Breaking Gates

May 3, 2009
By
Unafraid, blatant expression. Free. That’s how I felt in sixth grade as I toted my marble composition notebook from its proudly displayed place on my desk to the dusty domain of the playground. I was willing to show anyone and everyone my sketches of the worlds that transcended my mind through my pencil. While I dabbled in fantastic universes where heroines commanded armies and coffee shops, one fabricated land has never left the grammar school-sized pieces of my heart: Laquafiniti. However, this tropical island inhabited by Laquas, who swam in lakes with webbed feet, remains overshadowed by the blue-haired, rebellious princess whom I named Shakira (with complete ignorance of the pop star singer). Although I have always denied that my characters were reflections of myself, I admit now that Shakira and I share the same search for a stronger sense of identity.
Shakira embodies a spirit of adventure that I felt within me, that was and still is longing to break from a set of expectations. Neither of us can pretend to play our expected role if it conflicts with the essence of who we are. Just as Shakira couldn’t be pinned by her hereditary standards of royalty, I cannot conform to the mindless qualifications of a modern-day teenager. Beer pong? Romantic comedies? Reality TV? I cannot pretend to be enthralled with fake, senseless pastimes. My ideas of romance and tragedy align with the Brontë sisters’ literature, with Coldplay’s lyrics, with Rent’s summation of humanity: the truths of being.

In challenging conformity, Shakira and I challenge our own limitations. We are both willing to break from our comfort zones in order to discover life’s opportunities beyond our borders. As a princess, Shakira was forbidden to explore beyond the palace gates and obliged to accept her duty without question. Only by transgressing those barriers was she able to gain a perspective of her true potential to effect change as a princess. In order to find my purpose in the world, I welcome diverse perspectives and appreciate differences of opinion. I approach any challenge with an open mind, and I’m not ashamed to change my mind if my sentiments change.

Shakira and I are willing to dive into the unknown because we are invigorated to learn. We are invigorated by the challenge to step outside of ourselves because we are in awe of the world and desire to fulfill our place in it. Whenever I feel lost, I explore my sketchbooks to rediscover the passionate, relentless part of me that depicted imaginary worlds in order to find where I belonged in the real one. Even though Shakira’s story retired as my daily accessory, her sense of adventure and defiance has never left my mind. I long to break through the gates of my high school life and discover my true identity in the scope of the world. Columbia holds that promise of freedom and discovery that Laquafiniti held for Shakira.





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