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Alissa at the apex: am I a white sheep?

Contemplating my taste in music, film and literature to determine if I “follow the herd” like a white sheep.
Matthis Volquardsen
Grazing sheep form a graceful image, no matter alone or in a herd.

If there is one theme I learned as a young adult, it’s that introspection is vital to understanding yourself. To navigate my efflorescence, I have learned to pray, meditate and ask myself questions to know myself better.

Recently, my choice of interests and hobbies have been meandering like scattered sheep in my mind, all leading to the question, “do I like this because everyone else does or do I truly enjoy it?”

For example, my music palette ranges from spiritual and choral to Broadway, pop, disco and way too many genres to name. I’m an omnivore when it comes to music because it centers me; music truly calms every storm within me, evaporating any self-doubt and indifference. If it makes me want to sing and dance, I will most likely listen to the piece until I move on to another favorite.

Movie and film soundtracks also appear in my playlists. One honorable soundtrack I adore plays behind none other than “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” which happens to be one of my favorite fictional shows to ever grace the TV screens. I know—it may seem like I’m clearly a white sheep with this one. But, this show has stayed with me ever since I was drawn into the lovable “Gaang” on Nickelodeon.

Every time I rewatch the show, I’m reminded of pure innocence and powerful goodness, taking away something new from the multilayered story and characters. I’m a little hesitant to watch the live action TV series because of the masterpiece rank I consider the original animated series to hold, but maybe I’ll work up the courage to give it a watch.

As for literature, it’s near impossible for me to choose a memorable book because, if it contains a good message, I will most likely enjoy it. However, there is one that sticks out to me. “Before I Fall” by American Young Adult author Lauren Oliver was packed with all of my other belongings when I moved in my freshman year of college. While admittedly the story envelopes an overdone concept, “the butterfly effect,” it is coming-of-age and poetic. It’s just what I needed to read while starting college. Here is a tenacious passage, one of the most memorable for me:

“A hundred thousand butterflies take off around me, so many of them in so many brilliant colors they are like a solid rainbow, temporarily obscuring the sun. But as they wing higher and higher they reveal a landscape below us, all the green and gold and sun-drenched fields and the pink-tinged clouds drifting underneath me, and the air around me is clear and blue and sweet-smelling, and I’m laughing, laughing, laughing as I spin through the air because, of course, I haven’t been falling all this time…

I’ve been flying.”

I may be considered a white sheep, but perhaps to categorize people as such does not encapsulate all that we are. I don’t think it’s wise to think of myself negatively in this way; I follow my heart and if that leads me to “follow the herd” then I trust that it’s all in good faith. What a gift it truly is to just be unique and alive.

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About the Contributor
Alissa Van Dress
Alissa Van Dress, Campus Editor
Alissa Van Dress is a junior English major from Amherst, Ohio. She has a concentration in professional writing with minors in business, creative writing and Spanish and Hispanic Studies. Previously, Alissa served as the copy editor at The Carroll News. In addition to her current role as campus editor, Alissa is a JCU football and basketball cheerleader, a writing consultant at the JCU Writing Center, works as a digital engagement ambassador for the JCU Carroll Fund, and serves on the visual arts committee for The Carroll Review. Also, she is honored to have co-founded the Theatre Club at John Carroll University. Other than writing, some of Alissa's favorite hobbies include musical theater, vocal performance, fashion, dance and cheerleading/acrobatics. After graduation, Alissa plans to write for children's entertainment.

To contact Alissa, email her at [email protected].

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