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“Do not touch” signs are probably my biggest temptation. The simple statement of a rule makes the action it advises against almost irresistible to me. There is no better way to ensure that something is done than to tell me I can’t or shouldn’t do it. Among the many reminders I have received throughout my life- don’t sit like that, or eat like that, or act like that, I discovered the defining attribute in my character; I cannot stand being told no.
Since diapers, I have failed to meet almost all of my parents’ expectations. For one, they wanted a sweet daughter. Instead, they got a Barbie doll destroying, sassy little fireball of a child who far preferred overalls to the cute outfits her mother tirelessly prepared and she tirelessly and intentionally spilled something on. No photos of me exist before age ten in which I am not making a face or doing something overly dramatic. I thought I was hilarious, but my mother was constantly chiding me not to run in the house or dress up the dog or use her lipstick to paint my face.
As I grew up, my small acts of rebellion became more ironic and less chaotic. I joined the band as a tuba player because somebody told me I was too small to ever be good at it. I started building robots and working on cars because I was told I was too pretty to ever need to get my hands dirty. I write for the UIL academic team and take as many advanced classes as I can cram into my schedule because somebody told me I “didn’t look all that smart.” I have my heart set on becoming a Navy SEAL because I was told that girls couldn’t do that.
So far, the only active combat I’ve seen is the war-zone of high school. As the tuba playing, robot building, car fixing, essay writing nerd that I am, I’ve assumed the role of stranded combatant, in too deep and armed with only my pencil and perhaps a soldering iron against the hoards of mindless teenage militants simmering in their gang-style turf wars and vice-grip social classes. Occasionally, I happen across some other poor, caste-less bastard and we form an alliance, but when the exams and finals rain down like shrapnel, I often find myself alone, trudging through the coffee-scented sludge and pressing on into the night, with only my textbook and my lone bedroom lamp to light my way.
This oppressive circumstance delivers most my motivation. High school kids are mean, what’s new? I’ve had a “you can’t do that” pressed upon me almost every day since freshman year. Insults fly like the birds that we flip, but for someone who thrives on criticism, it is the ideal environment to wreak havoc on my fellow students, simply by being successful. For every bitter comment and rude put-down, I only seem to rise higher above the lamentable drama and grow more aggressive in my pursuit of triumph. Forget “you can’t sit with us,” I’ll take the whole table.
Every petty comment, rude remark, and casual insult guided me to the future I have built for myself. I’m auditioning for one of the top Drum Corps in the nation as a tuba player, marching an instrument that weighs a quarter of what I do. My passion for robotics has expanded into a viable career option, and I am proud to have worked on cars that cost more than 4 years of college tuition. My first year on the academic team, I placed sixth in the state. I’m an AP Scholar, a National Merit Semi-finalist, and a QuestBridge Prep Scholar. This leaves one big challenge for me: the SEALs. As of right now, there are thousands of people loudly claiming that no woman can do it. That’s all the motivation I need.
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