Crack & Grow Up

Evaluate a significant experience and the effect it had on you.(Common Application, Prompt 1)

I firmly believe that antidrug campaigns whose values instill the “just say no” attitude in elementary school children should be extended to encompass the wretched habit of knuckle cracking. I have done it since I was a young tot, I am told, which seems to make sense since I could rattle off about fifteen variations of the harrowing warnings that my peers and superiors are inclined to give when they hear my signature bone crunching. For instance, “You’re going to get arthritis, you know. My great uncle cracked his knuckles, Grace, and now he has to hire a scribe to put his mental pen to paper.” But I was a brave little thing, or else just hard headed, and would respond with a flippant retort regarding the godly strength of my family’s bones, but thank you for the concern. And so it looked as if I was destined for a life of displaced synovial fluid and gradual knuckle swelling which could very well ruin a far off proposal that some brave man would make. But, even after years of practiced cracking, came a new manipulation of my fingers which proved to produce the same symptoms in a week as would several decades of relentless cracking. I would grasp the top joint, between my first and second knuckle, and twist, until a faint yet supremely satisfying pop could be heard. It was less disruptive and not unpleasantly masculine, and, before the symptoms hit, I imagined it to be less harmful, due its pleasant pop that exemplified the new, ladylike, twenty first century knuckle pop. And I stuck with the method until that fateful day when, in twelve hours time, both of my fifteen year old hands went from dexterous and flexible, to two swollen lumps of flesh incapable of writing, eating, or moving with any precision at all. For all intents and purposes, I was powerless and, consequently, miserable; the helplessness which characterized my condition did not suit me in the least. And so I sat that day, coincidentally on the day I turned sixteen, my hands elevated and sausage-like, sitting in my room as I watched the minutes tick by. Undoubtedly, it was my most depressing birthday to date, as it signaled the end of any notion of invincibility which I had clung to for so long in my childhood. Though my fingers gradually returned to a normal size and I cannot claim that the eye opening experience has rid me of the habit completely, the time when I truly believed nothing could harm me had come to a close. I was no longer the fifteen year old who had never seen a lasting consequence of her actions but now a sixteen year old who could wrap her mind around aging, consequence, and the values of foresight.

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