The topic was, “An event that transitioned you from a child to an adult” – the answer was social media….

In our effort to be partners in parenting, with you, we tend to share articles written by the experts in the field of youth development. Today, we would like to share one written, literally, by someone in the trenches. Below is the college essay submitted by one of our former campers, for the common application. Take a look.

Reputation. A teenage girl’s biggest chore. From cliques to prom dates, it never ends. The constant worry about what people think of you. This paranoia of social status is like a leech that keeps sucking the life out of you until you realize that it’s just a distraction holding you back from the real things that matter most. Just like there is one way to kill a leech, there’s only one way to stop worrying about your reputation; move on. The day I finally lit my reputation on fire, a weight was lifted off my shoulders as I took the step from childhood to adulthood and could appreciate the true beauty in people for who they are, not for who other people think they are.

As an incoming freshman, I was like most others; awkward, an outsider, and most of all, nervous. With about 650 people in my grade, making friends sounds as easy as brushing your teeth. The reality though, is that making friends in a school with over 2,400 people is as nerve racking as a root canal. Of course I had my usual friends I’d casually wave to in passing, but other than that, I had no reliable friend group. All of my friends from both pre-school and elementary school seemed to have found their “people” quickly and easily, but I was the kid still looking. I was the stereotypical outsider everyone had seen in the movies but would have never guessed was me. I made my way through freshman and sophomore year; I sat with some acquaintances at lunch and “friended” hundreds of people on Facebook, to be in the loop and feel connected.

Despite my optimistic intentions, Facebook turned out to be just another leech clinging onto me. It was where I was able to see all of my “friends” together without me, like I had some contagious disease. This addicting website led to nothing but sheer disappointment and pain. It felt impossible to delete my account or even log off, despite the numerous suggestions made by my parents. Although quite hurtful my freshman year, the pain dulled day by day as it became more common and less of a shock.

Junior year was a new beginning; I may not have changed schools or dyed my hair blue or anything dramatic, but I was determined to be outgoing to new faces. As these new faces seemed to become new friends, I felt my new attitude was paying off. Then came December break. The two week vacation turned out to be a déjà vu of freshman year with cancellations and silence. All the emotions came rolling back in just as fast as they disappeared before. I felt stuck in my shy, petty, freshman self that revolved my life around my social status, friend group, and reputation. And then I broke free.

Free from hiding and most importantly, free from caring about those very things that were once so important to me. Instead of finding a circle to try and force myself into, I decided to befriend those who I found shared my interests. I put first impressions aside and really threw myself out there. I found a mature group of people I feel like myself around, and am proud to call my friends. I found people who prioritize the important things in life. This one realization has forever changed my way of thinking. And this has made all the difference. To this day, I am still acquaintances with those whom I called my best friends, and it is so interesting to watch from the outside how their petty drama still consumes their lives. Of course, all lessons in life are only learned through experience, but it is our reactions to those experiences that matures us into adulthood.