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Being Your Own
She knew what she had done as soon as she had closed the door. Julie couldn’t believe that she had done it. She had had an exceptional grade point average in high school, but wanting to fit in at college had caused her marks to drop drastically. Julie had a huge exam coming up, and she had missed so many classes because of all of the challenges that belonging to a sorority had brought. She needed to pass this exam to be able to continue and to belong to the sorority. All she wanted was to be as popular as she had been while she was still back in Kansas and to have good grades. Her parents would be so disappointed in her if they knew. Gordon had told her the easiest ways to be able to cheat and pass the exam without getting caught. The plan sounded so flawless that she couldn’t help but think that it would work. Following Gordon’s instructions about getting into the computer system, she copied the exam. While she couldn’t believe it had worked without a hitch, she also couldn’t ignore the pang of guilt that she felt. The exam was in three days, just enough time to write out all of the answers and study. She couldn’t believe that she was this pathetic but she was desperate and willing to do anything to fit in.
The night before had been the last hazing of the week, and she had passed the challenge without any problems. Now Julie walked through the hall on her way to the exam room, her hands shaking. She had studied long and hard the past three days, making sure that she knew all of the answers. She sat down at her desk, looking over her shoulders at everyone around her. She felt as though each and every one of them knew that she had cheated. Gordon saw her from across the room and gave her a thumbs up sign. This should have been a hazing challenge, if I can do it, and not get caught, everyone else can, right?
But despite Gordon’s confident look, and the fact that she knew all of the answers, she couldn’t shake the feeling of having cheated. She had never cheated on anything, ever. And now she was just doing it to be popular. What was wrong with her? She couldn’t do this! She looked at Gordon again, throwing him a look of panic. His eyes told her to “calm down, she’d studied, so she’d do fine.”
I can’t believe that I’m doing this. Her professor started to hand out the exams. “It’s good to see you here today, Julie. All the best.”
She did her best to smile back at him, but she still couldn’t shake her guilt. If I get caught, I’ll get expelled! Why on earth am I still sitting here?
Julie looked down at her exam and realized that it was nothing like the one that she had taken. She threw a panicked looked at Gordon, who was in the same boat as she was. Her professor must have known that someone had copied the test. She let out a frustrated sigh. She leafed through the test and realized that she still knew most of the answers. So studying for the wrong exam still helped. Now I don’t have to worry about failing or about cheating. Julie decided right then and there that she was not going to be part of the sorority. School was too important to her and her parents were proud of everything she had done so far. Cheating on an exam just to impress people and doing stupid things just to belong to a group was ridiculous. She decided that once she had finished her exam she was going to search for a new place to live, pack up her stuff and leave the sorority. Enough was enough. She was here to further her own education. She was here for herself, not for anyone else, and nothing anyone was going to say or do would change her mind.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Julie marched over to the sorority house to pack up her stuff. She was determined to not be made fun of, or change her mind. Tiffany looked at her as she walked up the stairs. “And just what do you think you’re doing?”
Julie turned around, taking a deep breath to control her temper “Moving out.”
Tiffany scoffed and said, “Moving out? Ha, and where do you think you’re going to go?”
Julie smiled and said, “To a place that people accept me for who I am.”
Julie winced as she heard Tiffany’s shrill laugh. “If you don’t live here, no one will accept you.”
Julie wasn’t about to take that or go down without at fight. “I need to focus on my school work. Being here is a waste of my time, money and talents, and I don’t need people like you to tell me how to be.” And with that she continued her march up the stairs.
She heard Tiffany call Rebecca and tell her what was going on. She could almost picture their faces as they mocked her and decided what they would do with her. She packed as quickly as she could.
After the exam, Julie had gone out to find a place to life. She had found a new dorm near the library, with a really nice and quiet girl named Emily. Julie wasn’t worried about leaving, but she was worried about the kind of consequences she might have to endure. She gave her head a quick shake, I don’t care, its not about impressing them, its about me. I don’t need them to tell me who to be. She packed the rest of her things and headed back downstairs, thankful that neither Tiffany nor Rebecca was around. Julie had been smart enough not to tell Tiffany where she was going, so she would be safe from them for a while.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Everything was going well for Julie. She had scored a ninety on her exam and was relieved that she didn’t have to worry about getting caught for cheating. Her new roommate, Emily, was awesome, and Julie was now more focused on getting good grades than on her social life. None of the girls from the sorority had said anything to her, but had just left her alone. Julie had confided in Emily about her cheating and had told her how everything had worked out. Emily encouraged her to go to the student counselor and tell her everything that had happened. Julie was nervous and afraid of what might happen, but she knew that it was important to tell the truth. After she had explained the situation to the counselor, she apologized for being so stupid. Her counselor said that it was obvious that she had learned her lesson, and was very pleased that she had come forward and confessed.
Julie was thankful that she had realized the importance of being your own person and how much satisfaction you got out of actually working to earn what you get.