Shark Story: Addison Willes

Shark Story: Addison Willes

Lauren Bulanek, Op/Ed Editor and Shark Story Editor

Addison Willes is a senior at Santiago High School. She is the Vice President of Silver Pen Writers’ Society. In her free time, she enjoys writing, crafts, and baking. 

Why do you work hard in school?
“I see school as a gateway to the future; it’s not the only exit (or entrance, depending on how you view it) and it might not always be the most effective one, but it is the portal I would prefer to take, because it reflects my strengths and makes me happy.”

What do you do to motivate yourself, to push yourself?
“I find motivation in little things, rather than large goals; this practice helps to keep me grounded, so my dreams don’t get too large and whisk me away. My drive is present in things such as comfort and consistency, the promise things won’t get too hectic or stressful. Being able to maintain a level head allows me to think more clearly, which is crucial for the way in which I choose to live my life.”

Do you have a certain way you study? 
“I don’t study much; for me, if I don’t get it the first time, I probably won’t later, regardless of how hard I try. Thus, when I study, I have to look at it like perfecting a skill. For example, I’ll keep doing related practice until I feel confident in my abilities regarding this topic. It varies by subject and by topics within that subject, but I tend to really understand something if I can make practical, as well as physical, applications.”

What advice would you give someone feeling overwhelmed? 
“It’s easy to become overwhelmed, with school and social life and family and society, but it is important to take a step back and view the world from an objective lens. For a lot of people, it can be difficult to see past what they are feeling (I’m lucky in that it largely comes naturally to me), but to allow those emotions to be eased for a moment will allow their mellowing over time. It can be beneficial to feel strongly, but it can also be dangerous, which is why it is important to keep a balance, that way you’re not encompassed by either method of thinking.”

What is your self care routine? 
“I don’t really practice much “self care” in what I suppose one would call the typical sense. When I feel I need it — and there’s not a specific situation, and I can mostly just intuit when this occurs — I just take a break from my life. I push all the things causing me stress to the side and do something to relax — usually, this means I write or listen to music or draw. It helps to do little things, too, like taking fifteen minutes to unwind before an all-nighter, drinking enough water to avoid a headache, or stretching your legs out while you do homework so your joints don’t get too stiff. Doing small things along the way makes it not so bad when you get really stressed or worried.”

What’s your dream job? Why?
“In my wildest dreams, I would be an author; at some level, it’s a practical job, but not for me. In this specific alternate reality I have created for this question, I’m financially independent and I have a project I am deeply passionate about, and there’s nothing standing in my way for me to consistently be satisfied with my life in terms of my fantasy employment. On the other hand, I would want to be an astronaut; however, while I’m deeply interested in science as a concept, I’m not particularly skilled at it in the way that would be necessary for it to be my profession, thus, I would need something a bit different — ideally, to combine these passions, I could write about my time in space.”

What does life mean to you? 
“There are an infinite number of answers to this question — love, passion, joy, safety — and yet no one word can truly encapsulate what the meaning of life is, and not due to our language’s bounds or a philosophical lapse. Rather, it is because life means nothing — in fact, a lot of things, most things, mean nothing. It’s so easy to see this as something negative, depressing — that is, life means nothing so why try anything — and yet that’s such a black-and-white way of seeing the world. Just because something means nothing or something so insignificant it is nearly nothing, doesn’t mean it is worthless. A sunset is just a symbol of the sun exiting our collective view, something so mundane it should not be particularly relevant in our minds, and yet it is breathtaking and beautiful each time we look at it. Things don’t have to have some ultimate symbolic reason for being good to be important or relevant or even to make us happy. Sometimes, there is beauty in simplicity — and sometimes there is not, but that doesn’t discredit when there is. Everything, every human and plant and animal and tiny little pebble, has so much potential — potential to change, to do good, to forge a flow with what is generally known as a collective unconscious — and they can choose in which way they would like to realize this potential. This is largely what makes life and existence so interesting, so full and rich and vibrant — the power to choose. So, life has no meaning, but that doesn’t mean it is boring or unimportant or anything less than utterly magnificent.”

What do you want to achieve in your lifetime? 
“I don’t really have huge aspirations, in that I don’t want to be wealthy or famous. I want to live a life in which I am happy and I have the means to help others; I want to enjoy my job and feel comfortable in my house and have time to unwind, but I also want to go to sleep knowing people aren’t suffering because of me, or because of what I’m not doing. My ambitions are simple: make people as happy as I know how.”

What have you had to overcome to get where you are?
“As I said recently to my friend, I am too creative to be tied down to one idea; of course, I meant this as a joke but there is some truth to it. I am constantly creating and trying new things — the only issue is that all these new creations mean I don’t have time for the old ones. I move too fast to stay bound to one idea; as soon as I start to develop one, a new one pops up. It takes a lot to not jump on the newest, shiniest idea, but when I do take a moment to slow down and really perfect something, I can truly see the results. For example, I’ve probably started over fifty novels or short stories in the last five years, if that small number, and yet I’ve only ever finished three or four things. But the things I have finished have brought me a ton of pride, whether it be a work I just really enjoyed making or a work I got published in one of three books.”

What advice would you give your past self? 
“It would behoove you to, rather than talk constantly, to listen to what other people have to say as well as to the world around you. Everything and everyone has a story to tell. You’ll learn a lot more a lot faster that way, and you’ll find more happiness and knowledge where you might not always expect it.”