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It happened in my youth. It was a weekend in the fall when I found myself surrounded by unfamiliar faces. I wanted to integrate into the desirables, as competition for attention would soon increase. I volunteered, taking the opportunity to assert myself in order to invalidate any preconceived judgments. I was chosen along with another boy. We were told to leave the room as the other students discussed what would happen next. When we returned; we stood opposite each other, encircled by our teachers and fellow classmates. Following the first instructions, we walked to our designated positions. I suddenly heard the scornful mutterings of a few of those in the crowd and was instantly crippled with fear. Although I felt my stomach drop with the realization that the joke would be on me, I continued on. After a few more uncomfortable poses, our last direction was a mechanical wave. As I swayed my wrist, I heard the entire room begin to sing, “Here she comes, Miss America…”

 

I was mortified. The image I was hoping to impress upon my peers was now ruined. I was no longer a viable candidate for the social hierarchy I didn’t understand but desperately wanted to be apart of. However, in retrospect, this involuntary separation from the collective enabled me to embark on the independent interests that would inevitably define me…

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