When I was in college here in Kentucky, I became Known on campus, or at least in the English Department. I wasn't the most punctual or active student, so I was not infamous for that. No, I was Known for a piece I wrote. I have ever been an opportunist. I wrote this piece about a negative experience I had with another student in the class: The Masturbator. I remember printing and stapling the piece- a 12 page masterpiece of vitriol and punishment- before handing it out that fateful Friday. He took one and I smiled at him. I wonder if he remembers that, as well. Here is, largely, the piece that slayed a man. Anytime I stroll into a classroom and it's outfitted with actual tables and chairs I unabashedly revel in the opportunity to have a place to comfortably put my belongings. I hate the cramped, little wrap-around desks that NKU seems to think are “efficient.” A tall, tanned fellow approached the chair beside me and paused. I flicked my blue eyes up to his dark ones and was rewarded with a smile from him. Not a bad smile, I guess, but boys' smiles don't affect me like they used to. It could have been an award-winning eligible bachelor smile for all I know. He asked tentatively, “Can I sit here?” His question struck me as odd—it's not like we were at a wedding or a school dance or something. I don't care where you sit in class. Honestly, I'm not the best conversationalist. I'm a passing fair smiler-and-giggler, but the truth of my social success, such as it is, is my arrogant meanness. My most recent nickname is “The Eviscerator,” for I often disembowel my male friends in semi-playful banter. I'm extremely awkward if I'm not being a heinous bitch. Class began and I remained basking in the glory of a separate chair from desk situation—arm hooked over the back, right leg crossed over my left, shoulders back. I spared my neighbor a glance and realized he was “arranging himself,” which I contend as the most distracting thing a guy can do, for all parties involved. Quickly, I realized he was arranging a boner. Fuck. I moved to shift in my seat, but hesitated. I decided to be cool, like I hadn't noticed. I figured it was embarrassing for most boys and it wasn't like he could help it. I decided to take it as a compliment and hoped it went away. Soon. A few minutes later, I'll admit, I peeked. I wanted to know if we were in the clear and nothing weird was going on, but there he was, long olive fingers wrapped around his dick, squeezing it rhythmically. He stroked it, moved it and squeezed it again. I don't own a penis, but I'm pretty sure this is not the recommended method for getting rid of an inappropriate woody. Upon this discovery, there were many words to describe my reaction, including, but not limited to: abhorred, disgusted, enraged, betrayed and revolted. We were thirty minutes into class when I noticed he had started pinching the head of his cock, still habitually looking at me. I was hoping to get out of class as fast as possible, but before I could skedaddle he asked about my tattoos. “Yeah, sure,” I said, which was not an answer. My eyes narrowed and all I saw was the door. I was angry. I had done nothing, which was the worst thing I could have done. He was momentarily rebuffed but smiled and purred, “I really like that dress.” I hope my eyes flashed as venomously as I think they did. An Evisceration was on my lips as I hefted my purse to my shoulder, but all I said was, “Yeah. I bet you do.” I saw the opportunity to tell him what I thought of his actions that day. I couldn't let him get away with it, and live his life without knowing. Dear Reader, I gave The Masturbator his own story. The day of my workshop I could not shake my nerves, I jittered and skittered through the entire day. I saw my friend, C, hanging in the hall, a text perched on her knees. “He's pretty mad, huh?” She asked. “Who?” I wanted to know. I was scared the teacher would consider my story highly inappropriate, or worse, side with the Masturbator. “You ought to check the blackboard,” she said, eyes wide behind her metal framed glasses. It was gold. A treasure trove of insults and accusations and acknowledgement. He admitted it happened. I did not name him, but he outed himself. I was elated. I floated to class that day. He didn't come to my critique. During my workshop, my professor asked me why I was the Wimp, not the Eviscerator. It was a shame, to listen to the professor tell on himself, as well. It was clear that he did not look at the Blackboard, that he did not click the little hypertext links to peruse his students' reviews. When I turned in my final draft I explained myself. The professor read my portfolio, complete with the ending of the Masturbator's tale, and emailed me. He said he would take it up with the Dean. I shrugged it off. The next semester, C, who worked in the Office, let me know she'd looked at the student files. They expelled the Masturbator. Eviscerated.
According to Webster's dictionary, nostalgia means "a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to some past period or irrecoverable condition". When asked about college, many graduates reminisce with a sense of nostalgia. The funny things about looking back is sometimes the smallest, most simple memories scream into the abyss of the so-called "college memories" folder in my mind. We should take pictures of such moments, perhaps as a way to feel big in the wide world by the vastness of our own memories. Not just for social media but to be able to nurture nostalgia one day. If I had captured snapshots of nostalgic moments in college, then they would have evoked memories such as the following: 1. A Friday on Campus As if looking back at a series of sepia prints, I see a tornado of backpacks among brick walls, printed-out lecture notes appearing as the latest fashion staple, and roaring group circles. Walking to my last class of the day on a late Friday afternoon, the sun dances on my skin as the Friday feeling builds inside of me like an inflating balloon about to burst. The first warm day of the semester graces the campus and one thing's on everyone's mind: spring is here. You can see it in the way people skip down the sidewalks. You can hear it in the way people talk. You can smell a freshness in the air that dusts away the brutal complaints cried out the past few months of coldness. You can feel it in the palpable oneness of the students. Music blares out the speakers of fraternities. Rowdy guys in t-shirts and shorts are either sipping beers or throwing a ball around. It seems their weekend has already started. Well, actually it started as soon as 9am when I heard the speakers chanting the lyrics, "my girl wants to party all the time, party all the time, party all the tiiime", before entering the library. I think that little bit could be their motto. Beep beep. "Happy Friday!" a bunch of girls packed into a compact car shout out the window. Only one more class, I tell myself, although every cell in my body refuses to sit in the gray computer lab and work on a statistics assignment for a whole hour. After turning my assignment in and bolting out the door, my soul dances, floating above each "have a good weekend" exchanged around me, feeling lighter knowing the weekend has finally arrived. 2. A Beloved Study Spot A quiet place to study on a Monday serves as a nice retreat from the beer-littered lawns and people raving about their bumpin' weekend or whatever the college kids say. People raving about their "man that's sick dude"-weekend. People talking about getting trashed and having to walk their overly drunk roommate back to the dorm. Based on personal experience, it's not the best background noise for studying kinetic energy. Sinking into a cozy cafe chair, I can dig into my science textbook uninterrupted. Sometimes the background chatter comes from wannabe philosophers. "Why is this important?". What a great diversion from earlier discussions. Of course, I can tune it out and focus on my work. As usual, I savor my safe haven of note-taking and productive energy thanks to the sea of students studying around me. 3. A Fun Club Activity After class, I find my roommate sitting atop the steps of the tiny front porch while jotting some notes down. "What are you studying?" I ask her. "Oh just organizing my French notes." "That's funny," I reply, "I was actually going to ask you if you wanted to come to the French club party tonight." She squeals, "Oooh!!! I would love to! Let me get ready." Cue the French music. We go inside along with the sound of pre-party entertainment playing from her iPhone, and she announces that she has the perfect shirt, a striped shirt with the word Ibiza, known for its European nightclubs. Then, we walk about 10 minutes through campus to the small party where we enjoy some finger foods and a glass of wine while chatting and taking turns choosing the music. "Did you know she's a good dancer?" my roommate puts me on the spot while twirling her wine. Laughing, I awkwardly shake my hips a few seconds to the beat of the foreign song and mention that we both do swing dancing together. The variety of college activities facilitated the process of connecting with people. Making connections was so much easier. I took this luxury for granted. Looking back is like steeping a green tea as memories diffuse out of our brains, spreading like tea aroma. After a few minutes, there's a warm cup of happiness. If steeped too long, there's a bitter after-taste. Time frames can be recalled by music, smells, pictures, and even the power of your own mind. According to Scientific American, a healthy dose of nostalgia provides an increase in self esteem, sense of purpose, optimism, and ability to cope with obstacles. However, there's no reason to fixate on the past, neglecting to see that the present could be equally cherished. What are you nostalgic about?
Right now, I can see the gray, almost white clouds blanketing across the sky. Rain droplets are steadily making their way down the glass. I see a large brick and glass dormitory where students have decorated their own windows with smiley faces and short jokes. Lights peek out from the basement of Race Hall. I also see groups of students wearing hoodies and raincoats as they walk to their next class. Many are carrying cups of coffee and umbrellas. Some are riding skateboards or drinking smoothies from Urban. One person is doing both at the same time. Short, skinny, leafy trees stand on guard in front of window blocking of my view. Their leaves are sprinkled with flecks of gold. I can see lamp posts quiet now, waiting for their time to shine. Puddles have started to collect around them. I can see the pale, smooth concrete surface of Drexel's own little part of Race Street. No cars are here to disturb it. Looking across the street, I can see Race Lawn. The green, lush grass is speckled with a few fallen brown leaves. I can see pink and red flowers gently swaying in the chilly breeze as they surround a Drexel directory display. Right now, I wish I could see the ocean waves hitting the soft sand of the beach. I would be able to see bright blue waves piling up before they crashed. I would able to see seagulls gliding around the beach occasionally stopping to waddle on the sand for a bit. They might even swoop down and steal an innocent pedestrian's French fry. The bright blue sky would be calling me with soft, fluffy clouds dancing across. The gentle plants in the sand dunes would be moving in the warm gust. Once in a while, I could see the dorsal fins of a family of dolphins pop up from the waves. I could see a family gently guiding a young child near the water and the child squealing with excitement when their first wave covers their feet. I would see the Ocean City boardwalk spread out below me. Crowds of families holding ice cream cones and Thrasher's French Fries would be happily traveling from one amusement to the next. I would see the colorful tops of beach umbrellas spread out across the sand. Some are patterned, plain, or just promoting the local hotels. I would see young adults playing Frisbee or some beach volleyball. I would see the lifeguards watching over all the people in the water. They would be sitting among the sunbathers with a whistle and rescue buoy at the ready. I would be able to see small airplanes carrying large banners across the sky with messages and promotions for nearly every business in town. I would be able to see small boats carrying groups of cruise-goers steadily across the waves. Speedboats would make their way past carrying the screams of thrill-seekers. There would be the bravest among us flying across the ocean while their bright parasails guide them.
The Paris skyline shined brighter that night. Maybe it was the 2nd glass of the cheapest rose we could find, maybe it was the perfectly timed sparkle of the Eiffel tower reflecting on the buildings in sight from my balcony. I laid back in my chair, put my feet on the railing, loosely gripping the thin stem of my wine glass and listened to the sounds of the Paris nightlife. My roommate Anis, sat on the floor next to me and leaned her head into the night. The stars were covered by clouds but still, I could feel them shining light upon the dimly lit streets below us. A woman lit a cigarette and it seemed to awaken something within Anis as her own hand seemed to drift to her sweatshirt pocket by its own accord, pulling out a thin, messily rolled cigarette and brought it to her mouth. She put her hand back into her pocket, but it came out empty, so I reached into my own and pulled out a light pink lighter and lit it myself as she breathed in. She offered me one, but I don't smoke so I shook my head and she went back to synchronizing her breaths to that of the woman on the street beneath us. Soon enough this woman was gone and our focus was on a man standing by the bus stop. I looked to my phone for the time, frowned, and hoped the man wasn't hoping for a ride. The buses were long parked and the metro now full of the homeless in chrysalis, trying to escape the harsh reality of night. Anis gave me the look, the one you give when you've had a bit too much wine and you've decided that you're going to be a dumb college student for a moment, when you want to let everything go and ignore the fact that it's 3 am on a Wednesday night, ignore the 9 am calculus class you have in the morning, ignore the four missed facetime calls from your parents that you only ignored because your phone is already on low battery and you did have some wine so you weren't sure if any of your sentences that came out were even coherent anymore and because you decided you would text them in the morning that you were tired and wanted a good night's rest before your calc test the next morning. Anis's eyes lit up as she opened her mouth as wide as she could. “Yoohoo!” she laughed, as we do on nights like this, shouting into the great expanse hoping that someone may answer us back. I followed suit, we let our laughter die, and we waited. We waited for something, for anything to shout back and remind us we are not alone. We waited for the stars to come out form the curtain of clouds and put on for us a show. We waited for random historical figures of the 1920s to come out of the shadows like they did in that Owen Wilson movie. We waited… and waited… and waited… and waited for what could have been months days, minutes, mere seconds until the sound of the balcony door opening took us out of our trance. “Hey could one of you guys give me light, I think I left my lighter at school,” my other roommate Rebecca asked, leaning her forearms on the railings. My eyes losing their fog looked up to her blankly, handed her my lighter, and went back to look at the guy by the bus stop. But, just as quickly as our voices faded into the atmosphere, he was gone.
Kaila Morris My Road to U The pursuit of attending my dream school was a challenge I took head on. I never allowed anyone to influence me or to deter me from my goal in any way. I was ready to forge my own path. Being that I was planning a part of my adult life, it was important that I made each decision strictly based on what I thought would be best for me. At least if I were to be in debt and out of a job at the end of the next four years, I might as well have gotten everything I wanted out of them. So, I planned out every step and held myself to it. Though some parts of the process were tiring, like working everyday or filling out the dreaded FAFSA, I forced myself to push through it all to get what I wanted. I've always been a very independent person, and it was important to me that I use that to my advantage to get me through the college process. My wants and needs were, consistently, my number one priority. Early on, I determined exactly what I wanted out of a college. It had to be in a city, have a diverse student body, plenty of study abroad opportunities, and a campus full of kind people. I made the conscious decision that I would not allow anyone to deter me from a choice that didn't fit every one of my criteria. My own stubbornness didn't make this a difficult commitment. I remained steadfast and committed to getting what I wanted. The summer before senior year, I got a small, lined journal. This became my, “college rules book.” I know I can become distracted, so I needed a way to stay on task. I created my own deadlines for essays, meetings, and application updates. Staying on top of my duties gave me the opportunity to take charge of my process. My organization made me push myself by staying goal-orientated. Every day after classes, I would go to the Lower School and work in the afterschool program. No matter how tired I was, or how much I just wanted to take a nap, I knew my work was going directly towards making what I want happen. I worked for three hours, five days a week. Every two weeks I put half of my paycheck into my savings account. Of course things would come up and I would have to use some of my savings, but with each paycheck my savings grew. After some months, I was able to save $200 to pay my own enrollment deposit. For many students, the process of finding a college which they like, applying to those schools, choosing which one they want to attend, then making it happen is daunting. It is much easier to have someone else take on the responsibility. I didn't want that for myself. Neither did I want the sum total of my hard work over the years to go to waste. I wanted nothing more than to make meaningful decisions for my future. I let my own desires guide me to the school I would enjoy the most. I stayed on top of the tasks asked of me, then worked hard to enroll at the school of my dreams. Overall, I feel proud of what I was able to do on my own and make my dreams come to fruition. I am fortunate to be able to enroll in the college of my dreams- Temple University in order to study Journalism. I am passionate about giving a voice to the marginalized, and representing those who find themselves on the peripheral of society's focus. Because of this passion, I want to share the stories which come from the far reaches of this globe. The hands-on experience I will engage in at Temple University impassions me. I know that studying journalism there will prepare me best for my future which is why I so relentlessly pursued that goal. Getting a good education, making connections, and pursuing my dreams will put me in a good position to help those around me
“How did you get that scar?” a curious child asks. She is referring to the “V” shaped scar on the right side of my stomach, just above my hips. While others have commented that the scar is “weird”, I have never found shame in it. “Are you talking about this one?” I ask, just to be sure. She nods. I'm at the pool with kids i'm babysitting, and in my bathing suit, revealing my stomach and scar. The child's question is one that I have been asked my whole life. “I had surgery,” I say. “Because I was born early.” I think about all the babies who are born early, all the anxious parents who spend sleepless months in a hospital, and the hundreds of doctors and nurses who spend countless hours working to ensure that the premature babies continue to breathe. My twin and I were one of those babies. We were born at 24 weeks. When you are just 24 weeks pregnant, your baby is about the size of an ear of corn. Doctors gave her the news that no parent would ever want to hear; “Your twins have only about a 10% chance of survival, and if they do survive, a plethora of severe health problems are likely”. My twin, Kara and I came into this world 4 months early on September 14,1998. Kara weighing 1.06lbs and Me weighing 1.04lbs. Each baby could fit in the palm of their dads hand. Their parents were only allowed to put their fingers into the incubator box to touch Kaylee and Kara. At one point i dropped down to 12oz, the weight of a can of soda. Within two days, sadly and heartbreakingly, the doctors informed my parents that Kara had level four brain bleed leaving her with almost no brain activity. Kara died and my family we able to hold her, love her and say their final goodbyes. Then she became my Guardian Angel. I gave my parents plenty of scares when I would often stop breathing, making my skin turn purplish as well as my heart rate would drop. The sound of alarms going off sent fear through my parents.Several days after my sister passed away, my parents got an early morning phone call and another big scare… Kaylee had ruptured her bowel and needed emergency surgery. The surgeon informed them that I had a 5% chance of making it and that they should prepare for the worst. Family and friends had said their final goodbyes before I went in for surgery and everyone thought that was it, I wasn't going to make it. The doctors also informed my family that if I were to make it, I would be unresponsive, in a wheelchair and have allot of problems my whole life. But, as I always did, I fought through it and survived with no complications . 100 days later, on Christmas Eve, I got released to go home after I had beat insurmountable odds. I do not remember my months in the hospital. I do not remember all the needle pricks that gave me permanent scars along my wrists, ankles, and stomach. I was a baby. Still, today I am grateful for my scars. I am so grateful that I am alive and forever grateful to all of the nurses and doctors who saved my life. My dad has always told everyone “Kaylee is a promise to our friends and family that life does go on…She is our miracle” Being a micro preemie I do still have complications because of the surgeries. I still have scars from the surgeries and IV lines. Being a preemie is the best thing that God could have given me. It gives me a spirit to fight and never stop. It gives me compassion for those going through painful situations. It gives me passion for babies that never get to see the light of day.I want to be a occupational therapist for little kids and babies or a NICU nurse. I know that I can give hope to families of premature babies with my story and working to make miracles happen for them as well. Occupational and physical therapy made me into who i am today. Physical therapy was tough for me but it helped me drastically. If it wasn't for therapy i would be in a wheelchair and unresponsive. I am thankful my parents put me through therapy.
An array of colored stars dance and twinkle on the horizon above the blur of passing cars. There is a low rhythmic hum that stretches out to embrace me and entice me to explore. The air around me buzzes with electric energy as my muse beckons to me off in the distance, calling me back to my creative home. Within her, borders are the ingredients to shape a better future for myself. All of my senses are heightened with anticipation, my heart is racing, and my body is vibrating as if a colony of bees is buzzing on the surface of my skin. She is the only one who can make me feel this way, and her name is Chicago. Within her boundaries, possibilities are waiting on every street and down each alley. Chicago is a vibrant hub of art colleges, museums, and murals. Throughout the city is art in every form. Designers and architects have integrated color into every new development. The South Loop, for instance, has some astonishing displays of the modern art that has been splashed onto her ancient structures creating a harmonious combination of the contemporary and the antique. On the sidewalks surrounding these magnificent structures, sidewalk artists sketch, musicians play, and dancers move to the music of the city. Art flows down every corridor as a series of sound, color, and movement transforming the city into a magical sanctuary for the creative soul. Her skyscrapers and visitors become a living, breathing, abstract painting. In these moments Chicago is a Jackson Pollock masterpiece. On the surface, she is streaks of violent reds, splashes of depressing blacks and hopeful white spattered across her cityscape. At first glance, there appears to be no rhyme or reason to her chaos. Only ugliness, rage and hard, unforgiving surfaces. The mechanical inventions of modern technology eclipse the world beneath. Her buildings tower over her concrete turf, casting shadows on everything in their path. The day is a cacophony of noise, the pungent odor of exhaust and garbage rotting the sun. Above her streets, the clatter of her Amtrak can be heard as it whizzes past. The roar of Chicago can be deafening to the untrained ear. However, to me, they are the Philharmonic playing Beethoven. If one knows how to look and how to listen, they too can hear the music. It is an ongoing concert, and we are all invited. Chicago contains several layers of subcultures and environments, one stacked on top of the other. They are scattered into every corner of the city. The most prominent shifts in the atmosphere occur between dusk and dawn when the sun rises over the buildings and its beams pass over her landscape. One of my favorite neighborhoods to witness the beauty of Chicago's daylight hours is the South Loop. The brick buildings there almost seem to glow as the sun casts its rays on their sand-colored surface. Her windows become glimmering, faceted diamonds, enticing one to come inside. The parks are enchanting when the sun passes over the vibrant green foliage, glittering on the water of the bubbling fountains, illuminating the proud statues and concrete channels. These are not miracles that can be envisioned; they must be seen with the naked eye to be genuinely appreciated. Although the day holds majesty, her evening hours are full of untold tales. There is a fantastical display of pigments and an aura of secrecy. They seduce the artistic soul and fill the mind with the answers to the unspoken questions. At night, Chicago becomes the ultimate muse as she comes to life in a parade of lights and streaks of color. Cars paint the night as they speed through the darkened streets, taillights a blur. The sound of cultures melding together can be heard in the music pouring from the open nightclub doors. Everything reverberates with new energy. In the dark, away from the downtown bustle, that is where her buildings whisper their stories. There is a feeling of quiet contemplation and mystery. Around the shadowy base of her brick structures, one can sense history. Even in photos when her buildings have been captured in silent motion; her ability to inspire is not lost. Even a photo of her can give me hope when there is none and give me the feeling that all things are possible. From her towering architecture to her vibrant art scenes, there is a vast collection of things to stimulate the senses. Chicago is always changing and moving. Her kinetic energy and color palette are what inspire me most. No matter the distance, Chicago reaches out to inspire me once more.
As an high school student, I feel as though it's more important to choose the path of college readiness over career readiness. It's more about finding who you are, and who you want to be in your adulthood. The Washington Post reported in 2014 that “only 27% of college grads have a job related to their major.” Who's to say the career you're preparing for is the one for you? If you get college ready then you'll also be preparing for any career through the process. When building the skills you need for a career. If you're not prepared for college, how can you be prepared to take that job as a nurse, doctor, psychologist or whatever the choice? Going to college will open doors to increased salary potential, better career options, and better chances for personal growth that a person just can't get any other way. Before you can choose a career, oneself will have to know what type of person they are and who they want to be. You have to know your limits, skills and what you specialize in. You have to set goals for yourself, and learn how to accomplish those goals. The college experience helps you find who you are. While being out on your own, you'll become in contact with many different situations where you'll have to decide what's best for you on your own and even if you can't, in college you'll have someone who will help you blossom into who you want to be. In the process of finding who you are, college helps you build the skills necessary for having any job. Such as communication, responsibility, time management, leadership and research. There's even many more skills you'd never know you could gain through your experience. For example, “The first skill that I leveraged on my résumé and in my professional work life was research and data analysis. Every college student has had to research and analyze data at some point in their college career. This skill is used in professional settings to evaluate a multitude of key performance indicators”(Melissa Suzno, 2014). Those skills will help you when applying for jobs, setting up schedules and adjusting to the everyday life as an adult. College will leave an affect on you, you'll never forget. After college, when you begin to take on the world, you'll notice so many things you've learned in college relate to everyday situations. When filling out job applications, so many jobs will look at you and take interest in you just because you have a degree. Most college grads don't have to stress about being unemployed because nowadays it's easier for them to work in many places. Now that they've learned time management, they'll know when they have time to relax and do things such as; working out, visiting friends, etc. You may wonder, “Why go to college? Why not go to trade school.”? Trade schools are beneficial but they offer fewer career options. College graduates that excel in their fields can earn more beneficial long-term income than trade school graduates. I feel as though, trade schools are the easy way out. People go to trade schools because they don't feel like spending money or going to school for a long time. If you are lazy about going to school, who's to say you're not going to be lazy about your career? You have to put in the hard work and spend a little money, to make money. As long as you're staying consistent in high school and on top of your work, earning scholarships for college will be easy for you. It all starts with you. Your future starts with you. No one can tell you how to live, they can only give you advice. Whether you've got your career picked out or not, from middle school to high school. Staying on top of your grades, being in extracurricular activities and many other things will get you noticed. They'll be people telling you go to a trade school to save money, because college isn't worth it or they don't believe you should tie yourself down to one school. It's up to you to believe in yourself, you have to know your worth. Trade schools accept any and everyone, but to get college offers by big colleges and even colleges you never heard of makes you feel like a star. Not only do colleges see potential in you, but if you're a hard worker, they'll pay for you to come to their college. I've made my choice, now it's up to you to decide.
Anyone can become a hero. This provocative philosophy is featured in the popular anime show Boku no Hero (or My Hero Academia, the English version). Yes, this is about an anime show, but no this will not be lame; stick with me and you'll see. The most limited of resources in this world is motivation. Everyone wants to be part of something that's bigger than themselves, but mostly people get stuck settling for a job that just pays the bills. We all dream of being a hero, but it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and mainly failure. Me specifically, my dream since I was young was always to study music. Growing up, the only places I felt wanted or even safe were home and band. I loved band so much I joined choir, then the school musical; but what really changed my life was becoming drum major in my sophomore year of high school. I wanted more than anything to continue to do music for the rest of my life, and so I began to look at going to college for Music Education. Now, for those of you who don't know, auditioning at a music school is rough. There are tons of applicants, you need to perform two contrasting pieces, then you take a piano placement test, then you have to take a theory test, then you have to take a different theory test out loud during your audition, then you have to do an interview. There were two main problems here; One: I had never taken theory in my life. I knew nothing about it at all because my high school had such a small music department. Two: I had (and have) been diagnosed with severe generalized anxiety disorder, so auditions were my worst nightmare. I started auditioning anyway in my senior year of high school. I got so nervous before my first audition that I physically couldn't eat for a week prior, because my anxiety had manifested as severe stomach pain. After that audition, I did five more and they became easier with each one. I checked the mail every single day, praying for an acceptance letter. I didn't make it. None of the music schools accepted me. Most of it was that I had no theory knowledge and didn't know how to play piano. One school said that I was vocally inadequate on top of all that. With no idea what to do next, I applied to a nearby community college. I was then faced with a dilemma; was I going to ignore my embarrassment and re-apply for the schools that I had been shunted by (all of which I would have to work extremely hard to afford), or was I going to stay at community college and find a new career? I gave myself half of a year to decide, which turned out to be the best decision I've ever made. During that time, I learned a lot. I learned the value of a work ethic, I learned a little bit about how to play piano, I learned to balance work and school, and most importantly, I learned what really good friends look like. These friends would be really instrumental (pun intended) in bringing back my musical confidence. I met Grace on the first day of school, and though it took a while, we eventually became really close. One day at the beginning of my second semester, Grace invited me to her ceramics club. There I met Andrew, who quickly became one of my best friends. Andrew was really into anime, and I was kind of casually into it, so we would hang out a lot and binge watch different series until eventually he convinced me to watch Boku no Hero (now we're coming full circle). This was around the end of the deadline I had given myself, and I was still undecided. I wanted to try again, but I honestly didn't believe that I was good enough. I had never gotten any solos or lead roles in high school, I had never been very good, I had always been on the more administrative side of things. I had always worked hard to get were I was, rather than getting there by being talented and I considered that a huge flaw. Boku no Hero saved me from that type of thinking. It's the story about a young boy named Deku in a world where being a superhero is a legitimate career and everyone has superpowers, except for him. Deku, despite being powerless, runs to save his childhood bully when he is in danger and catches the eye of the number one hero, All Might. On his way home afterwards , All might stops Deku and tells him that "You can become a hero". Spoiler alert: Deku becomes the number one hero, and not because of natural talent, but because he works harder than anyone. I decided to try out for the one school I hadn't auditioned for; Millersville University. I prepared for weeks with the help of my friends, and I found out a week later that I had been accepted! I was making my dreams come true, instead of waiting for them to come true. Later that month I got a tattoo to commemorate my new found pride in my work ethic: the sun that can be scene when All Might tells Deku that he, too, can be a hero. I got the tattoo to remind me that I can always work harder. Now, a year later, I'm studying Music Education, and doing well at it, and I have never been happier.
“You see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand.” -Stephen Chbosky I have this favorite book by Stephen Chbosky entitled ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower'. He talked me out of how great it is to be a flower that blooms secretly on the side and not being plucked out because you are not getting noticed. He made me feel superior in that position where I could just get to see the other flowers being taken care of or being torn out, in another sense. Is that really it? I, in reality, see myself as a wallflower. I am proud myself going to campus, going to social events, going to various places and having people around me. I can actually converse with people and engage in normal conversation, such as, talking about exams, talking about our professors, talking about those new controversial couples in the department, or even talking about the shoes sale in the nearest department store. Nonetheless, in all cases, there is a part of me that hides, like a personality that wants to fly out, the ‘social butterfly'. I envy those people who are loud and vocal, can say whatever they want to say and can deal with arguments without feeling bad. Sad to say, I cannot do that, I am tied to the complimentary words and, with all the nodding and smiling. It feels like, I just always need to agree. I am afraid to hurt others' feelings. I am afraid they will hate me. I am afraid to feel alone, so I believe it will be better to hide the other side of me. I envy those people who can be friends with people whom they just met without being nervous and awkward. I am wondering where they get their charismatic personalities to attract numerous people in their life. Personally, it takes me years to be considered a person as a friend. I find it hard to consider a person as a friend whom I just see in the department, in the organization's meetings, at family reunions or even my roommate in just one semester. I envy those people who always have the energy to socialize without feeling tired. For myself, I feel so exhausted after talking to a few people in just a day or talking in front for a project presentation. I view myself as a battery that is being consumed for talking or even facing up people. My comfort zone is on the walls. I feel contented but restrained in that position. There are just so many words I want to say and so many things I want to do but believe they are not for me. I am attached to the wall and the struggling part is that I cannot get out of it.
It started as a normal day. I was working in the library and reached up to put a book on a high shelf. That was when I left the first jab of pain in my side. I was in so much pain that my boss made me go to the emergency room. I went in and laid on a hospital bed, no one came in to see me for a long time. After a while the pain finally went away, the doctor said he couldn't find anything wrong and sent me home. I never told my father I had gone to the emergency room, I just shrugged it off after the pain went away. I had just graduated high school and my dad and I had planned a trip to drive from my home town in Los Alamos, New Mexico up to my new college in Spokane, Washington. I was so disconnected from my body that I didn't even think about the fact that I had been to the emergency room just the day before. I did most of the driving and the pain slowly began to creep back up. By the time we got to Oregon I could barely breath. This was when the pain started and never stopped, and still hasn't after 13 years. My dad was concerned but I didn't tell him the full extent of my pain. He suggested I get a massage while we were in Portland. I had never had a massage before and neither of us had much knowledge of them. I received a deep tissue massage and the pain only got worse. I couldn't drive anymore and I couldn't sleep, the pain was so intense that I could barely think. We got to Eastern Washington University, my new soon to be college and home and I couldn't enjoy it. I tried to walk around the campus and explore, but I was too distracted by my pain. I went back home and sought medical attention. I went to a chiropractor and had x-rays taken. I was told that one of my ribs was misplaced which was causing the pain. I got adjustments and went to physical therapy. The pain persisted. I had planned to work full time at the library during the summer to help save money before I left for college in September. I had no choice now but to quit my job of three years because the physical demand was too much for me. I had planned on driving up to Washington with my car so that I could have it while I was at school, but that was out of the question now after my first trip. I had to fly to up to Washington and take as much as I could in one suitcase. I got school and my entire life was different. I was in a completely new state, a new town and new school where I knew no one. I did the best I could in my classes, but the pain was always in the back of my mind. I had planned to work while I was in school, but it was difficult finding a job that did not require a lot of physical demands that was still flexible. My money started to run out and I knew I had to find work that would not hurt my body further. I ended up getting a job as an Alumni Associate. I took donations from Alumni of the University, it was a difficult job for me, mainly because I was not a sales person and I was not good at persuading people, and again my mind was always on my pain. I joined the gym and took exercise classes but nothing took the pain away. When I got brave enough I went someone in town for another massage. When I described what was going on my massage therapist told me that I might have something called Fibromyalgia. I went to the hospital and they confirmed his theory with the trigger point test. Since then I have labelled myself as having Fibromyalgia, I don't know if it's better or worse with my condition having a name. The doctor prescribed me Lyrica, and sleep medication, none of which really worked for me, in fact it just increased my depression and anxiety instead of helping with my pain. I also didn't want to constantly take over the counter pain medication since it wasn't really helping either. So I resolved to not take anything and simply deal with it as it was. About the third time I went back to the same massage therapist was the miraculous massage that cured my pain. I was finally okay again. I was pain free for all of a month. Then I went back home for winter break to visit my dad. We were out in a parking lot and I slipped on some ice, the pain came back all at once. I tried to go back to the same therapist, but he was never able to take the pain away again. It has been there ever since. It has been so long now since I have had this pain that I can't remember what it is like to not have it. It has been 13 years now and I have never found a cure no matter how hard I try. I feel like there must be a reason for all of my pain. I hope that I am meant to do something important with the knowledge and insight my pain has given me. Even though I have not found a cure for my pain, I hope that I am able to help others in some way and make a difference in peoples lives by telling my story and doing everything I can to discover a cure for chronic pain and Fibromyalgia and once I do that and I am able to heal myself I will be able to help others heal as well.
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