Sunday, June 17, 2007

Lying To Fit In

I lied on my college application. That has bothered me for so long, it’s time to get it off my chest.

See, the college application essays are stupid. They want to know an important moment in your life, about your future plans, about your hero. The most pivotal moment I can think of now is when I realized I could no longer please or even try to understand my mother. Future plans? I thought I’d be dead by twenty. Hero? I had none. I was dead.

I often wonder why I even applied to begin with. I think it was peer pressure. Being in the honors program, everyone else was applying. Thus, I did too. There was no research involved, I applied only to schools that sent applications to me and asked me to apply. I think I even got application waivers because of my economic status. All I had to do was fill in the paperwork and then write those damn essays.

It wasn’t easy. I understood some things. Colleges wanted happy. Colleges with money could give me money. Looking at the tuition costs, I applied to those that were the highest. My mother was aghast, didn’t support me in it, didn’t help me fill out applications. She wanted me to go to a State school, but she didn’t really even want that. She wanted me to go to community college, like my brother, stay at home and work to ‘save money for a state school.’ There was no way in hell I was staying with her.

So I had to write the essay and I realized that they didn’t want to know the ‘real’ me, they wanted a shiny happy person, and the poorer I was the happier they’d be because all colleges crave ‘diversity.’ Thus, I lied, and still hate myself for it. I wrote an essay praising my mother, saying how strong she was. I talked of how she brought us from a life in poverty in Arizona to a stable house in New York giving up her husband for her children. All hail the mighty mother, I bowed to convention. Playing up the poverty, I turned her into a f*cking saint.

And, I not only got into colleges such as Vanderbilt and Barnard, Columbia, I got scholarships.

But the worst thing was that my mother loved the essay, cried. “It’s so true,” she sobbed, “I never thought you realized how much I did for you.” I swallowed my vomit and asked her to please, for the hundredth time, sign the financial aid forms. She finally did.

Then, to add insult to injury, when admissions came in they called my mother. At work. This pissed me off. I went to school for all these years, I excelled, I wrote this essay that made me ill denying everything I felt, and they call her first to tell her that her little daughter is in. Always the public martyr my mom would cry, then tell them that this was her dream school for me but I wouldn’t listen and if only they could help. . .

In the end I went with the school that gave me the most money, because it was the one that my mother decided would make her look best at work. She told me she wouldn’t help me pay for any other school (not like she helped me pay for that one either. She never signed any paperwork, if anything was sent to the house she promptly destroyed it, and I ended up having to go through the paperwork to declare myself as financially independent each and every term, because legally we shared the same home address) and I held out hope she’d pay for this one. Though, to be fair, one year I filled out the paper work that qualified her for a PLUS loan for my education, I think it was about 1,200, and I never have any intention of paying for it for her.

See, when she bought my brother car after car she told me that I wasn’t getting one because she was saving that money for my education. But when the time came, she bought him another car. So it’s only fair, right? That in the end she burden some costs. After all, she takes all the credit for my success; she might as well pay for some.

I only wish I could charge her more.

I only wish I hadn’t lied on that application, but then I would have never gotten out of that house.

Interesting side-note. I felt so bad after that first year, like everything was a lie and I was such a fraud, that I tried to transfer. This time the essay was real- it was raw. I talked of statistics. I was a female. I was from a life of government cheese and dumpster diving. I was from a violent single-parent home. I was the one in four of my friends who hadn’t been sexually molested. I was (if my mother was to be believed) a minority. Statistically, I shouldn’t be alive. Statistically, I shouldn’t succeed. Statistically, I was less than nothing. Yet here I was, applying to you the college, asking for your help in my continued success.

I was rejected from all places. Maybe I should have stuck with happy lies instead of sad truths. Such is life; we all want to live in cheerful oblivion even if everything underneath the surface is wretchedness. We want to take pills to make ourselves merry, rather than battling and defeating the demons that bring us down.

But I’m not lying anymore, especially to myself. I may have a dark past but I have a bright future, hell, even my present is pretty damn well-lit, and I won’t hide anymore, not even from myself. If a place doesn’t want to hear the truth, the true me, then I don’t want them either. It’s the only way I can be. And if I don’t want to hear the truth, I know it means there’s something there I have to explore and overcome


heavenabove said...

Personally, I don't think you should feel bad for using the essay. That was you given chance to get away. I see why you would rather have not used it but I'm glad you got one good thing (in a roundabout way) out of that horrible mother. The way you can charge her more may just be to be as successful as you can no matter what crap she does to try to bring you down. She may be talking herself up on the outside, but on the inside I'm sure it's kiling her to know that your success is in spite of her. I don't understand why parents would not want to truly support their children.

Also, congratulations on getting through college.

Victorya said...

It's a tough thing, this guilt complex heaven. And thanks for the congrats! College was really hard for me, but it allowed me the chance to finally develop a sense of 'self' outside of the home.

Amel's Realm said...

BRAVO, Vic!!! You amaze me. You're a VERY strong woman. Here's to a BRIGHT present and future!!! ^________________________^