everything behind. Who we are back home doesn’t mean anything here, but instead, who we are inside…no matter how deep you have to look. We all allow ourselves to be vulnerable in some way. Because of this, we can all trust each other. This trusting atmosphere is what creates our “safe” environment at TAF. I feel like, who we are at TAF is really who we want to be all the time, but we can’t, because for the other 51 weeks of the year, we live in another world; A world unseen to many of your fellow TAFers. Sure, many people come back to TAF year after year for their friends, but I think many of us come back for something more than that. It seems as a lot of us go through a lot in the 51 weeks outside of TAF. Sometimes, we just need a break from our hectic lives. Sometimes I want to be myself again, with no pressures from the outside world already seeing me in a certain way. Sometimes, I need some real friends. I’m seriously thinking about approaching this school year the same way I approach TAF, making myself vulnerable, but I’m scared. If they don’t accept me, will I be broken forever?
PostScript. I was writing this reflection for quite some while, and as I re-read it, I started to cry. Tears dropped, as I thought of all friends I had made and how I won’t be able to see them again for another 51 weeks. I had convinced myself that lasting this long with no emotion towards TAF meant that I didn’t have the TAF blues, but then I thought of all the smiling faces and all the warm hearts. I broke down. I want to go back. I miss everyone.