Life as I Know It

By Sabrina Wyant

Even just as a junior in high school, I’ve had experiences that have changed me as a person and matured me in a great way. These experiences were not always great, but looking back, I now realize how they have shaped who I am today. However, many experiences were positive, and I have made fantastic memories that will always stay with me. I am choosing to reflect on the moments on my life that made the biggest impact on me, and are the most important in my heart. If I had to choose one person who had the most influence on me in my life, it would be my father. He has taught me the importance of hard work and dedication to achieve success. He’s always told me that I’m just like his father, Fred Wyant, whom I never had the chance to truly get to know, as he died in 2000. I see myself becoming like him and establishing my name in the business of hotels, but through my own hard work and not what is given to me.

The collection of songs I chose are very dear to my heart, and evoke very special memories for me. Our family’s love for music has been passed down for generations, and I was raised to truly appreciate a wide range of music, from jazz to country. My dad has always connected every song we listen to together to a memory he has, whether it be from before I was born to now. Every song we listen to, he always seems to have a story behind it. I’m very similar in this way, and it truly shows just how close my dad and I are and how much I’m like him. Psychology relates to this because it involves bringing back memories that you may have not been thinking about at a particular time, however songs can trigger your brain into remembering these moments and awakening strong emotions.

The first song I chose is “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. When my grand dad was sick in the hospital, I’ve been told that I sang this song to him, just a couple days before he passed. Though I have no specific memory of this, this song makes me incredibly emotional when I hear it, and brings back a sense of nostalgia. Because I was so young, my brain was not fully developed enough to make strong memories, and have what is called childhood amnesia. I did however make a “pseudomemory” of this event, and though I do not remember it happening, this song triggers a strong emotional response in my brain.

The next song I chose was “Learning to Fly” by Pink Floyd. This is a song that brings me to a variety of different places, but most predominantly when my dad and I are flying. He got his pilot’s license at my age in 1976, and has been flying ever since. He was an American Airlines pilot for 22 years, and every time he’d take me to school he was off to some exotic place in his uniform and playing this song. At one time he mentioned how this song was on repeat on the radio when he was driving to Chicago after he had got hired by American Airlines at the age of 29 and the overwhelming amount of joy he had. Now that he has stopped flying for them, we fly our own plane, and I often sit up in the cockpit with him. He’s taught me a great deal about flying, and he consistently tells me that I should learn how to fly. He says that my calm and collected demeanor would make for a great pilot, but I tend to lack that “fear nothing, take chances” attitude that my dad has, and it is one of my biggest weaknesses. My psychological fear of being in control of something so delicate causes me to have a lot of self-doubt and has kept me from learning how to fly, though it would be an amazing experience and something great to say you can do.

Forgive my fashion choices...

For this next event, I used a short video clip of a Formula 1 race in Suzuka, Japan in 2005. I remember watching this at 8 years old, with my dad, who was a racing driver at the time in Formula Mazda. We had a garage in Granbury, Texas at Motorsport Ranch and always we watched Formula 1 races all the time together, but this one I remember vividly. We were sitting in front of the TV and I remember him being a huge Ferrari fan rooting for Michael Schumacher, and me rooting for Fernando Alonso, because I always wanted to root for the driver opposite of who he wanted to win. This overtake was one of the best I’ve seen in all the years I’ve watched Formula 1, and it brought back very special memories of my dad and how we bonded by watching racing on weekends. Racing and cars have always been a large part of my life, and my dad being a racing driver, taught me not only the mechanics behind it but also the emotional aspect of it which a lot of people tend to look past when they think of racing drivers. I’ve always found it easy to connect racing with life situations: it takes extreme dedication, focus, and determination, if you want to be successful. You have to know when it’s time to risk it all, and you have to know when to hold back, because if you do too much of the other it results in a disaster. There is intense psychology behind a racing driver, and you have to love it so much that it comes before everything, even if it is your own life.

A more recent event in my life was when I went to Hawaii in the summer of 2013. when my dad flew for American Airlines, he always went to Hawaii, and told me many stories about it, so when we got to go together with the rest of my family it was a very special time. Every bit of Hawaii was just as I had imagined, and it even inspired me to think about going to school there. The song “Blue Hawaii” by Elvis Presley reminds me of the time I spent there, and hearing it just brings back a flashbulb memory. Spending time there is nice, but getting to share all of those memories with my entire family in such a beautiful place as Hawaii was priceless. The only complaint I had was I kept wanting to wake up late and to go bed early. The farthest I had traveled to was in the Carribean, so the time difference never was very different, but when I went to Hawaii, it was 4 hours behind, so it did mess with my circadian rhythm and it took about a week for me to get acclimated to it. Overall though, I would say it was one of my favorite vacations I’ve ever taken.

Another moment in my life can be expressed through the song “Highway 20 Ride” by the Zac Brown Band. My parents divorced when I was three years old, and this song brings back a more dark time in my life, and also makes me wish things were different and that they stayed together. But, growing up and maturing, I now realize why they had to part, and I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, and this was one of those things. If they would have never divorced, I would have never met my step mother, and I would have never had the 2 brothers that make me laugh every day. When the divorce initially happened, and major changes began to happen in my life, I was missing the 3 things that make me feel stable as a child: routine, rituals, and reassurance, which are very important for a child psychologically. I slowly started to get these aspects of my life back as I got older and started going to school, but the fact that my parents were separated still hurt for a long while. I believe this happened for a reason because it shook me awake to the reality of change, and how it is inevitable in life. My life events are very sporadic; I’ll come home from school and be told we are going to New York for the weekend. I’m truly blessed to live that sort of life, and it further increases my belief that we have to go through pain in life to live a great one, and that these experiences prepare you for bigger and better things.

Another challenge in my life was learning to ski. I chose the song “Hysteria” by Def Leppard, because I am constantly listening to classic rock when I’m skiing. And when I’m not skiing, I like to imagine I am. It’s one of my favorite hobbies and many of my fondest memories have been made in Colorado, where we spend our Christmas mornings opening presents then going on the mountain. I started skiing when I was 7, and at first I had taken an intense hatred towards it because I wanted to automatically be an expert and ski with my family, but it turns out I had to fall and yell quite a lot for me to actually learn and improve. Now, 10 years later, I am able to ski black diamonds with only the occasional fall (obviously only caused by one of my family members running into me hehe). I am not sure why classic rock instantly brings me to memories of Colorado, but I’m sure it is because of the amount of times my dad has played Def Leppard, Guns n’ Roses, or Pink Floyd on the radio when we drive there. Now, skiing is an extremely physical sport, however it can be quite mental as well. I find myself having to focus on the course and not think about what others are doing, because if you let yourself relax too much, your face could end up in the snow. The first time I approached a black diamond, I remember giving myself a pep talk. With skiing, self confidence is extremely important and you have to be able to handle last minute negativity or self-doubts, and not let them eat you up, because if you do, you are bound to make a mistake. This also taught me in life to be the same way: negativity and self doubt will get you nowhere. You have to be willing to believe in yourself if you want to get anywhere in life.

I also underwent a tough experience on a school trip several years ago. I was in the 6th grade, and our entire grade of about 15 people went to California to an ocean institute. We had to live on a sailboat for an entire week, and we had to do all sorts of physically and mentally exhausting labor on the ship. We cleaned the deck, hoisted the sails, and had to navigate and steer the ship. The most prevalent issue I had was that I get incredibly sea sick and that affected my ability to work. The vestibular system in the body is the regulator for balance of motion, and the visual system sends corresponding signals to the brain. Anything that disrupts this normal relationship can results in seasickness, like I had experienced there in California. Often times it helps to look on the horizon to restore that balance, however at that time it had gotten so severe that I just had to get off the ship in order to feel better.

The final event I chose was quite possibly the greatest day of my life. When I learned that I was going to be apart of that experience, I was actually sitting in this class on a Friday. My friend, who lives in Austin, sent me a text saying she won a contest to go to the Formula 1 team Red Bull’s show run of their cars that they were hosting the next week, and that she wanted to take me. I remember exactly how I felt when I read that message. My heart was racing, and my mind was going through so many scenarios of how everything was going to plan out. I was anxious in a positive way, however the excitement I had did get in the way of my sleep , and each night until that day my heart would race every time I thought about the event. Wednesday finally came, and we met the team for breakfast, where we were told that we would meet and hang out with Daniel Ricciardo, who happens to be my favorite driver in Formula 1. When we got to the hotel and finally saw him, my heart was racing to the point where I nearly felt sick, and had no appetite at all. This is called the flight-or-flight response, and my response to meeting someone as high profile in the world of motorsport as him, caused my adrenaline to sky rocket. The amount of emotions and excitement I felt was caused by a large amount of dopamine being released in my brain, and lasted the entire day until probably a week after. This experience changed me because the previous weeks had been extremely difficult on me, and to have something like this happen felt like a miracle. I chose the song “How You Like Me Now” by the Heavy not only because it was the song Red Bull used in their film segment for the event, but because I felt completely and absolutely on top of the world.

One of the most difficult times in my life was when I was struggling with an eating disorder. I began losing weight in the fall of 2011, and it took a turn for the worse in 2012. The lowest weight I ever got to was 75 pounds, at the height I am now, 5'1. Many people question orthorexia, whether it is a real disorder or not. However, having gone through it, I can verify that it was very real to me even though I denied it at the time. I ate extremely healthy, and would break down if we had to go to restaurants and I did not know the nutrition facts or the ingredients. If I had anything that had butter on it, I'd avoid eating it at all costs. Because my eating choices were so limited, I went hungry all the time and thought about food all the time. I was obsessed with food, just not consuming it. My life revolved around food, I planned everything around it. I was extremely unhappy with myself constantly even though at the time I claimed that I "felt great." The psychology behind orthorexia, and most eating disorders, starts off with wanting to just eat healthy and live a better lifestyle, and then gradually turns into a a battle of control and compulsion with food. I began working out 2 hours a day to burn the calories I had eaten, so I had a negative calorie intake. It got so bad that even my tennis coaches reported me to the counselor's office, and I remember sitting there talking nothing but lies about how I eat and how my relationship with food was completely normal and healthy. I was in denial. Recovery was very difficult for me. It was a learning experience for me, and my family as well. In the beginning my dad would just make rude remarks of how I looked old and emaciated, and that I needed to "eat a cookie".  Then, once he realized the severity of my mental anguish, he took a different approach and my entire family were incredibly supportive and guided me to get well. Recovery is something people with eating disorders have to want, it cannot be forced on them. Now, as a recovered orthorexic/borderline anorexic, I continue to eat healthfully but I keep it 80% healthy, 20% indulgent. I allow myself to enjoy food now, and my life no longer surrounds it.

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