My Unconventional Corset

Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud, and how does it relate to the person you are?

I grew up with pictures of Philips Academy Andover plastered on my bedroom walls, closets, and shelves, each meticulously clipped from the 20 alumni magazines whose contents I knew by heart. When my acceptance letter arrived in my freshman year, I could not contain my ecstasy – which was in direct proportion with my subsequent disappointment when my idiopathic right rotary scoliosis prevented me from enrolling.

When I was diagnosed at the age of ten, the severity warranted surgery, which was extremely dangerous, since any damage to the constellation of crucial nerves around the spine could result in paralysis. The high risks led me to reject the surgery and opt for a full body back brace, physical therapy, and swimming in the hopes of improving my condition to within a milder range of curvature and inconvenience.

Enduring the pain of pressurized air-bags compressing against my spine in 100 degree Taiwan weather for eighteen hours a day was actually relatively easy. Even the extra hour and a half I spent practicing my spinal exercises each day (and my inability to find hoodies to conceal the hump my back brace created) were a breeze compared to my struggle with the unfairness of it all.

After repeated rotations of distress, I...

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