Some may say I am the product of my private school education. I’ve memorized the atomic masses of elements like oxygen (15.9994) and carbon (12.011), I understand the difference between the prophets Elijah and Elisha, and I am able to laugh at jokes about calculus terms like asymptotes (can’t touch that). Others may say I am an ideal student. I get upset when I’m sick and ruin my perfect attendance, I thrive in discussions about books and history’s what-ifs, and I like to compete with my friends on who can earn the most bonus points before a test. Throughout my four years of high school I have learned so much, yet my knowledge extends past textbooks and quizzes. High school has taught me how to interact with others, to overcome peer pressure, and to rise to the challenges of difficult tasks. Charles Dickens once said, “Whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do it well; whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself completely; in great aims and in small I have always thoroughly been in earnest.” Through life experiences, I have come to understand what it means to be determined.
Charles Dickens has always been one of my favorite story tellers. The ways his plots and subplots intertwine leave me unable to put his books down. Just like Pip’s story in Great Expectations, my life is filled with subplots, some even I could not have foreseen. During my freshman year of high school, my parents began to talk about moving. I thought nothing of it because most of the conversations would end in an agreement that the time was not right. So when my parents announced the plan to move further away from the city, I was a little taken aback. My childhood home is in Lawrenceville, Georgia, a convenient distance from my high school and most of my friends. My new home is in Gainesville, Georgia, a place freakishly far from my high school and all my friends. I didn’t want to switch high schools and since I attended a private school, my parents purchased me a car and I began to commute the 66 mile round trip journey to school and back. My grandma grew up on a farm in Centerburg, Ohio. She would tell me that every morning she would have to walk a mile in the snow, often in a dress, just to catch the school bus. I feel my story is the modern day version of walking a mile in the snow. Driving has taught me a lot about patience and determination. In driving, I’ve learned, arrogance will lead you into trouble, and if you’re patient with someone now you’re more likely to have someone be patient with you later. (Some call it karma.) Determination comes in during the early morning drives. Some mornings I barely want to get out of bed, let only drive 33 miles to school, but I always get up and go.
Some of my life’s subplots have developed over a period of time. Growing up, I was an athlete. Soccer was my universe, and my time away from the field was filled with tennis matches, swim meets, horseback riding lessons, and maybe a piano lesson here and there. As high school approached, I slowly left those things behind either because I was not the star or my passion had waned. The void left behind was soon filled with a passion for theater. I had done musicals a time or two in elementary school, but I never had a spare moment to pursue it. In middle school, I began doing more plays, but it was in high school that my interest became a passion. In my junior year, I was selected to be part of my school’s competition one act play, The Anatomy of Gray, where I played the character Tiny. We practiced after school for two hours a day, four days a week, for four months. Some days we were left exhausted and stressed, but our director always made sure we had the right attitude at all times. Winning, he would say, is not our objective. As actors, it was our job to tell the story of the people we were playing. It is our job to move the audience with the story we have to tell. The story is our objective. After that, every play I participated in had a different meaning. That spring I played the nurse in Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet. I’ve probably read that play more than a handful of times, but with my director’s words in mind, the story had a different meaning. I always pictured the nurse as this crazy old lady who meddled in things that were over her head, but this time I was determined to look beyond the faA§ade. I wanted to know who this character really was; I wanted to learn her story. Romeo and Juliet is quite different from her point of view for the nurse is earnest in everything she does and says. By making the character my own, I was able to learn from her. The Nurse’s determination is not forced but simply earnest.
After high school, college is supposed to be the next step, at least that is what I’ve been told all my life. As my graduation approaches, I’ve realized that college is my next step because I want it to be. Learning has always been a passion of mine. Whether the topic is something for a test or simply information I can use in a conversation later, knowledge will always be something I treasure. Whether it’s in a car, on the stage, or in the classroom, I hope the next four years of my life will be filled with the same joy of learning that I have now.