My World

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I remember, when I was barely old enough to remember, my cousin and I racing up a hill to the very, very top and collapsing on the prickly, weathered bench. The adults were far behind us, discussing adult-like things that had no place in our unmarked, crystalline minds. They couldn’t see the fuzzy wonderland that stretched out ahead of our bench. The entire city, the entire world, was laid out in squares and rectangles in front of us. It was a hazy blue sea of buildings and trees and tiny moving cars. I felt like the rough bench pressed underneath my cheek was a ship or island and, if I moved off it, I would move off the cliff and fall down to this foreign and scary place. I didn’t understand why, when I tugged on my mother’s arm and told her to look, she couldn’t see. I didn’t understand why only my cousin and I saw this world, and why I was the only one to dread it. I looked out at that wonderland of streets and hills, I was scared, but underneath the fear was a thrill in my blood. I imagined it was how a knight felt when called to battle. My cousin, in a moment of innocent prophecy, told me that this was our world and it would stay our world forever.Now, instead of clinging to that same bench, I sit on the very edge of the cliff; I will not be intimidated. This place is exactly how I remember it: warm, with tufts dying grass. The scent of pine and soil weaves through the country air and the bench, while looking worse than it did, is still standing. I lean against it—rough and weather beaten still. The view remains the same as well; obscure and out of reach, but visibly beautiful. I can understand why, as a child, I was fascinated by it. What I can’t understand is why I was afraid of it. Corvallis is a small town, as far as college towns go. It’s a city full of lazy activists: people who write angry epistles to the local paper about the condition of country roads and protest impatiently in front of the court house, but refuse to allow any real change. Here, there are fifteen churches, six grocery stores, five city parks, and no outlet malls. The two high schools in town claim a long-standing sports rivalry, but bond over grievances concerning the university teams. Here, the name of the Dutch Bros. crew, the co-op employees and the owner of the local pizza joint are common knowledge. Families reach out to support one of their own; businesses are on first-name terms with the student body presidents of each school. The local paper rarely weighs over five ounces, and the front page story often deals with a lost pet, the city bridge being rebuilt, or the hotly-debated fate of the closed Whiteside Theater. The hottest date spot last year? The brand new Home Depot the city council finally allowed. Wandering the isles on a Saturday night, my date and I found five other couples inspecting paint samples and different tools. Here, everyone knows everyone and most are content to live small.It’s easy to be stifled here, to sink into the comfortable isolation Corvallis offers and be smothered by it. Though they complain about their limited options here, students stay to go to college. Adults, sighing about lack of diversity and entertainment, stay and set down roots. Corvallis can bewitch those not wary and keep them here for life. Which is the reason I visit this hill. Corvallis has given me many opportunities. It’s given me a small, supportive school. I’ve been given a job, a slew of friends, and chances to give back to my community here. But up here, with Corvallis hazy and small, I remember this isn’t the life I want for as long as I live. I want to see the world, leave an impact. I want to experience new cultures; I want to dive into different seas. To feel a different wind in my face! To taste new languages, to dance to new music! I want to change the world by living, and living well. Seeing this city, this world, that used to intimidate me as a child, reminds me of how much I’ve changed and how much I have left to do.Now I know I’ll achieve what I want. I used to believe I wasn’t able to, that one girl can’t change the world. But living in Corvallis has imbued me with the confidence that only living in small town can. I can do anything I want, achieve anything I need. This is my new world, and it will stay my world forever.

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