Defining Myself

#105

Defining Myself

Growing up, I never really felt that I was "different" as I've heard some people describe themselves when they realized they were gay. However, I knew I wasn't attracted to girls the way the boys in my class were. How could I not feel self-conscious as I listened to all them interact with the girls that they liked? I would silently watch and wonder why I never felt compelled to do the same. I began to feel more and more self-conscious, like an outsider. It was during this time that I became aware of the fact that most of my friends were girls and I wasn't into the traditionally masculine activities. It was these stereotypes of gay behavior that I tried to conceal. That feeling of constantly hiding myself slowly began to affect my social life and I started to become more of an introvert. Furthermore, with the staggering statistics of teenagers that had committed suicide in recent years because they couldn't deal with the ramifications of "coming out", along with the large amount of bullying that was beginning to come to light, I felt that it would be best for me to just continue to hide this part of myself until I could adequately deal with it.

Finally, during the winter break of my seventh grade year, I came out to one of my closest friends, Kayla. It was after this incident that I was able to open myself up to all those that were there for me. This not only included my friends, but also my mentor at my school. All of these people helped me to realize that me being gay was not the worst thing in the world and that it was not something that needed to interfere with my bright future. Through their willingness to listen to me talk about my worries with coming to terms with, and truly identifying, who I am, I was able to break free of the social cell that I had imprisoned myself in. Furthermore, it was when I was able to talk to my parents and actually know that I was truly accepted by them, I was really able to become the person I am today.

As I look back, I see that the hardest part of coming out was that I didn't want it to change who I was to other people. I didn't want it to become my defining quality and totally erase everything else about myself. For I am not just gay, but also artistic, intelligent, and even funny at times. I realized that I am the only one who can define who I am and it wasn't until I came to learn this that I could fully accept the part of myself I had hidden for so long. My new self-acceptance came from within. I understand that this will be a lifelong process and it's moments like the ones I have experienced throughout my middle school and high school career that have reminded me that only I can say who I am and how I want to be seen.

After my high school graduation I will be attending at four year institution. It has been because of programs such as High Tech Academy and countless others that I have become the academic student I am. For instance, through the program NSBE Jr. (National Society of Black Engineers) and High Tech Academy, I have been exposed to the engaging and challenging world of Biomedical Engineering. After being granted the opportunity to speak to current Case Western Reserve University medical and engineering students, I have been able to see where I would like to go with my career. As a student, I have always been intrigued by the constant advancement of technology and discoveries in medicine. I think that is important for the methods that are used stay relevant to the time period that we are in. Furthermore, it is the overall satisfaction of knowing that what you do every day is being used to save lives. I plan to take a degree take my degree in Biomedical Engineering and graduate from medical school focusing on neurology.

All of the schools I am looking at now either highly ranked in BME and/or provide amazing research opportunities for their undergraduates. Furthermore, they still allow me to stay in touch with artistic passions by providing numerous student clubs/organizations geared towards music or dance. This list of school includes large public schools like The Ohio State and University of Michigan, Ivy League schools such as University of Pennsylvania and Yale University, and even small liberal arts schools like Haverford College and Skidmore College among others. As of this date I have sent my applications to all my schools and will be hearing back from OSU and U of M in mid-December since I applied to them early through Early Action.

Overall, I use my experiences with my sexuality not as a crutch, but as a way to constantly look for new ways of self-discovery and acceptance in everything that I do. This includes how I encounter social and academic challenges. We have all read the statistics on how many African-American males are actually graduating from high school these days and most know that that number plummets further when it comes to those that graduate from an institution of higher education. My parents and mentors continually remind me to never forget where I come from and that I must give back so that others can get to where I will be going also. This means taking those experiences like being unsure of who I am and putting in place programs that help teenagers to explore all of the options that are out there for them. I believe that by doing my best, I can show them that with hard work, so can they.

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