As I sit in the front seat of a fast-moving schoolvan, I take a deep breath and ask myself, What is truly unique about me? How doesthat individuality affect the world? With a full bladder, I stew over thissoul-searching I was aware instantly that I had been changed. My body wasparalyzed with excitement and my eyes frozen with amazement as I focused on theobjects in front of me.
It is rare that an experience so powerful occursat age three, but my path in life was chosen before I could tie my own shoes. Myfirst jaunt to the theater is something that has affected my views and life ingeneral profoundly.
Even at three I was a fan of performing, albeit onlyin front of my fireplace. By this time I was a seasoned musical aficionado,having worn out my "Annie" videotape. After approximately thenine-hundredth viewing of the lovable orphan's story, it seemed time for a newshow. The theater gods obviously agreed, as they sent the musical"CATS" to Boston at just the right time.
Dressed in bright whitetights and shiny black shoes, I remember anxiously walking up the crowded stairsto the mezzanine. As my family and I filed into our first-row seats, I could feelthe excitement building. I recall leaning over the banister so far I nearly fellonto the unsuspecting patrons below. The atmosphere captivated me. I was inlove.
The orchestra started playing and the lights dimmed until we sat indarkness. I watched attentively as one by one the cats came out and froze inuncomfortable looking positions. I was utterly amazed at how still they were.When all the actors had assembled on stage, the singing began, and for the nexttwo hours I was in a daze. I marveled over Jenny Anydots and her team oftap-dancing beetles. I oohed and ahhhed at Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer'sacrobatic antics, and I thoroughly enjoyed the inventive train the cats madeduring "Skimbleshanks." In three-year-old fashion, however, I longedfor Old Deuteronomy's ballad to cease, and the more entertaining songs torecommence.
As the actors took their bows, I cheered and clapped until thelast cat had left the stage. As the theater became illuminated and people beganto exit, I started to cry. I was entirely willing to stay for the next show, butmy family did not share my enthusiasm.
After that there was no turningback. My first instinct was to join the cast of "CATS." I would sit infront of my mirror in odd positions for what seemed hours in order to prepare formy stage debut.
I outgrew my desire to be a cat, but never my desire to bein that world of cats, ballerinas and make-believe. Now that the curtain iscoming down on Scene One of my life, I can see how important theater has been.That first experience opened my eyes to the reality that this world is made up ofsmaller worlds, including my favorite, the world of theater. I will be forevergrateful to "CATS" for being my introduction to the arts, and Ianticipate greatness as I search for a room to rent in that world of theater Iknow I am destined to be a part of. - question. Well, hablo español andspriche sie Deutsch. Then again, so do others in search of an InternationalBusiness Degree. Umm, I vociferously abide by the statement, "Communityservice fills the soul." Yes, but thousands of other college-bound studentsalso put a high value on that platitude. Unique? I envision myself as ambitious,yet social. Others see me as responsible, but overloaded. Teachers view me aspolitical, though "artsy." Perhaps I am comparable to a Shredded MiniWheat - sweet, rebellious on one side, and adult, whole-grain goodness on theother. My list of activities is not necessarily what defines me as an individual.The memories, lessons and interests from my involvements are, I believe, whatdefine me as one of a kind. Besides, who answers the question of Why am I unique?on a full bladder?
It is a well-developed ability of mine to swim in theRiver of Activity. Student Council, National Forensic League, and National HonorSociety require the Butterfly stroke. Creative juices flow as I swim theFreestyle in One-Act Play and Speech Team. Math Team and Golf Team - definitelythe Backstroke. This metaphor may make obvious the fact that I was once acompetitive swimmer, as well as the fact that I have a diverse range ofinterests. I love swimming with new and interesting fish. Sometimes, I join anactivity or attend a convention simply because I want to expand my horizons. Itmay sound trite, but my curiosity is the most genuine part of mypersonality.
Tenth grade was my first year as Student CouncilRepresentative, and Stephanie (long-time friend and council member) and I share agreat memory as Salvation Army bell-ringers during the holiday season. Asspirited sophomores, we stood in the entrance of K-Mart and serenaded thecustomers. Our song list was pretty extensive; whatever jingle we didn't know thewords to, we remedied with an abundance of humming, Santa hats and smiles.Without any shame, I admit my singing voice is terrible. In fact, when I signedup for chorus this year, I was politely advised to take an art class. When Ithink back, I remember a few people who looked at us like we were off our sleigh.Maybe we were. However, the majority of shoppers enjoyed our gratis concert andmade generous contributions.
Our nation's capitalistic agenda sometimesconceals the true meaning of the holidays. Instead of friendship and family, weget wrapped up in this season's Ticklish Thomas or Potty Polly. If ever I getmaterialistically concerned, I can't let myself forget that there are familieswho can't afford to buy a turkey for their holiday. Maybe my out-of-tune singingwon't bring enough money to feed the world, but my hometown is a goodstart.
It is always a compliment when my friends remind me, "Nicole,you are a nerd." I plead guilty; a great deal of my life is consumed byacademic institutions - class, homework, class, extracurricular activities,class, thinking time, class, breathing time - you get the idea. The presence ofsocial skills may not make me the number-one nerd candidate; still, I strive tokeep up my studious reputation. In the summer, I extend my nerd network by makingnew friends at leadership seminars and business camp. When I miss a day ofschool, it is not to play hooky, but to play "Senator Soboleski" or adelegate at Model United Nations. Yes, I do sometimes live a life ofrebellion.
My busy, yet structured, lifestyle has paved the way to mygoals and future plans. Thankfully, gifts of spontaneity and zany friends havehelped retain my sanity that has allowed for my dedication to projects for thebenefit of my peers. Last year, I wrote a speech about teenage suicide. It was mymeans to reach the public about the dangers of depression. With startlingstatistics, actual stories and methods of prevention, more teens are now aware ofyouth suicide. Through my time of trial, and in times of smooth sailing, I mustalways remember my role as a youth ambassador.
In between all my futuregoals, I would also like to publish a book. I already have specific plans. Duringa summer break, I will join a carnival. The plan gets more complex. It will be mymission to infiltrate the world of kiddy rides and dart games to understand, at apersonal level, what it is like to be on the other side of the ticket booth.Despite the fact that people can be quick to judge carnival workers, I haverespect for them, and an interest in their lifestyle. I can visualize myselftouring the country and learning the secret language of the carnival. My goal isthat this best-selling novel, titled Tilt-A-Whirl Toils: An In-Depth Look At theWorld of the Carnival, will awaken people to the realization that we are allhuman beings. Not one person has the prerogative to talk down to anyoneelse.
The memories I will carry through my life, my personality and mybizarre combination of future plans make me the individual I am. Even if myresume looks similar to other applicants, at the top is the name of a girl uniquefrom the herd, "Nicole Breanne S."
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.