Tuesday, June 20

Describe yourself

Here comes another scholarship essay, but one that actually worked. I was one of the finalists for an insane scholarship at Ithaca College. Full tuition, full room and board, living expenses and a one-time $2,500 computer stipend could have been mine if I hadn't screwed up the in-person stage of the whole thing. Whatever though. I am more than happy with my college of choice (which I remain vaguely apprehensive about revealing despite the likely fact that everyone who reads knows I go there). This essay developed from one I wrote in eighth grade. It's funny looking back on this now. My distaste for dances continued throughout high school, the only two I ever spent the whole evening at being my junior and senior proms because post-prom was so cool, but now I'm ready to take on a Dance minor. It's funny where life goes.

My four summers at the Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth (MITY) were among the most influential of my life. While there, I was separated from everything familiar to me, surrounded by diverse backgrounds and cultures, and learned a great deal about myself.

One especially memorable event occurred in my third summer. Art, the head counselor, revealed that a dance would be held that evening, and widespread approval greeted his announcement. I, however, felt apathy. In my hometown, I avoided dances. Those who enjoyed dances were a group I wasn’t comfortable with. They watched an unhealthy amount of MTV and used the word “hottie” on a regular basis.

When the announcements were finished, I went straight to the lounge and played card games with my friend Thu. After an hour of Slapjack, he left to read, and I wandered outside, hoping to find anyone else not at the dance.

Some friends caught me walking past the dance and urged me to come in, but I hurried past, mumbling a pathetic excuse. I was disgusted with myself for brushing them off. MITY was not Baudette, and my friends at MITY weren’t the people at home. Even knowing this, I couldn’t make myself turn and join them.

Eventually, I found an isolated bench overlooking a soccer field where college students were playing a game of shirts and skins. I stared at them, trying to understand how they could enjoy their game while I was tormented by my decision. For some players, sports obviously weren’t the first choice of entertainment, but they enjoyed themselves even as they missed shot after shot.

I decided then to go to the dance. It wasn’t my first choice, but, like the soccer players, I would give it a chance. The dance was moving full swing when I arrived and swept me up.

That summer, I did something new by going to the dance. I didn’t like the blaring music or flashing lights, but I did enjoy every second spent there with my friends, wonderful people I saw for two, short weeks. It was there that I learned to appreciate time spent with good friends and, even though the dance wasn’t that fun, to try new experiences. These lessons still guide my actions and will continue to do so for years to come.

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