Modeling Maude

Common app – What is a movie that impacted your life?

As a child, I worried about everything. Things that most kids enjoyed like school, roller coasters and junk food made me nervous and uncomfortable. I became used to having a persistent stomach ache; I was always anxious and reluctant to try anything. Consequently, I felt perpetually sure that whatever was around the next corner would be tragic and scary.

My parents, known for their readiness and optimism, refused to let my hesitations hold me back. They pushed me to try new things while supporting me despite my tearful objections. Though few things could comfort me in my loneliness and apprehension, most nights I would be found safety curled up with them, watching a movie. We watched everything from documentaries to cartoons, The Godfather to Airplane!. I normally viewed these gatherings as an escape, but one film truly touched me: Harold and Maude.

While I sought to survive in a family where living life to the fullest was the cardinal rule, I watched Harold struggle to fit in with a family of wealthy socialites. I empathized with his somber acts of rebellion in response to his mother’s insistence that he conform. Harold was a loner, and I could identify with him.

Soon, Harold and I met Maude. Maude’s outlook, that every day is a gift, could not have been more contrary to Harold’s and mine. “A lot of people enjoy being dead,” she tells us, “they’re not dead, really. They’re just backing away from life.” She loves to do and feel new things and introduces us to a fresh way of life by showing Harold how she lives: abandoning cowardice and making the most of each day.

Approaching middle school armed with Maude’s confident words, “I’m always looking for a new experience!”, I began to realize that opportunities had to be seized or they would be missed. Maude did not drag me along in unique machinations as she did Harold, but I kept her philosophy in mind as I pushed myself to try things I would have been anxious about in the past: I joined the city swim team, and went to sleep-away summer camp for two weeks. Though twinges of nervousness still surrounded much of what I did, I knew that Maude would be proud to see me saying “yes” more often.

With time, maintaining an open mind has become easier. I entered high school with few worries and my mindset has provided me with an array of invaluable experiences. I have touched a stingray, been to a rap concert, and eaten raw oysters: things that would have made second-grade Evelyn cringe.

Now that I am approaching college, open-mindedness will continue to be important. I have learned to embrace each experience rather than to count the moments until it’s over; I have become always prepared to greet new people and ideas with readiness and optimism. With that attitude, I strive to gain wisdom from any experience, every experience. I have come so far from my anxious childhood, and am grateful for those movie nights, and for Maude.

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