Youth poet Shankar Chawla first stumbled upon the idea for “Our Worth” while listening to a speech regarding the college admissions process. The speech touched on the notion that, for a large portion of their adolescence, millions of students invest vast amounts of time to look marketable to universities. This endeavor often comes at the price of one’s mental health and general well-being . In this poem, Chawla personifies a piece of paper as it is folded into beautiful origami. The paper begins as a blank canvas, but as it undergoes shaping and manipulation, it discovers the opportunity to become something seemingly magnificent. “Our Worth” poses many potent questions about value, judgment, joy, and identity. Does changing oneself lead to deeper happiness when a system and the pressure to succeed catalyzed those changes? Do said alterations make one greater than before? Are we worth more when the pressure molds us?
By: Shankar Chawla
Walls of paper, folding in.
The weft and weave of an unknown force.
I am condemned, unable to quiver, I cease my breath.
In my sufferance, I am molded, I am manipulated.
For what cause? Who prospers?
Now I am beautiful, I am great.
Yet, in the wake of this revelation, I am unenthused.
Should I be grateful? Is my contentment expected?
Am I superior to my prior self?
I am lost.