100 Percent of Something: A Reflection

By Nicky Barone, Editor-in-Chief

From the beginning of my academic career, dating back to the 1st grade with Mrs. Minardi at Wilson Elementary School, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I had made an enthralling discovery that unlocked the depths of my imagination, an experience so visceral and evocative that it changed my manner of thinking and interpreting the world for the rest of my life. It brought me to the wild plains and deserts of Australia, the hardened and treacherous battlefields of World War II, the outskirts of deep space, and beyond. For those who know anything about me, the phenomenon I am describing is writing. In the first grade, I would write stories about my classmates and recite them in front of the class about once a week. The moment Mrs. Minardi reacted positively to something I, alone, created was the moment my life philosophy and vision was birthed.

Writing, in its basest components, was not an immediate passion for me. While I was decently skilled at spelling and structure, I often struggled with genuine flow and artistry (which I continue to find difficult today). Legitimate enjoyment and fulfillment from the artistic and technical aspects of writing did not come to me until I was much older and better educated in my craft. The true satisfaction I derived from writing was the pride and happiness I felt after finishing a piece. When I finished writing (and poorly illustrating) a story, I felt a sense of contentment that I do not think I will ever be able to recreate ever again. The story was mine. The characters were mine. I took a pen and created a world from nothing. The beauty of the creative process had revealed itself to me and I was never to be the same.

In my last four years of high school, writing has been one of the most important aspects of my academic course work and extracurricular interests. From writing DBQs in Mr. Licavoli’s history class to laboratory inquiries and data analysis in AP Biology with Mrs. Press, writing across the curriculum has been a transformative and nurturing aspect of my academic life in school. The sense of ownership over my work was a feeling that continued into my teenaged years. But beginning my junior year, I had another catharsis about the craft of writing that had never occurred to me before. After writing a controversial Opinions article deriding income inequality in the United States, I received three messages from different people (some of whom I had never met): one applauding the article, one deriding me as an ungrateful socialist, and one who disagreed with my views, but applauded me for being “courageous” and expressing myself. My selfish notion of possession over my writing had transformed into a new, more universalist perspective. The writing was not mine and never was mine, it was everyone’s.

The true beauty and essence of writing derives from its impact on those who read and react to its contents. All that I’ve written has had a deep-seated purpose that goes far beyond individual gratification and creative ownership. While writing helped carve out an identity for myself while aiding in my search for self-validation and meaning, the real significance of all that I’ve written is the reaction and free-flowing dialogue it has fostered in my readership. Even if one mind thinks, even for just a moment, about something I have written, then I have done my job. My mentality used to be that my writing was special in the context of my life because it 100% belonged to me. For the first time in my life, I created and fleshed out 100% of something that had never existed before. I soon realized that this “something” belongs to everyone.

I could not thank the readership of The Caldron more for giving me the opportunity to express myself and my ideas over the past four years. I would also like to thank Ms. Baut, Mrs. Podvesker, and my co-Editor-in-Chief, Kris Schneider, for supporting the paper and making this institution one of high-quality writing and freedom of expression. I will cherish the memories I made with this newspaper for the rest of my life.

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