Spring is here, and summer is not far off. Actually, summer is only about four weeks away. Third-year classes will soon be finished, exams completed, and school-based relationships forgotten until next term begins, where you’ll catch up like fabulous friends when in reality, four months have just flown by, and neither of you bothered to exchange a word.

We’re a quarter of the way through a year that has been so eventful that I’ve forgotten who I was and what I did back in 2011. A year that has made me realize, both directly and indirectly, that time is real, and is under direct orders to march forward, regardless of how many billions of people lag behind.

And it’s now, a quarter of the way through my year, that I’ve actually come face-to-face with my New Year Resolution: To be stronger, and in every sense of the word. Excellence is a habit, and we are each in control of how we let people treat us. We set the precedence for how we are perceived, how we are respected or feared. We may not be able to control what others direct toward us, but we definitely have some say in whether actions and words are repeated or not.

But it’s not personal, it’s just business, right?

Right. And I have taken excruciating steps to ensure that what’s personal to me, is never mixed with my business. But what no one ever says is that real business is built on what’s personal.

There are very few things I value. I wasn’t raised religiously, and I have no ethnicity, race, or culture I identify with. But I was raised on family. Not family values, but family in and of itself. It’s a system of unconditional support that isn’t defined by blood or ancestry, but by who has your back. And let me tell you, not all blood has your back.

I believe in loyalty, because in a world of subjectivity and relativity, if there has to be some sort of a higher calling, it’s going to be a faith in other human beings, and a faith that is one step removed from rash actions and heated words.

I believe in freedom and justice; that we are all entitled to do as we wish, as long as we don’t directly harm others, and as long as we are prepared to undeniably accept the consequences of the actions we choose.

Finally, I believe in respect: Respect for the fact that we are all going to act as we wish, respect for different beliefs, ideas, religions, cultures. Respect for individuality. And respect for the fact that respect does not mean agreement, but rather an acknowledgment that the beauty of freedom is the ability to have some say in who we are, in what we like, in what we trust.

I’m young, too young to be dealing with discriminatory disrespect, and yet simultaneously too old to only be realizing its presence now.

The politics of how to live are getting in the way of my living. Spring stands for new beginnings, and I’m taking a stand for a fresh start, and for the birth of a stronger, better, me. For I’d rather have people hate me, because then I’ll know that at some point in my life, I have stood for something.