Carolyn - Greensboro, North Carolina
Entered on October 8, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in adaptation. Adaptation has played a major role in my life as my father’s work has caused my family to move several times. Throughout my 20 years, I have been encouraged to adapt to new situations, to meet challenges and to thrive under any circumstance. I have had to observe others and rework my personality and determine which of my own values, if any, could be changed to better reflect those of the new people around me.

When I was in the fifth grade, my family moved from Indiana to Pennsylvania. It was my first experience making new friends and adapting to a new town. Lancaster was in Amish country, where people were more private, closed-off and used to a more leisurely pace. I adjusted by developing an appreciation for taking my time, but I stayed true to my outgoing nature, saying hi to strangers, joining clubs and acting in plays.

After two years, my family moved to Alabama. As a Midwesterner, I thought Southerners wore ratty shorts and wife-beaters, that they talked slowly because they were dim and that they kept cars on the lawns of their doublewides.

I soon, learned “ya’ll” is both singular and plural and that “dog” has three syllables. I ate shrimp sold from the back of a pick up truck in front of a hair salon and attended my first Mardi Gras parade.

Then, my parents told me that over Christmas break we would be moving to North Carolina. I was so disappointed and angry that I wanted to use every expletive that I knew. I had taken all that time to establish relationships and now, for the third time, I had to start all over. We arrived in North Carolina shortly after hurricane Isabelle and couldn’t find a suitable home. We lived in a small, tacky, hurricane-damaged apartment for almost a year while we had a house built. But because our house was being built in a different county than the one we were temporarily living in, I had to finish sophomore year at one school and then go to a different one for junior year. So I made no attempt to make friends or fit in. I ate lunch alone. I never talked to people. I was depressed.

But beginning my junior year, I resolved to jump into my new life as an upper classman. I played soccer, made friends, got a job. However I still wasn’t really happy. I found that I couldn’t adapt to the social rules of my school, where the girls were two-faced, snobbish and obsessed with clothes, cars and looks. I didn’t change my personality; instead I learned what I was made of, what my values were. And eventually I made amazing friends.

Learning how to take my time and to not be obsessed with material items has helped me become a better person. Having to rework my personality and determine which of my own values could be changed has made me strong and has helped me figure out what is important to me. This is why I believe in adaptation.