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My Epiphany: I Belong This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

There's this picture of three of my friends: one on the left, one in the middle, and one on the right. It's not an amazing picture, but there was something that captured my attention, something different. I put the picture in black and white, because black and white photos always seem to make things more meaningful. Each girl in the picture is beautiful and unique, but that's not what made me look at it longer than the others.

There's a space separating one from the other two. It was the gap that I had left, jumping up to take the picture. Our other friend had wandered off to sit by the fountain, and there was space for her too. Along with that space, each girl's expression is different: one is smiling at the camera, one with her head turned, staring into the distance, while the other looks serious as she stares right above my head. It's a candid shot; one of the best kinds of pictures because it catches people as they really are. So after studying the photo more, and after making these observations, something came to me. An epiphany of some sort.

As my college move-in day grows closer, I have become more anxious, as have many others, despite what they say. I'm fairly confident that I'll succeed; as I've come to know myself these past eighteen years, I know that I accept nothing less than that. The uneasiness in my stomach stems from the fear of being forgotten. I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to go from a place where I feel somewhat significant into a place where I'm... well, not. Like many others, I'm leaving behind a tight-knit family, good friends, and a best friend I've seen almost everyday for seven years.

It doesn't get more terrifying than that, and after I've moved a few different times in my life, you think I'd be used to it by now. I've been thinking about this for many many days now, and I just accepted the fact that I'd keep worrying about it forever, the dilemma of trying to find my place in the world.

Until today, when I spent a gorgeous August afternoon with some of the greatest people I've had the fortune of coming across in my life. The sky was that perfect summer blue, the clouds puffy and white, and the vibrant grass soft and lush beneath my toes. The park was decorated by the sound of our laughter, and our smiles were competing with the sun, yet there was a melancholy scent that perfumed the air, as we all knew that this would be the last time we would get together until Christmas break; we were either going off to college, or back for another year of high school.

And then the camera came out, and we took pictures together; a tangible piece of evidence attesting to the day we'd had and, more importantly, our friendship. We talked and reminisced, and then, inevitably, the end came, and we all had to go.

And that's where I sit now, reviewing each photo until I come across the one with the gap. And after contemplating it's strange interest to me, I've become enlightened and at peace with myself. My epiphany is this: no matter where I go, I always belong somewhere. I have a supportive family where I will always be received with love and safety, no matter where I am. And, looking at this picture, I belong here, too, with four other girls that have left room for me, not trying to replace or forget me. That no matter what becomes of us, even though we are different and apart, we will always have the few similarities that bond us together. It is in this that I find solace. In this picture, the moment is frozen in black and white with an empty space. In my mind, however, I can go back to this day, and imagine myself setting the self-timer for the next shot, and with a smile on my face, I'll run back into the space that my friends have left for me, unchanging and always open. I'll return to the spot where I'll always belong. Click.



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