This is a picture of me from last summer, right before I began my junior year of college. In the picture, I am seventeen years old. I will never slow dance at prom or get my high school diploma. Instead, I will graduate from college next year, a couple months before my nineteenth birthday. I won't go out for drinks with my classmates until the year 2016. And I made that decision.
At the end of eighth grade, I applied and was accepted to the Early Entrance Program at the University of Washington, which allows students to forgo high school in favor of one year of intense college-prep classes. It was brutal and kind of felt like a weird psychological experiment. Many days I wondered why I was doing this to myself, and honestly, I still don't have a specific, beautifully articulated reason. I just didn't want to spend four years in high school, and I wanted to prove to myself that I could do big, exciting things. I'm not a stereotypical genius kid - math is my least favorite subject; I'm studying English and dance. My parents didn't push me into this adventure, nor did they rob me of my childhood. But now that I'm in college, I can't imagine not choosing the path I took. It was a way out of the life I'd gotten bored of living.
My friends from middle school are heading off to colleges around the country this year, and it's eerie to think that they'll be joining me in "the college experience" - but our experiences won't be the same at all. I want people to know that my story isn't better or worse than theirs, it's just different. And I turned out okay.