Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
In kindergarten, I was a cyborg. At least, with wire glasses and a clanky metal leg brace, my classmates thought I was. They thought cerebral palsy was a disease that made you part robotic; mostly because I led them to believe that. For in-school physical therapy, I told them I was getting an oil change. In gym, unable to move my left leg much, I told them I had rusty hinges. When they asked why I couldn’t do all the things regular kids did, my circuitry needed rewiring. I didn’t just have cerebral palsy, I was cerebral palsy.
In middle school I was “cripple girl,” and I embraced it. It made me different from the crowd, separated from a scrap yard of the mundane. Teachers stopped me to ask if I was limping, but, “no, I’m just a cripple.” The name was welded to me; branded on my forehead with a hot iron.
Now, I want new plating. I should have avoided the cripple name. I’m not a cripple or a robot, even if that’s what the school knows me as.
When pen hits paper, scratchy and quick, I become something different, without hinges or rust, reworking and destroying and adding to my work, crafting a sort of machine of my own. The paper becoming gray with pen smudges, but still, a fully-functioning piece of work. Then the keyboard clicks away, and I am part of an assembly line, taking the smeared, blotchy masterpiece and perfecting it. Deleting mistakes, my eyes scanning the screen like beams for improvements to be made, because this will be a top-of-the-line product. If the product has too many errors and gets scraped, I question whether or not this is what I was built to do. “It’s not too late to get good at math and science and have steady work,” I think. I slip back into my robot state-of-mind, losing myself. But then I create a machine that has the ability to evoke every imaginable human emotion; that can make my mother cry with a single read-through, make my friends fall down in laughter, cause the principal to give me funny looks in the hallway, and I am sure that I am doing something right.
I used to be a cyborg; a rusty, broken, half-human, half-robot creature. I used it as a barrier to hide who I really was: a self-deprecating kid who was ashamed of her cerebral palsy, of her awkward gait, her left arm’s inability to extend all the way, her thick-rimmed glasses. Cerebral palsy no longer defines who I am, my limitations, my goals in life. Through writing I can set myself apart from my weaknesses and become whoever I want to be. I am not a cyborg, and I’m not a cripple girl, but I’m not just “some girl,” either. I am the girl who is afraid of not being the best, who knows every Tegan and Sara song by heart, who wore Dr. Martens to junior prom. I am the girl who bakes cake pops to be fancy, buys t-shirts with giant animal faces to be trashy, who has cerebral palsy, but doesn’t let that limit her. Above everything, I am a writer. I am a writing machine.