Balloon Girl This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

I am just a word, a black-and-white sketch inked onto a napkin. Three syllables, slips out nicely. You have already associated me with someone you know with the same name, looked me up on Instagram, pressed me into two dimensions. Your preconceived notion of who I am has already solidified. But is your opinion of me correct?


I've come to realize that no one can be defined by a single community. As outsiders, we often think in absolutes. We peer out into the frosted stained glass windows of a community we're not part of and see a distorted image of wholeness and belonging. Really, what lies outside is a jumble of identities.


You, an American, see me as Swiss, but am I? Whenever we go to Switzerland, I feel inadequate because of my Americanness, my mom's broken German, my not-so-chic clothes. However, in America, I am embarrassed to have a dad with an accent, to appear stuck-up because I'm from the land of watches, chocolate, and ski resorts for wealthy diplomats.


I do feel Swiss, just not quite as Swiss as i'd like to feel; I do feel American, just not as American as I'd like to feel.


I am torn between two nationalities, but also between so much more: between my love of music and my love of the environment, between the abstract and the logical.


Do you dare take the double integral of me, capturing me in the third dimension? Dare, and you will be surprised.






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