Who Am I....Really?

December 28, 2009
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This is your chance to show colleges who you really are,” my counselor told me. He was talking about the application essay. To most, this would not appear to be an emotional subject, but to me it was the accumulation everything I feared. I had no idea who I was. All I knew was I wanted to be different; I wanted everything to be different. I left his office with misty eyes, and a familiar tug in my chest. I knew that this infamous college essay was going to be difficult to compose. To write it, I would have to at least make an attempt to answer life’s fundamental question: Who am I, really?
I have been so many things during my seventeen years of life, but not one of them have defined me completely. I have been the girl who comes from a broken home, the girl whose parents fight every single day, the girl whose parents separated. I have been the girl whose dad is sick. I have been the girl who didn’t belong, the girl with an edge.
After years of listening to fights, sometimes joining them, and crying myself to sleep every night, my parents finally separated. It was then, when my life seemed to be going back to a (somewhat) normal state, when I found out that my father had a very severe strain of multiple sclerosis. Every time I saw him over the next few years, which wasn’t much, he got worse and worse. I wanted to be there for him, but he wasn’t the same man I remembered from my childhood. He was different. He’d changed.
As a result of all that had happened to me, I developed a pattern. I wouldn’t ever let myself get close enough to anyone to get hurt. It was safer that way. Every day I faked a smile and pretended that I was okay, so that no one would ever know. So that no one could ever give me “the look” again. You know the one: A subtle cock of the head, lips pulled tightly together, and eyes drooped with pity. I guess I figured that if I hid everything from everyone, I would somehow be able to live a normal life. I couldn’t turn to my friends. Their lives were so normal, their families so happy. I didn’t want to ruin it.
It wasn’t until a couple of months ago that I discovered my life was a blessing and not a curse. I finally realized that having so many problems didn’t weaken me, it made me stronger. Now, I’m prepared for anything that comes my way. I know that things change and that everything isn’t always perfect. I had lost a family, but I had gained resilience. Now, every day, I work harder to make sure that I experience as many different things as I possibly can. I want to make my life worth something. I want to make a difference. I’m finally free.
So, I still have no idea who I am, but that’s what the college experience is all about, right?

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