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My Favorite Self This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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There have been and will be many versions of me. But I’m my very favorite self around you. I was in fifth grade when I met you; the end of an era for me, but a new beginning for you. The next year I’d be at a new school, and this was your very first year at our school. The miraculous coincidence that those years overlapped for us is a fact I marvel at daily. God gave us a gift in that one year. My first impression of you was neutral but guarded; you’ve said the same about me. Now five years later, we call ourselves sisters. The first day I came into your classroom after school, we talked about nothing in particular; but it wasn’t what we talked about; it was that you talked with me. Maybe it was just your nature to be politely interested in children, or maybe it was just my lucky day. I’ll never know.
I do know that I kept coming back. I visited you every day after school. I followed you around and I idolized you. You were so funny, and so incredibly cool. As a ten-year-old, I couldn’t help but be impressed by such a calm and collected twenty-something. We chatted every day after school while I scribbled math homework in pencil and you graded papers with purple pen. I was such an open book back then; I told you everything with no regrets. You were interested and you freely and generously gave good advice. On Wednesdays when you had staff meetings I would still sit on the floor of your classroom to do my homework; I was a permanent fixture there from three to four-thirty every day. That was the year we developed our special Aladdin-style sign off. Time passed; school went out. We sent letters to each other during the summer. I couldn’t believe that someone as successful and amazing as you would be willing to and actually enjoy writing letters to an obnoxious ten-year-old; but you did, or at least you said you did.
I began sixth grade after that. New school, new everything. I thought it was a new me. I felt so much different in a big school with 300 other kids in my grade, compared to being in a class of five to ten back in elementary school, but when I visited you, I felt like my old self. My better self. My happier, less stressed, open-book self. I had become a little different at the middle school; I was much quieter, more reserved, and extremely angry. I felt full of pointless and aimless rage. I was upset at being uprooted so soon, from all the people and friends and places and routines that I knew and loved so very, very much. However, I was still an open book to you; you heard about everything. You followed me through my first crushes. You smiled when I left you messages on your answering machine. I felt like we were becoming good friends; even though I knew you probably still thought I was just some little weirdo. You came to see me in the play; you talked me through everything. I asked you everyday how your day was, as is our tradition. You would keep me up to date on everything I was missing so dearly. You kept me in the loop and I am eternally grateful; it was like being put down gently rather than tossed aside. As middle school came and went, I changed more and more. I became less angry and more resigned; I was still much quieter than when you met me, but I felt and acted happier than when I began. You always gave me the opportunity to become my favorite self again. You always left the door open to come back to that better time.
Eighth grade saw me more different than ever. You saw me discover a passion for history; for French; for people; for politics. You encouraged me over every mountain. You told me to reach for new heights and to try new things, in every aspect of my life. You encouraged me every day to be that favorite self of mine. I talked about you all the time at school; my friends heard all about you, and they knew how much I looked up to you, and still do. Meanwhile, you were reaching new lows. I tried to help you, but I didn’t know how. I had no experience with advice; I couldn’t decipher what would be good for you. I stated the obvious from my perspectives, and you declared it helpful. In years to come you would admit that in the end I was right; even though I had no idea what I was doing.
Then high school began. I became a freshman. I experienced so much for the first time; everything was so new and exciting, and there was so much to do. I was busy, but I always, always wanted to make sure that I had time to talk to you. I needed to be reassured of who I was; talking to you made it seem so obvious. You knew my favorite self; the one I wish I could be all the time. I made time to call you; we texted and talked online. You started calling me your little sister; you were my big sister. You’d been my role model for years, but now I was beginning to see how much I actually meant to you as well. Who knew that two people so different in every way would become so close. You gave me hand –me-downs, I bought you little presents. You drove me everywhere. We hung out on your roof and watched movies on your couch. We joked about robots and discussed everything under the sun. You’ve continually given me the best advice. At fourteen, I finally felt like I could maybe try to return the favor. You hated your job; I came to your apartment in my pajamas ready for you to vent and to cheer you up. I worried about you a lot that year. You needed my prayers and I filled the sky to the brim with them. No matter what, you were always able to resurrect my favorite self.
Now you’ve moved away, and it’s nearly impossible for us to see each other. I don’t make as much time to talk to you as I used to. As I’ve begun to find my own identity, you’ve been there every single step of the way, taking me back to my core and my favorite version of me. Over the years, my favorite self has evolved, and taken on some of your characteristics. You have changed me and my life. I will always be indebted to you and your never-ending patience and understanding, and good advice. I can only hope that someday, I can find a way to repay you.





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