On Being the Higher Percent

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

When I was fifteen, I considered a theory: it is possible to assign a numerical value to two people in order to measure how much they care about one another. In total, the two numbers would add up to a percentage of one hundred. The more effort, love, and curiosity one person put into the relationship, the higher their percentage would be. For example, the ratio of care between myself and, say, Justin Timberlake, would be written as ninety-nine to one; I care 99% about him while he cares 1% about me (the 1% being generous considering he doesn’t know I exist).

I truly thought this theory was groundbreaking. It explained so much! My middle school crush and I understandably never worked out; our care ratio was at a heartbreaking 70:30 (me, crush).

Over dinner, I proudly explained the basics of the theory to my family. My family has always encouraged my life contemplations, so I was surprised when they responded to my newest statement with equivocality. Between both of my parents, my mother was the more skeptical. She listed some names in order to hear me use the care meter in action, asking me to “rank” myself versus my friends, my coaches, and my family members.

I found a problem: I began to answer many of these relationships...

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