So What, What Does It Mean To Be Me? A Look Inside Tapashwi Karki

My name is Tapashwi Karki but I never really use my name in its entirety. I get angry when I overheat and I cry over children’s movies for weeks. On the days I turn my work in three days in advance fully checked over, I think about law school and open up my LSAT study guide for half an hour. On the days I’m three cups of coffee down trying to finish up an assignment due in 2 hours while trying to prepare for a meeting in an hour, I debate just living in the woods in the middle of nowhere. Saying that I know what I want to do next would be an injustice to myself.  

When I was in the second grade, we were asked to create a poster of who we were. My poster was bright blue and covered in almost too many smiley faces. In the center, in big and badly misspelled bold was “when I grow up I want to be a scientist”. That year I dreamt of working for NASA because I read a book about space and we had an entire unit about the moon. I wanted to explore the universe and discover a new planet. When fifth-grade graduation came, we were asked to prepare a short speech on who we were and what we hoped for in the future. In the speech, I talked about my love for the earth and how someday I would save it from climate change as my 3rd-grade teacher stood in the back, waving her ‘Earth Lover’ shirt. Unsurprisingly when 9th grade rolled around, there was something new for me to say. As we were asked to write a letter to our senior year selves, I dreamt about being a lawyer or being in the FBI as I thought about Emily Prentis and Aaron Hotchner. Breaking the pattern, three days after graduation I sat on the couch with my family, in the middle of the movie my parents were watching, unable to answer them in what I wanted to pursue a degree in. 

Coming into Lawrence University, I debated BioChem as a major because I found comfort in it. I felt like it was something I knew and grew up with yet while I sat in my first biology class I felt small and unsure. I fought the feeling and continued onward, trying to structure my life at Lawrence around this idea of pursuing medicine while actively ignoring the distaste for this future I was building in me. That, as is evident now, was not a feeling I could ignore for very much longer. As I struggled in a linguistics class during the first lockdown, listening to my cousin wail in the next room, I had to ask myself, “what am I doing with my life?” 

Asking this question was both the best and worst thing I could have done. It sent me in this long winding spiral of debating what my purpose was and who I am meant to become. It made me question my ethics and morals and made me look through every major requirement, trying to see what would spark some flame in me. To be frank, nothing really did so I fell back on the last big spark I’d felt, law. I signed up for seven government classes for my sophomore year, I ordered an LSAT study guide and two books on thinking like a lawyer and I moved forward. In all honesty, while I love my government major in the pre-law track, I am still unsure of my future after Lawrence. Something I have learned through the poking and prodding of purpose this year is that I am certain I want to change the world. 

I might sound far-fetched and idealistic but I grew up in love with superheroes and fantasy novels full of world-saving adventure. The people I looked up to most were the teens my age, around the world, starting great change and challenging even their own governments. Most of all, on the days I was sad over a test score or over struggling to finish a long assignment my mom would come into my room and boldly tell me, “you’re here to change the world, I just know it.” 

I grew up in love with creating change. Two of my best friends during high school helped co-found an organization called PLUM (Please Learn and Understand Menstruation) in which they developed kits for village girls in Nepal to have access to sustainable pads and practice good hygiene during their periods. They helped deconstruct the taboo around menstruation with everyone they met. One of my first best friends, while Thailand struggled politically, wrote articles of change countries away, educating the people around her as a journalist. I have grown up with people unafraid of change and challenge, and questioning what I want to do with my life has made me realize nor am I. I want to help people in every way possible and to the best of my ability and whether I can change the world or just one person’s world, I am still hopeful. Whether I am working as an international lawyer, fighting cases for justice against genocide, or in an organization fighting for people’s rights or traveling the world and supporting communities in need of aid and support, I know I want to be a part of the change. My name is Tapashwi Karki and I want to change the world.