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What Stranger?

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Here’s a short excerpt from a longer piece titled “What Stranger? That’s Me in the Photo.” A reminiscence inspired by this actual photo.

What Stranger? That's Me in the Photo.
By Jack Dabagian
Grade Eleven, Milton High School

I had no idea what lay ahead of me. Only focusing on the present, taking carpe diem way to literally. Every photo of my childhood, every single time my face shows up in one of the million photos in my family's photo albums, they all show similar themes: sad or happy. Never a middle ground for emotions when I grew up. I either had the time of my life or was losing all sense of control.

But regardless of my emotional state, when I was aware of my picture being taken, I always smiled. I only appeared distressed in photos when I wasn't ready for a photo to be taken. Some photos are when my mom mandated me to sit or stand somewhere, either with my sisters, relatives, or myself in all my own glory. Other photos are taken like a tourist on an African safari, and I'm the animal.

The photos that register the most memory in my mind seem to be the ones of only myself. For some reason the photos are easy reminders of what was going on in the picture. Such as one where I am 2 years-old, dressed in a cow costume for Halloween that year. I remember the house in Pennsylvania, where my parents and I lived in a nice 2 story colonial style home in East Norristown. Then from this one house, spans a whole series of different little stories that branch off like limbs on a tree. Another photo is of me on my 6th birthday. In the picture, I look so happy that I cannot even make a full smile, which was and always will be abnormal for me. Then there is a photo of me in my Milton Minor League Cubs shirt, Levi jeans, Reebok sneakers, and me wearing a look that says , “Why are you looking at me?”

Ever since I can remember, I have always been the crybaby, the woos, the kid that tried way too hard to impress everyone, and that hope just never took off. These thoughts radiate from this picture, which happens to be a time where I was demonstrating the optimistic idea of impressing all my teammates and parents. I played many sports, including baseball, soccer, basketball, and lacrosse. I ended up playing soccer, and even in that game I couldn't impress anyone.

It is a very depressing theme, as I look back at my younger self. Of course, life goes on. I learned to let go of that unfeasible dream. I gradually worked my mind into a state where I didn't care what happened, whether I played well, we won the game, or if parents liked me.

Yet, even that mindset backfires, when I became reckless, only applying my new found aggressiveness into sports. This not only upsets parents, and pisses off the players on both teams. It smacks me in the face, because knowing I could be so much better is a constant reminder after every single practice, game, and even outside of sports.

The person in this snapshot is no stranger. He is an exact replica of my current self. The only changed factor is instead of whining and crying about my mistakes, I realize the mistakes. The next step is to actually fix those mistakes. The hope is I can change my personality from the person represented in this photo.

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