I was hesitant at first.
AP Lang seemed the epitome of everything I had worked towards: ever since I was a child, I've held a knack for writing. Why the words from the stories I read seeped into my memory, changing my vernacular and expanding my voice, had such an influence, I don't know; but ever since I can remember, I know my love for reading exponentiated the degree of which I'm able to write and communicate. It's one of the reasons why I chose to decide to write for the Odyssey; for my voice to not only be read but heard across multiple computers, platforms and people so I'm able to make a difference-- be it ever so small.
Thus, taking AP Lang shouldn't have been as scary as I had made it out to be in my head, but nevertheless, when choosing classes for the next year, the fear was still present in my mind. What if, at the end of the day, I find that the identity I had formed around my internal voice and the praise I had received from it was nothing but a mere hyperpolarization? What if in this class, I would find that I'm not prepared and loose who I am?
Now, having completed one semester of this two-semester class-- I can't say if I was initially wrong or not.
In a way, I suppose I did loose who I was.
The first day of class was marked with a practice essay graded on a scale of 0-9, with 9 representing an essay written by the gods above and 0 marking the mere doodler. I started my essay with high hopes and spoke my opinions on the feminist movement, our prompt of the day. I received a 5; the average: 5.
I can't say I wasn't disappointed, mostly in myself, because here I was: stuck. The next essays were met with similar scores, slowly rising at times until falling back to that dreadful number. I found myself for the first time questioning my voice and who I was as a person. It was only accentuated once we began diving into deep topics: economics, sexism, religion, sexuality, and race.
It was in this class I rethought about who I was, and the world I lived in. The issue about living in such a tiny growing city in Georgia is that you become lost within its bustle. I forget there are others beyond the state border who live entirely different lives and face entirely different battles. I learned about these people in this class: how 45 million Americans live below the poverty line and why this number is a lie: the federal minimum wage is $7.25, but after taxes, is only around, if not below, $4.00 a workday-- a number extremely below what is considered the bare minimum to live upon within our society today: $18.50.
This means not only is there a rise in America's homeless and unemployed population, but a growing disparity between the working class and the elite; at the expense of the majority. Along with this, we see the ever declining health of Earth: half of the Great Barrier Reef has died due to increasing temperatures, the tiger is almost fully extinct and it has been estimated that the world will fall into complete peril as soon as 2030.
I learned about great philosophy movements, from as long ago as the abolitionists to as near as the LGBTQ+ crusade; I learned about the prevalence and differences between racial appreciation and appropriation; I learned about the transformation of segregation from being legislative to about districting: affecting the quality of schools, the lack of funding and police targeting. In all, I learned about the world; and in doing so, I learned about me.
What was my place within it?
Stepping into AP Lang, I was scared. I saw myself as a simple girl living within a diverse bubble of Georgia seeking an education, hoping to make an A. Through this class, I lost that girl: I became someone else who was both excited and hesitant to learn about the world and write my mind about it. It became a class that I was, for the first time in years, genuinely interested in and excited to be a part of. I found I wasn't just a student, but a person-- one who could and can still be a part of something greater, as all the people I had learned about in those philosophy movements had become. My writing became more about developing my own stance and personal identity around complex ideas in society, rather than trying to form a deemed correct thesis or making sure I had placed data points after every claim made.
Now at the end of the semester, I feel I've changed. I feel more confident in who I am as a person and writer, and if I could recommend anything to anyone wary about taking this class, it is to dive in and submerge yourself within it. The true lesson can only be seen when your eyes are fully open.
And before I knew it, I had finally scored a 9.