Spending my Freshman year of college in a motorized wheelchair was NOT how I wanted to begin my new “adult” life. I was finally free to explore the world outside of my hometown and I wanted to do just that. The wheelchair made it difficult for me to explore my dormitory, much less the whole world.
When I graduated from high school, the only thing I knew for certain, was that I really loved art. I researched colleges all over the country. I secretly had my heart set on one down in Georgia. Those dreams came to a halt when I realized the difference in expense for an out-of-state college paired with my mother’s intense desire for me to remain close by. Ultimately I was accepted into UNC Charlotte, only about an hour away from my home town. The summer before college began I was a whirl wind of nervous energy. I had no idea where I would end up or what I would do there.
By my Freshman year in High School it was apparent that I needed a change. More stimulation. More challenges. New surroundings. I can’t remember how exactly, but at some point I found myself talking to a few girls who attended Salem Academy, a Liberal Arts school for girls in Winston-Salem. Being from a small town where everyone knows everyone else, these girls seemed altogether other-worldly to me. They were independent, well spoken, cultured and lively. They didn’t seem to carry the same insecurities as many of the girls from my hometown. They had a zest for learning and I was immediately drawn to them. I went home and pleaded with my mother to send me there, swearing that it would keep me out of the trouble that bored kids in rural areas with limited activities often indulge in. I went for a tour of the school. I fell in love.
“Put your tongue in your mouth!” is what my parents used to say to me as I colored wildly in and around the lines of my coloring book. As a child I loved creating artwork so much and would become so engaged that I would pin my tongue between my front teeth, half hanging out of my mouth as I worked to fill in all the empty space on the page.