With moments to spare, I catch a glimpse of the boarding platform for my train. Like a compass with a broken magnetic strip, I can’t decide my true North.
Like a captain frantically seeking port in a storm, I haul myself through the turbulent ocean of people, trying to avoid being stranded – or trampled – in the dustiest city in the world: Beijing, capital of both China and smog. It is the summer of 2012, and Shanghai isn’t to be home for much longer. Unsettled, I turn to my ever-present book for comfort.
As I read, it is as if the tempest of my thoughts is spelled out on paper.
The overflowing sense of hyper-reality in Tim O’Brien’s words of warfare spills into my world.
It takes great strength to defy the definitions of others, and because of that strength, those who create their own paths discover a different world than those who travel the same worn road. My appearance was certainly different – red streaks in my hair and a newfound fondness for tutus certainly made me stand out.
But the change went deeper than that: I had embraced the idea of being myself, no matter what others thought was cool or “normal.” Spending time in a place where “Most Original” was the highest compliment allowed me to explore myself without fear of being different or lesser, and I liked what I had found.Home is neither arrival nor departure, neither America nor China.Home is the in-between, the cusp of transition – that is where I feel most content.Recognizing the “Most Original” award for the pity-prize that it was, I grew increasingly hostile toward the very word “original.” If you win this cursed award, everyone around you offers feigned sympathy or, even worse, insincere congratulations. It’s an odd, vibrant place with odd, vibrant people.Phrases like “oh, bummer” or well-intentioned but half-hearted “well, good for you” circle the recipient, creating a cyclone of regret from which the “winner” will never recover. Originality is celebrated there – not in the half-hearted “good for you” way, but in the full-throated “GOOD FOR YOU! One of the first of my fellow students to befriend me wore corset tops and tutus and carried a parasol with which she punctuated her every utterance.I feel like a speck of dust outside the train, floating, content and happy to be between destinations. I speak both English and Chinese: Chinese is for math, science, and process, but I prefer English for art, emotion, and description.America owns my childhood, filled with pine trees, blockbuster movies, and Lake Tahoe snow; China holds my adolescence, accompanied by industrial smog, expeditious mobility, and fast-paced social scenes. My reverie isn’t at an end, but I have the answer to my question.Reading sample college essays gives you great ideas and helps to illustrate what is expected from a good college essay.Check out these college essay examples for inspiration!In my hometown of New Haven, Connecticut, where normality was…well, the norm, I tried to be a typical student – absolutely, perfectly normal. Our peers recognized them as being unique, but instead of ostracizing them or pitying them, the students in Berkeley celebrated them.In Berkeley, I learned the value of originality: Those who celebrate their individuality are not only unique but strong.