Learning to Flourish | New York University Undergraduate Application Essay

“You’re ugly, and you have no friends.”

We were settling in our seats for the annual career day assembly, and Eleni Pappas turned and spat the words out at me. I blushed while she laughed, pulling her hair off her lace-trimmed shirt (which, for the record, was nothing you’d find in Vogue).

It wasn’t that I didn’t know what she said was true: my curly hair had yet to meet a flat iron, and the fifty-first US state could be discovered in the gap between my front teeth. My tattered jeans and fresh-from-the-barn odor didn’t help. She just said it so bluntly, and I was trapped, sitting defenseless and on the verge of tears as Jeremy Fine’s father spoke about his adventures as a pilot. Yet in reality, I had been trapped for all of middle school.

I had gone to my parents for help with the bullying. While they meant well with their advice, recommendations to “walk away” didn’t solve anything. Thanks to a flood of name-calling and exclusion, I spent many lunch periods nibbling my sandwich in a bathroom stall. But fast-forward four years and going home in tears is no longer a part of my daily routine. Braces helped take care of my snaggletooth grin and puberty filled the extra room in my clothes, but what my time in high school has…

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