The reason I tried so hard in school was twofold. First, I needed to prove I was special, worthy, important—someone other than the sinful, overly passionate, loved yet deeply flawed, lesser-than [female] human I felt I was in my parents’ eyes and in the eyes of their religion. Also, it was my ticket out. After taking some college classes online during high school (a battle in itself) and getting above 100% in each one, I told myself I would not go to college if it wasn’t the very best one. I saw in US News and World Report (my parents started getting news magazines after 9/11 because they felt they should probably stay a little informed about what was going on—of course my mother reviewed and censored them before we saw them) that Yale University was the most competitive college in the US. So that was the one. I applied. I had to find testing centers for the SAT 1 and 2s. I had to pay for the tests and drive myself there. I can’t recall, but I probably lied to my parents about where I was going. I had to pay the $75 application fee myself. It was so much money. That’s partly why I didn’t apply to my backups, Harvard and St. John’s College. The costs added up so fast. Though my grades and test scores were stellar, I knew my academic situation wasn’t very impressive, because my school wasn’t. So I sold Yale on my writing. I included four poems in my application and wrote about how I would be a great writer. They accepted me. Early admissions. Class of 2010. They even sent me a free t-shirt. It was much too big.