Date of publication: 2017-07-09 05:03
To my childhood self, Timothy’s was my bridge to Terabithia. In this world, I’ve been a resident of Dr. Seuss’s topsy-turvy Thneedville an acrobat, weaving words into webs with Charlotte and a palace spy in Wonderland, fighting for my life in a game of flamingo croquet. Braving these adventures instilled in me a sense of invincibility that pushed me to tackle new experiences, even engaging in mischievous absurdities, both in this world and reality.
Draping myself in jewelry constructed out of straws and cup sleeves, I would unabashedly strut all around the café. Expressions of this unwavering self-confidence and sense of invincibility were not solely limited to my sense of fashion, but rather, it was ingrained in every thought and action that I had. I believed that Timothy’s should’ve been called Anna-Banana’s, that the blue armchair was my throne, and that the deliveryman’s dolly was my royal carriage. Ignorant to the laws of gravity, I once jumped off the dolly after reaching peak acceleration, wholeheartedly believing that I could fly. With a bruised ego and knees, I learned a valuable lesson: invincibility is a mere delusion.
Similarly, much of who I am remains unnoticed at first glance, not because of insignificance but because of initial perception. Most of the people who know me have no clue I’m valedictorian I’m the kid making paper airplanes at the end of class. The rest don’t realize I “do more than just school” but are pleasantly surprised to see me dancing around as Risky Business Tom Cruise for Halloween or just hanging out all over town on weekends. I like to think that ambidexterity helps me juggle these different parts of myself without letting anything go.
As 75Q implements what it learns, so do I. Throughout high school, I applied the “secret” of practice to my basketball career. I spent countless hours sharpening my skills in 95° summer heat to 75° late-winter cold, countless afternoons playing pickup games with my friends, and countless weekends traveling to AAU basketball tournaments. As a result, I became a starter for my school’s varsity team. I applied another “secret,” this time the “secret” of perseverance, by dedicating myself to physical therapy after knee surgery in order to quickly return to football. Later that year, I became the first player in my grade to score a varsity touchdown.
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“No, no, no, you’re all doing it wrong! The secret to developing realistic drawings lies in your ability to study every nuance of the object in front of you,” my art teacher advised. “Try sketching with one eye closed it’s all about perspective, people!”
Within a matter of days I discovered that my host-family was the complete antithesis of the negative characteristics I had originally associated with the swastika. They took me to lavish weddings and temples and taught me how to cook Indian cuisine. My host-mom showed me traditional techniques to create art and we shared many laughs at my many failed attempts at bargaining with market shopkeepers in Hindi. By the mid-way point in my program I had fallen in love with my host-family and their vibrant culture. It was then that I realized that I needed to take another look at the swastika through my host-family’s lens.
Once I became proficient at Twenty Questions, I strengthened my resolve to become masterful. To do so, I needed to become a skillful inquisitor and to combine that with my analytical nature and interpersonal skills, all of which are vital for success in Twenty Questions. Because I had been debating politics with my friends since the 8th grade, I recognized that debate could sharpen these skills. I began to debate more frequently (and later more effectively) in English and government class, at the lunch table and family gatherings, and whenever the opportunity presented itself. This spurred in me an interest for how public policy and government work, leading me to attend Boys State and receive a nomination for The United States Senate Youth Program.