Strange new world: College independence

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The experience of Move In Day at college is meant to be a joyful and happy occasion, right? Sure you have mixed emotions on both sides; teens finally get that taste of freedom and independence while parents are forced to consider what life will be like without their child at home. But in general you’re supposed to be happy and hopeful, aren’t you?

I wanted to be like the girl in the above photo. I wanted to exude gratitude for my parents’ help with transporting my belongings from home to campus. To be grateful for all of the effort with lugging my boxes and oddly-shaped objects up 5 flights of stairs. To welcome the assistance with not just dumping things inside the doorway but to begin finding homes for each book and article of clothing. To figure out the perfect spot on the wall for my dry erase board, which would serve as a visual reminder for assignments.

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Write Moves: Dabbling in fiction

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During the second half of senior year, I learned of a one week summer program for creative writing for high school students called Write Moves. I wasn’t sure if I would be allowed to apply since I was graduating, but even as a rising college freshman I was eligible to attend. I was one of 8 students accepted into the program.

This was my first big road trip by myself. I drove independently from South Carolina to Georgia College and State University, about 2.5 hours away using written directions. This was before having a GPS system in the car.

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Yearbooks: A lasting impression

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Seventh grade was the start of asking as many people as possible to sign my yearbook. I don’t know what prompted it because it had never been a thing before. But I asked friends, teammates, coaches, teachers, people I barely knew, people who rode the same bus as me. I knew a lot of people’s names but that doesn’t mean I knew them well or they had any idea of who I was.

It wasn’t a popularity contest of trying to get the most signatures or messages. That may be hard to believe because in high school especially I had people writing over ads and I even taped in blank sheets of paper just to create space. I brought my tenth grade yearbook with me to Governor’s School and asked as many people as I could to sign it. I received quite a number of weird looks from people as they reluctantly wrote something down.

But it was never a popularity contest. It was deeper than that. I was trying to cobble together some sense of what people thought of me. What was their impression? How am I actually viewed?

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The Goldilocks of English class

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Throughout high school, I alternated the difficulty of the English classes I took. First regular, then honors, then regular, then Advanced Placement.

The regular classes I found to be fairly easy to the point where I became the point person in group assignments because no one else had ideas or they just didn’t care. I also had a perfectionist streak in me in these classes, I suppose, an air of wanting to do very well. So I guess my classmates and group members knew that if they slacked off, the work would still get done. I also felt confident that we would be graded as a group, not for how the work was divided up. Meaning if someone fell through with what they were expected to do, it would impact the entire group instead of just that individual. So I never wanted to let that happen.

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