Hey guys! Sooooo I applied to college last weekend! YAY! This is my common app essay and I figured since I’ve already submitted it, there’s no harm in sharing it. Let me know what you think:
If “curiosity killed the cat,” as they say, then I have used up most of my nine lives. I have always been a deep ponderer, spending my days locked away, tending to the garden of my thoughts. However, when my mother came to eat lunch with me one day in kindergarten, the puzzled looks and comments from my friends were enough of an incentive for me to open the gates of my mind and emerge. I decided to dig for the truth about my family. “Are you really my mom?” I asked her, looking up into her kind, pale face, and then to my own mocha skin. “Of course I am! You just have a different skin color than me. Your skin is a blend of Mom and Dad’s,” she replied, full of love, empathy, and desire for her daughter to understand. My five year old self was sufficiently satisfied, though I could not yet comprehend how the difference between my mother’s skin and my own would be a point of further intrigue.
I am biracial, and I love it. My biological mother is white and Puerto Rican, and my biological father is Nigerian. However, my identity not just black and white. My parents got divorced when I was about seven. My father left for good. My mother started dating another man. He was tall and kind, with blonde hair and blue eyes. My brothers and I fell in love with him immediately. He went on to marry my mother, raise us, and legally adopt us. This not only made me adopted on one side, it made it so that both of my parents were “white.” You can imagine the attention we draw as a family. The assumption that I am fully adopted, whether from a different country or simply from different people, plagues me everyday. We once had a man chase our whole family to our car, waving us down, wanting to know “Where did you get your kids?” Comical, yes. Troubling, somewhat. This change in my life, while amazing and beautiful, became a large part of my identity. A part I could not ignore. Everyone I met was in a daze of slightly uncomfortable confusion. Common questions included:
“How are your parents white, exactly?”
“Oh, so you’re adopted? From where?”
and my personal favorite, “Soooo, you’re black, right?”
As if being biracial was not complicated enough, I am tasked with explaining why my parents are not. But I believe that perspective is everything, especially when looking upon your own life. Instead of taking offense to the reactions my family warnered, I decide to use my situation as a way to further tend to the curiosity that flowers in my mind. I explored those questions I had as a child. Why was my youngest brother more like his adopted father than his biological father? Was Nurture winning over Nature? How were other people’s perception of our family interrupted by race? Do we see what we want to see, rather than what is simply reality?
Our family is a statement on race and adoption in America. And I, myself, am an example of the diversity that exists in America today. It is hard sometimes, but it also has provided me with a resiliency. I maintain an open mind to the unconventional and the beautiful differences in the world. You have to, when you have a background as varied and complex as mine. My experiences have increased my intellectual curiosity. I thirst for knowledge; knowledge of perception and prejudice, nature and nurture. Knowledge of how I can make change and influence how we perceive our world. I am adopted, I am biracial, and I will continue to search for answers to those questions stemmed from my mind as a child, in the end, plucking those sweet flowers of understanding.