I am a Gator but I offer nothing in the way of extenuating circumstances except the fact that I am the only Gator who knows not only the name of the football stadium but also that of the library, the roads, and all on campus restaurants.
I know the very day I became a Gator. I was born with orange and blue blood, the result of being the offspring of two prior Gators, in Parkland Florida. It is a city composed of alumni and hopefuls of the three major sunshine state powerhouses. The only other fans often resulted from those who moved from New York at a young age.
Committing to a single college was blasphemous to most other students, but it was a blessing in my eyes. Not only was I sure of my commitment to the University of Florida, I made sure everyone else was also aware. I had no problem boasting to peers “It’s great to be a Florida Gator” which often generated a fair amount of prideful discussion or argument depending on the opposers own loyalties. Regardless, it’s clear that I am “the number one Gator fan”, and I hope the University of Florida admissions office will take notice.
But changes came when I turned fifteen, and I was herded into the local high school. I left middle school as a kid just waiting out his days until he made it to the Promised Land in Gainesville, when I entered the dreary halls of Stoneman Douglas I realized it wouldn’t be that simple, I would have to earn it. I was now one of the millions of highshool students, with a blank slate.
But I am not tragically a Gator. There is no higher power condemning me to this certain life choice, nor family force that pushes me down this path. They do not mind at all. I am not one of the children who’s lives have been prewritten by a helicopter mom, with all the necessary steps to becoming a lawyer. Even in the pressure cooker that is my life, I have seen I am the only one who can make the decisions. No, I do not mold to the form that others see fit – I am too busy creating my own world.
Someone always feels it a necessity to remind me that I am the direct lineage of two Gators before myself, and the sibling of two more. It fails to stir angst in my body. The lives of my parents and sisters is that of their own, and they have succeeded on their own. I have been given all the tools I need to succeed on my own, and no one has had such a chance to create a bright future, as I have had. It’s definitely nerve racking to know that every test I take and office I run for has the potential to decide my future. The fact that everyone knows my ultimate goal, has brought the speculation of others into my own decisions.
I do not always feel the pressure of being a Gator-to-be. When I’m with my friends, or watching TV, it does not affect my life. It is only when in places that offer the chance to add a line to my résumé do I feel the burden.
For instance, when taking my SATs, I can hear the alma mater playing in the backs of my mind and feel the pulse of the Rowdy Reptiles running through my veins. The pressure of my future ambitions is certainly felt during these vital tests, however I am still me.
Sometimes it is the other way around. When I’m surrounded by others who belong to the Gator Nation, but within is a treasonous Seminole. For example, I went to the annual UF versus FSU football game a few years back in the Swamp, surrounded by Gator faithful but unfortunately situated near a Seminole. When the boys in blue break the plane of the end zone the place erupted. In one moment, the 85,000 individuals become one chaotic crowd. The band played our fight song, and together we join, picking up with intensity as our excitement is exemplified in one another. I chant at a deafening sound level; jumping up and down as if the excitement is a beast trying to escape the realm of my body; my open palms meet at the center of my torso to form the mighty Gator Chomp. Under my eyes are strips of blue face paint. My heart is beating like the drums of the band. And the energy is tangible, I want to be on the field, helmet strapped to my chin and laying out the enemy cloaked in maroon and gold. Time has little meaning, but eventually the music from the band concludes, the fans take in some air as they lower down onto the bleacher, and I find my seat near the disappointed Seminole fan.
“You guys sure make a lot of noise” he remarks in a slightly sarcastic tone.
Noise! The energy pulsing through the crowd completely evaded him. He had only seen what I had been a part of. He was a lost traveler in a foreign country, one where many cultural boundaries set thick barricades between the two of us. He is so lost with his Indian pride and I am a complete Gator.
At certain times I am not a Gator, I am me. I have no separate ambitions about attending the University of Florida, and having a successful life. It is merely one of many stepping-stones that will come to define my journey.
Sometimes, I feel nothing where others feel the freedom of choosing where the next stage of their lives will take place. But how can they choose a better choice then the place I will call home! It’s beyond me.
But in the main, I feel like I’m nothing more then a list of accomplishments in an endless stack of others. In the pile where our future is determined, a high GPA, a jsclub leadership role, a shining recommendation from a person of power, and fabricated successes and exaggerated feats, lay waiting to be dissected. When all the special situations and extraneous circumstances are considered, who is to say that one is more deserving then the other? When one works without sleep, and another relies on a lucky genetic makeup, why should the latter get the privilege of an education? Perhaps, the entire idea is a hoax with little determination on the overall pleasure found in ones life --- who knows?