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The Initial Temperature Shock

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The water appeared crystalline and ice-cold the first time I readied myself to jump off the high dive. I knew I wouldn’t die, yet an intangible force restrained me until I closed my eyes, bent my knees, propelled myself off the board, and cut through the surface. The no man’s land between the board and the water was behind me.

In middle school, I was the girl who walked through the halls with her eyes facing the floor, who hesitated to speak in class out of fear of being noticed. I once believed myself unlikely to join a club, let alone lead one, and couldn’t imagine speaking on stage or introducing myself to a stranger. I’ve come a long way since then, and my motto is, "If you think you can't do something, prove yourself wrong." Ever since I realized the most challenging experiences can also be the most worthwhile, I have set out to prove I can do what I once believed myself incapable of accomplishing. Each ice-cold pool is an experience I now embrace.

The path of my journey toward finding my voice was paved with printer paper. When I joined my school newspaper in 10th grade, I learned that investigating my school’s goings-on required me to be inquisitive, outgoing, and constantly aware of my surroundings. I discovered an entirely new dimension of Friends Academy. Who would have known that my teachers had such unique views on the environment, or that the school psychologist had so much insight into the social scene? I did more investigating this summer, when my print and photojournalism classes required me to approach and interview people—often complete strangers—whom I would not have otherwise gotten to know. I even spent an hour one day in a shoe store, documenting a salesman’s life through photography. Throughout these experiences, I learned not only about the topics of my articles, but also that, if I opened my eyes just a little wider, countless perspective-altering interactions awaited me.

This confidence has led me to openly question what I learn in class as well. The curious toddler in me lives on, but she now has a voice. My favorite question is “Why?” because it has the power to get to the essence, the true meaning, and the origin of everything. I have known for some time that you can’t divide by zero, that metals lose electrons, and that the ancient Greeks founded democracy, but why? When I discover the answer, it’s almost never what I expected. Each answer opens a new door leading to a room of “whys” and “why nots,” and then another, and another, until I am several doors closer in my life-long expedition toward truth.

Now, “why” is my guide as I constantly dive into new explorations and adventures. Why don’t we “be the change we want to see in the world,” and how can we? Why is passive resistance more effective than violence? Why are there so few women in politics? These kinds of questions have compelled me to donate blood, try out for school plays, enter artwork in exhibitions, travel to South America, and read original poems for audiences. Each “interview” with life brings me closer to understanding the answers to my questions. I know that the greatest treasures lie at the bottom of the deep end, and that life’s most fulfilling moments take place out of my comfort zone, off the diving board, and only because of each gigantic leap of faith. My next leap will be college, and I feel excited and extremely well prepared to dive off, cut through that no man’s land, and triumph over the initial temperature shock.





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