Break Your Neck!

Prompt: Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, which marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

My transition from a mermaid to a scientist wasn’t necessarily my choice, but boy am I glad it happened.

“Five more minutes, dad!” was all you heard, and wrinkled hands waving frantically in the air were all you saw. I remember splashing around and attempting to swim with my legs crossed in mermaid fashion. When adults asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up, I remember replying “a mermaid.” This childish fantasy lived on until the day of the accident in third grade. One minute I was sliding down a snow hill at recess, and the next I was laying face down with a broken neck. I sat down on that cold examination table in the neurologist’s office and the last thing on my mind was my dream of being a mermaid. Vertebral Compression Fracture was the diagnosis, and three months of bracing with over a year of physical therapy was the order. My childhood fantasy had come to an end, but I now realize that the accident put me on a path to developing an adult ambition.

I spent the next few months (jealously) staring at the fish in my classroom tank while all the other kids were at recess. I became fascinated with them; I would study them and take notes on their behavior while subconsciously longing to be like them. I remember getting...

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