No Longer Am I Average
I used to be an average person. I was just like a lot of people, actually. When I was younger I knew that I wanted to be a veterinarian, just like any other girl who grew up with twenty different pets. I went to cheerleading camp, and played soccer. As you can imagine, I even went through an awkward stage too. Every morning before school I would straighten my brown, shoulder-length curly hair into a greasy mess. My brown and pink Barbie glasses frequently were missing screws or had duct tape right in the center on my nosepiece from too many close calls. I had painful acne, and a pudgy stomach. I was the epitome of your stereotypical middle school student – awkward, a little weird, and the teacher’s pet. I had a big group of dramatic, gossiping friends – the only thing that was important to us was who was dating whom, and what we would wear to the fun-night dances. I thought that I was going to have these friends forever, just like many other average people I know, who continue on this cycle of life with their dramatic high school friends, gossip, and materialistic goals. The average person has the average American mindset – get through high school, go to college, get a job, get married, and have a family. When I still had this average mindset I felt the same way. I knew I was going to follow on the same path as my parents, and I had the rest of my life planned out. Thankfully though, I experienced a few different changes in my life during high school that changed my mindset completely. I changed friend groups, joined clubs, and started different extracurricular activities – all of which have all helped to shape who I am today and spark an interest in continuing to explore myself and the world.
My freshman year of high school, one of my best friends moved to Wisconsin, some of my other friends started partying, and another one of my best friends was practicing to become a professional liar. At this point in my life, I was what people would consider straightedge. Believe it or not, I actually did not think that it would be fun to go to parties and get drunk or high… I still wanted to go to laser tag or the mall for fun. I guess I was actually pretty naïve to think that my friends would not have fallen under the peer pressure of their older siblings and friends who went to parties. Even though I was losing friends because of poor decision making that was negatively impacting their lives, I was better than they were because I had a stronger mind. I had a greater will power to make decisions for myself, and I started to learn that if people or relationships in general are going to bring you down, there is no point to keep those people in your life. I am thankful that I got to experience what it was like to have good friendships and bad friendships, because now I know what to look for in a good friend. I know what I deserve, and to have good friendships is really important in life, whether you just have a few good friends, or a lot of good friends.
As for my ex-friend who is a liar, I decided not to be friends with her due to the drama that she surrounded herself with. We used to be really good friends, but my freshman year that slowly started to change. While I was losing more friends than I was gaining, she decided to make life all about her and her problems, which weren’t actually problems, rather lies to try and make friends. For example, we had just gotten our midterm exams back in Geometry and were walking through the white halls of Skyline, when I noticed Lucy had a red A circled at the top of her exam.
“Good job! That was a really hard test, maybe we can study for the next one together?” I asked as we continued walking.
“Of course! How did you do on this one?”
“I received a B, I guess I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been.” I said.
At that same time another friend of ours, who was in the same math class with a different teach came up to us.
“Hey guys! How did you do on the test? I got an A-.”
My friend who received the A seemed to get choked up for a second as she responded, “I got a C! Can you believe that! It was so easy, I can’t believe I basically failed.”
I remember turning to her in awe. I had seen the A on her paper, so why was she making up that she got a worse grade?
Another day she was at lunch crying.
“What’s wrong?” I asked. “Why are you crying?”
Too busy to notice me, I heard her telling some of our friends.
“My dad beat me last night… It was horrible I don’t know what to do.” She was sobbing, but again I was confused. The night before, she had spent the night at my house… she hadn’t even been with her dad. Again, why would someone feel compelled to lie about such a major problem? She kept doing this throughout the year, similar to the boy who cried wolf, creating drama about something insignificant, and making up things in general. Later on in the year I realized that she had been trying to get pity from our peers, and manipulate them into being her friends because of the “rough life” that she lived. I did not understand then, and I still do not understand now why it is appealing to have a relationship with someone based on a made up reality. It’s lying to yourself and others around you, and again I decided that it was best for me not to have such poisonous people in my life.
Without as many friends in my life, I had a lot more free time to explore and try new things. I worked extremely hard at soccer, and made it on the Varsity team as a freshman. I also joined the Rubik’s Cube Club and the Students Against Destructive Decisions Club. In addition, I used all of this positive energy and focused on becoming a great soccer captain for my club soccer team. I was busy, but these pressures helped me focus my time, and I kind of just did my own thing. At this point in time I would still consider myself to have been an average individual. While I participated in many extracurricular activities, I still didn’t really stand out. I was a leader on my soccer team – I was passionate about it, and playing soccer came naturally to me. I was a strong athlete, but so was everyone else who played sports at my high school. I knew people thought I was weird for participating in the SADD and Rubik’s Cube clubs, and for a while I think I even viewed my participation in these clubs as something for me to laugh about, rather than to embrace, because that is how my peers viewed it. At the end of my sophomore year I still felt ashamed to be in this clubs… I was embarrassed to have such “weird” passions, and hardly any friends. Not only was I average, people also thought I was strange.
This changed when I became a model. Well, I can’t say that I was a model right away, but in my 12-week modeling classes I learned to embrace my passions, and simply not care at all about what other people thought. I can still remember when I went in with my sister and mom, to sign my sister up for the modeling classes. I was wearing my soccer uniform – navy blue shorts and a white t-shirt, stitched with the number three, and my blue Nikes. After checking in, the director of John Casablancas Modeling Agency in Canton, Angela, called us into her office to interview Sarah, my sister. Just a few minutes into the interview, Angela turned to me and said, “You know? You could do our modeling classes too, if you wanted to do them for free. You seem as though you are very outgoing. You’re an athlete too right? That means that you are actually in shape, and not just unnaturally thin.” It was pretty hard for me to believe what she was saying at first – I was a soccer player, an athlete. Not a model. I didn’t want to be a model or wear high heels or learn how to model-walk. I decided to sign up for the modeling classes in order to spite my sister, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.
In the twelve weeks that followed, I learned acting and interview etiquette, different makeup and hairstyles, and I practiced on the runway for three hours each week. I also learned that models actually do eat pizza, swaying hips are not natural, and I was more outgoing than my sister. I excelled in the modeling classes. Nobody knew me there, and the positive encouragement I received really did great things for my mind. I came out of my shell. I was a model. I could wear four-inch heels. Modeling instilled a great deal of confidence in me… I had never felt as though I had so much power before.
For twelve weeks, once a week for three hours each week I was under the constant surveillance of the picture to the left. I remember always upon reaching the end of the runway and turning around to walk back towards this picture, I would stand taller, with my chin up, eyes forward, similar to the girls on the right of the picture. I looked to them for guidance. From the back I always made sure that I was as in line as the girl in the orange dress. I always pictured myself as the girl in the orange dress… not only do we both have brown curly hair, but I wanted to radiate confidence like she does. I’m not sure why I love this picture so much, besides the fact that it shows eight girls who are confident, beautiful, and in charge of this picture. I think it is inspiring, and in the three years since I was last at the modeling studio, I haven’t forgotten it. If it wasn’t for this picture, I think I would have given up during the harder classes… I wouldn’t have tried to walk as well as I did, and I wouldn’t have paid as much attention during the hair and makeup classes. But, at some point in their lives these girls must have gone through what I went through to be where they are now, frozen in this picture, a vibrant piece on a dull red wall. For twelve weeks I worked to impress these models and by the end of my classes, I felt like someday, I actually could be like them. Maybe someone will hang up a picture of me on their wall to look at for inspiration. Modeling classes changed me. This picture changed me. It’s as though I always had this confidence, a soul full of opportunities, but I had always been suppressed, and held down by my fear of judgment. Modeling changed that though, and because of my renewed confidence in myself, I was able to open my mind to other opportunities.
Suddenly, I wasn’t an average teenager anymore. I had not ever wanted to model before starting those modeling classes, but it was something that I had so much fun doing. Through my experiences there, I started to learn not to be afraid to experience new things in my life. I met new people, made new friends… I was in control of my life. I modeled, played soccer, and did AP homework that summer. When I came back to school for my junior year, I was a different person. I didn’t have friends that dragged me down. As a matter of fact I only had about three good friends going into my junior year. I radiated in confidence. There was no need for me to be afraid of what other people thought about me, what was important was that I loved myself.
My junior year I was president of the Students Against Destructive Decisions Club, Foreign Exchange Club, and Spanish Club. I was on the Varsity soccer team, I was a captain of my Club soccer team, and I volunteered two hours every week. I was starting to set myself apart from others in my grade. I didn’t care about what other people were doing, I only focused on myself and I put everything I had into making sure I could be the best person I could be. I had a wide variety of interests that were only going to become greater and greater.
Fast forward to April of my senior year. I am sitting on the Millennium Park sign in Chicago, with my best friends – one from Switzerland and one from the country Georgia. My mom wanted to show my exchange student friends Chicago, so she had taken us there on a weekend trip. My Georgian friend, Salome, couldn’t stop talking about all of the great historical events of Chicago. It was absolutely inspiring as we sat there, enjoying the beautiful day, listening to her tell us about her goals for the future, and how one day she wanted to be a politician in Georgia. I was star struck by my friend, and I asked her how she had gotten to come to America and how she was going to take control of her future.
“Well, I worked really hard to get here. I have always had this dream to come to America, see the beautiful people and learn about the culture. So I did. I studied hard – I know seven languages, and I have already been accepted into the University of my choice in Georgia without taking the entry exams. I’m here on a full scholarship. Someday, I’m going to work for the United Nations…” She continued on, and right then and there I decided I wanted to be like her.
While my desires to become a veterinarian may have confirmed my place in society as an animal lover, and a middle-class citizen, how was I ever going to learn more about the world by having a stationary job confined in Ann Arbor? Someday, I am sure that Salome will be the president of Georgia. I want to be like her, the kind of person whom inspires others, simply by my strong desires to experience the world and challenge myself.
I strongly believe in the saying, “Knowledge is power.” I believe that to be completely knowledgeable, one has to not place limits upon themselves and be brave enough to take “the road less traveled by” (Frost). Never again will I allow myself to follow in other’s footsteps or dumb down my intelligence in order to protect my dignity. I will let my confidence radiate from within. Last summer I learned some German and traveled to Switzerland and Germany. This summer, I have an internship as a sustainable farmer, and am saving my money to go to France. In the future I will study abroad, in order to increase my fluency in Spanish. I will learn French, learn to play the piano, and teach myself how to write with my left hand. I write letters to people in cursive, and I cannot wait to volunteer and feed the homeless again next week.
It’s quite crazy… how a few changes in my life made such a big impact on me. I got rid of toxicity in my life from negative friendships; I modeled and gained confidence. I joined every club I wanted to at my high school, did all of the sports I wanted and I managed to maintain a 4.0. I have friends from over twenty different countries, and in the future I have plans to go see all of them. And I will someday, somehow. I do not desire to have a specific job, or a family, or become a mother, the kind of lifestyle that many Americans do strive to have. As a matter of fact, sometimes I actually wish I wasn’t American, after having been so inspired by all of my friends from other countries. I want to be from everywhere, grown from the lands on different continents, taught by my experiences. How will I do this? I do not know. But I will. And that is what makes me different from my average friends.
I am a model. I am a student and an athlete. I am motivated. I am confident. I am a dreamer. I am that 19 year old who everybody thinks is wise beyond her years, wised by the pages in her books, the articles she reads, the people she meets and the experiences she has had. I know I can change the world, and I am to inspire others to do the same. Never again will I be simply average. I want to be extraordinary.