For my narrative project, I chose to focus on the pressure of students to perform well in school and reach the next level of education. For me, it was the terrifying journey from my K-8 school on the northern face of Queen Anne Hill to my new high school in Seattle's Wedgwood neighborhood. For many others, it's the uncertainty of college. I told my story through photographs, taking pictures of my friend Zach to represent myself. This is one of many parallel narratives in the world today.
The cover image and the first picture I took, this picture shows the first hard choice I had to make: The order of schools I was applying to. I applied to a bunch of different high schools, U Prep among them. I blindly ran through the application process with no experience. I didn’t accept as much help from my last school as I could have. I made the process harder on myself. The turmoil, confusion, and stress of picking schools to apply to was a major factor in my emotional well-being at the time. If I had this much trouble picking high schools, just imagine how seniors feel picking colleges.
The decisions came back from those schools around February of the next year, while I was on midwinter break in Kauai. One school flat out rejected me. Another three waitlisted me, including U Prep. A fifth accepted me, but something went wrong with the financial aid and I found out after a few weeks that the school wasn’t an option. I didn’t know what to do. I desperately didn’t want to go to a public school; my reference school was Mt. Si High School, over 30 miles from Seattle. I felt cornered and lost.
Going into March, with final decision deadlines coming up, I wrote to U Prep. It was my first choice school and I really wanted to get off the waitlist. I had heard from a friend that they had a history of waitlisting kids from my school due to the sheer number of previous students who applied as a backup option.
My emails and my parents, teachers, and friends help and support payed off. U Prep moved me off the wait list and accepted me into the class of 2020. For me, this narrative had a happy ending. For many others, it may not. But for both of us, this isn't the last time we'll feel pressure to accomplish something, to be someone, or to value something.