I didn’t have the most typical high school career, but if I had not made the decisions I did then, I am certain I would have never met Mr. Funnel Cake.
In high school I was a shy, geeky dork who was never asked out on any dates. I used to cry that nobody would ever “like me” in that way. Instead of focusing on my nonexistent love life, I took as many advanced courses as I could, but at 14 I considered myself “too dumb” to learn a foreign language.
Oh yeah…I was totally into anime and video games and cosplay!
My sister and I used to try on prom dresses for fun, although I never attended a prom or any high school dance. This one looks suspiciously like a wedding dress…
In my sophomore year I switched high schools so that I could double up on English and history credits in order to go to university early. I abandoned a normal teenage social life to attend university full time for the last two years of high school, but I met a lot of great friends in college.
I also took about a billion pictures of myself between the ages of 12–22. (Maybe I was preparing for wedding-day photographs?)
With an early start at The Ohio State University, I had time to choose my major (also change my major), and by the time I was 17 I was applying to enroll in the highly competitive design department that accepts just 18 students per year.
High school students are eligible to apply, but generally they must complete a freshman foundation year before starting the design program’s three-year sequence. After applications are reviewed, prospective students are invited for interviews with the staff members, and during my interview, something important happened.
The professors let me know they liked my portfolio and would be glad to have me start the program in 2006 after a foundation year. Well, I told them that wouldn’t work for me. I had taken design foundation and general education courses for the past two years, and I was not about to waste another year of my life waiting for this program to begin. I wanted to start the following autumn!
Apparently the professors were a little surprised by my gutsy request but it made sense to them, so I became the first (and maybe last) student in the history of the department to begin the program directly after my high school graduation. At 20, I believe I was the youngest graduate of my program ever.
Because I began when I did, I happened to be traveling abroad in autumn 2007. If I was not traveling then and I did not know my classmate who met Mr. FC in Greece, I would not have been in the right place at the right time.
Enjoying chocolate fondue for the first (and last) time ever
In high school I could never picture what my future husband would look like, but I assumed he would be American. I was obviously wrong about that…just like I was wrong about being unable to learn a foreign language. I never forget how lucky I was to meet Mr. Funnel Cake, and I often think about all the choices we made that led us to meeting one another. I am thankful every day for that.
I’m still shy and I am still a dork, but I have grown more confident since my high school years. Leaving America made me grow in ways I never knew possible. I started learning and thinking in a different language. I began to see the world through other cultures’ points of view and realized that my country may not be the best country ever. The world is a big place and I was no longer limited to the continental USA.
Now I am a designer in Switzerland with a slight international twang to my English. I travel to a new country every year, and I have friends from all over the world. I need to eat my meals with a fork and a knife (something we don’t do that often in my family), I like beer now, I willingly go hiking on weekends, I wear keffiyehs all the time, I wouldn’t dream of wearing my Birkenstocks in public or dying my hair a crazy color again, and I deeply value my private, quiet Swiss privacy bubble in public.
Although I am still very American, I’m becoming a little more international. I am trying to adapt to Swiss and European culture. Who knows, maybe in another 10 years my family will think I’m even stranger.
How have you changed since high school?
*All pictures are personal*