Last year I applied to college. Well, more like around twenty colleges because I had no idea what I wanted. During the beginning and middle of last year, I was a mess, because I was applying to college.
For the past month I’ve been trying to share a story about growth; but, how do I tell a story about growth when I still have so much growing up to do?
Along with every other person applying to college, I was tasked with writing a college essay. Initially, I thought this would be the saving grace of my application. “Hey, I’m a pretty decent writer, this should be a breeze!,” I previously believed. Immediately I was proven wrong.
I wrote draft after draft. Met with my English teacher practically every lunch period to work on it; I wouldn’t eat lunch as a result. I isolated myself from my friends and people who could genuinely see I wasn’t okay. This essay that I once thought would be my life boat became the reason I was sinking.
What was the premise of this essay? Growth. I wrote about my change from childhood to adulthood (despite the fact I still consider myself a child, but that’s a whole other story).
I’ve decided to share my essay with Aura 32. I realize now the importance of seeing other people’s work to improve and inspire my own. While it’s not the next great American novel, it did get me into college after all. With a new year of rising high school seniors now tasked with the job of applying to college, hopefully my essay will help someone else too.
Disclaimer: As proof of my growing insanity, I wrote around thirty different documents all revolving around my essay; whether it be a rewrite, suggestion, or a whole new draft entirely. Therefore, I’m not exactly certain this was the ultimate draft I submitted, but it was definitely in it’s final stages by this point. Enjoy!
I cannot help but smile as I excitedly read my Playbill from cover to cover, drowning out the rest of the audience. Even though I’ve seen other Broadway shows, anticipating the start of Tuck Everlasting, a story that has stuck with me since childhood, is something entirely new. All around me, the lights dim and the crowd applauds as protagonist Winnie Foster cheerfully pops on stage. As I watch my favorite book come to life before my eyes, I am reminded of my experiences with this story.
As a sixth grader, I never imagined that a piece of required reading would later become such an important part of my life. Natalie Babbitt’s novel, Tuck Everlasting, holds a lot of firsts for me: my first year in middle school, my first novel during the school year, and the first time I truly identified with a main character. Watching the scenes progress on stage, all the book’s qualities I loved before come flooding back to me. I remember meeting Winnie Foster, a young girl who yearns to find friends following a family tragedy. I was eleven then, and I am seventeen now: both incredibly important ages for me and the story.
As the play unfolds, I am reminded of the impact Winnie has had on my life. The difference between eleven and seventeen doesn’t seem that wide; however, a lot can happen in six years. I can still picture taking my first steps into the daunting middle school as a shy eleven year old. I recall the events of that year and notice that one memory from sixth grade science class is particularly distinct. Normally, I sat front and center in the first row beside my friend. However, one day when she was absent, I found myself sitting at the back of the classroom because I lacked the confidence to participate without the support of my bubbly companion. Yet because of Winnie Foster’s influence, I pushed myself to talk to new people. In the novel, Winnie’s loneliness drives her to venture into the woods and befriend the Tuck family. I, too, felt this drive, and, in fact, gained a lifelong friend during this period in my life. I looked to Winnie as encouragement and pushed myself to speak to someone new.
When intermission rolls around, I reflect on my life today. At seventeen, I couldn’t be more different from my younger self. It was Winnie Foster who inspired me to break out of my shell and help other people. Therefore, I immediately understood the struggle of new student, Marcia, when she entered my enormous school. Before first period ended, I had given her my phone number and shared all my notes. I debunked any rumors she heard about being thrown into our lakes, and, despite my lack of directional abilities, I walked her back and forth to all her classes. This was the least I could do to make her feel welcome. With Marcia, I didn’t hesitate to reach out to make a new friend the way I had in sixth grade. As I embark on my senior year of high school, I realize the influence Tuck Everlasting has made on me. I would not have known how to help Marcia without the influence of this story. The novel has taught me the magnitude one person has on another. If I could help someone feel included, as the Tuck family did for Winnie, my sixth grade self would be proud of the person I’ve become.
By the end of the play, I’ve made an important realization; Tuck Everlasting doesn’t just tell the story of Winnie Foster, but it also tells my story. As the curtain falls, I realize a new chapter of my life has begun. In the past six years I’ve grown up alongside this story, and I cannot wait to see where it takes me next.