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Grit, gratitude and a grain of salt

Raima Saha / The SPOKE

By Jeffrey Heng, Co-Opinion Editor

There I was, blowing out the candles for my “Salty Sixteenth Birthday” — and looking over me, 23 of my friends who were about to embark on the infamous sophomore slump — or shall I say suffer more stump. Already a week into the school year, my birthday wish was quite subdued: “I hope everything will be fine” — that the very decisions and outcomes from high school would grant me and the friends surrounding me satisfaction in the future.

Fast forward a few weeks later, I open Schoology to the “disaster” that was my first chemistry test grade: 65%. For a second, I felt like a failure, heck, even a flop.

Surprisingly though, I cried laughing. Rivulets of salty tears dissolved on my face, and I savored the moment. In alignment with the floating rock mentality, I no longer felt like a futile rubble for my future.

The floating rock mentality is a motto for not taking life too seriously and embracing the chaos, based on the premise that we “float on a rock”: the earth. It promotes the concept that “nothing matters” and that you should not succumb to hopelessness. The most intriguing way I can explain this is in the light of a metaphor: the life cycle of a saltwater frog.

As tadpoles, we embrace the saltiness of the pond until we evolve into frogs. Learning from the saltwater chaos drives us to become more determined to grow legs and eventually become multifaceted frogs with many capabilities.

With life’s uncertainties, we never know how concentrated the saltwater solution will be. There are so many events that are out of your control. Life will always find a way to change its concentration gradient, so we should not beat ourselves up over it. We are living adventurous and spontaneous lives that elicit an unpredictable rollercoaster of emotions, so rather than dwelling on failure, take a second to embrace the chaos.

With this mindset, improving our well-being and our mental health becomes a priority once we stop expecting so many things from the highly salinated, busy, stressful and oversaturated environment that is life. Taking time for yourself and recognizing the courage it takes to be where you are today is one of the grittiest things you can do.

The floating rock mentality, or in this case floating frog mentality, by no means frees anyone from overbearing obstacles. Even with its sentiment that “nothing matters,” it certainly doesn’t excuse anyone from ignoring their problems or responsibilities. Even so, the idea of accepting the chaos may be beneficial to invest time in no matter where you are in life. It is a reminder that feeling lost in life now is not an accurate depiction of what frog you will become; no matter how hard you crash in life, no matter how bitter the solution tastes now or no matter how many ’Stoga 55%s you end up receiving.

You wouldn’t be the ambitious saltwater frog you are today without enduring the curveballs of living in brackish water as a tadpole. Even adult frogs who adventure the vast Earth find that the moisture from these waters is still necessary to thrive. If you find yourself struggling, remember to live life with a grain of salt — you should always be grateful for making it so far in this salty pond society.

Put on your frog bucket hat. Slide on some cool shades. Drift on that lilypad. Raise a toast with a salt packet to savor. After all, there’s no other species of frogs like us who can thrive in such high concentrations of saltwater.

Jeffrey Heng can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Jeffrey Heng
Jeffrey Heng, Co-Opinion Editor
Jeffrey Heng is a sophomore and Staff Reporter for The Spoke. He has written news, opinion and sports articles, as well as web and sports briefs. Beyond the newsroom, he volunteers for Make Us Visible PA, which aims to integrate AAPI studies in K-12 schools, is a board member of the Asian American Culture Club, and is a profound lover of frogs, puns and salt.