Dec. 17, 2020
As part of College Confidential's essay series, we're sharing personal essays from students who have already been accepted to college. The student who wrote this as her essay was accepted ED to New York University, and we are sharing it with her permission.
Auburn locks with bright golden streaks sprout from my head and fall upon my shoulders. Dark clumps of melanin sprinkle my rosy cheeks. Only two percent of people in the world have this condition. My fiery copper mane appears darker indoors but glows a warm ginger in the sun. Ever since I came out of the womb and my dad yelped "The baby has red hair!" I stood apart. Because of this rare trait I was born with, I now operate with the belief to simply be me and embrace myself for who I am.
"Oh my gosh….can I touch it?" whispered the enchanted, slight, gray-haired lady in Foodtown with her wrinkled hand elongated toward my head as she approached my mom and me. "Hurry up!" squealed my naturally tan, blonde friends who basked in the sun without having to worry about getting burnt as I aggressively applied sunscreen to every inch of my body. Nothing is more frustrating than living at the Jersey Shore and having to spend a half hour at the beach slathering on sunscreen every two hours. I used to long to be a tan, blonde beach bum and change my fiery head of hair, not because I didn't like my auburn strands, but because I didn't want to be different. "Cheeto-head" and "Carrot-top" are embarrassing names I have been called by groups of boys while just strolling through town. "Never, ever dye your hair! It's so beautiful," warned my hairdresser. Natural red hair is more difficult to dye than any other shade because it holds its pigment much firmer than other hair colors. However, no matter how much I longed to change my hair, I knew it would be impractical.
The impracticality of changing my hair color became a reminder to me to stay true to who I am as a person. As an inclusive child, I was the one to ask the shy girl sitting alone on the playground to join me on the monkey bars, the one to pair up with the boy with Down syndrome for an art project, the one to walk the boy with diabetes to the nurse's office to check his blood sugar, and the one to take the new girl who was crying to the guidance counselor, who is now one of my closest friends. I like people and believe that we should all embrace our unique qualities, abilities, individuality, and natural colors. Despite this, I do know how hard it is to stay true to one's core beliefs when the majority believes in something else.
In eighth grade, my basketball friends were all deciding where they were going to attend high school. I desperately wanted to attend the private, Catholic high school down the street, but my parents wanted me to stay in our sending district and attend our public high school because the academics are superior to the private school's. I wanted to blend in and do what all the other basketball girls were doing, which was choosing the high school with the best basketball program. "WHY would you go THERE?" the girls would question me since my high school had a long reputation of having a noncompetitive basketball program. I would think to myself, Ugh, they're right...here I am being different again! Instead, choosing my public school was one of the best decisions I have ever made because I was able to be part of a unique situation, help my new coach build a newly competitive program, become an impactful player, and stay true to me.
Like my red pigment, I believe in the fact that everyone should stay true to who they are and not change their unique colors because they want to conform to society. The elderly lady who was enamored with my hair color lives inside me now: embracing all of my true colors and simply being me.