The 2015 scholarship essay contest is now closed.
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Below is the 2015 winning essay
Sarah Lawrence College
Compromise is an abstraction fermented into the minds of the young right alongside concepts such as "sharing" and "waiting your turn." As I've grown older, with traces of these sentiments nestled deep within my psyche, I've learned a lot about myself and how I relate to others. I've found that I fear stepping on people's toes, speaking too loudly, and taking up too much space. The possibility of crossing boundary lines or upsetting others often leads me to hold back what I need to express. The problem with compromise is that my young pushover self was taught to "meet people in the middle" just as my more outspoken, assertive peers were. The simplistic definition of compromise passed on to most everyone does little help because it simply cannot accommodate us all. Instead of teaching compromise as a method of stepping down from your convictions and meeting someone else in a foreign middle, we should spend more time teaching the young to listen, observe, and go into dealings with an open mind. If individuals were taught to approach situations with confidence and a willingness to create solutions together, we wouldn't have to go through the process of taking two completely different ideas and settling for a hastily compromised plan B. Teaching the sentiment that it's righteous to throw your own ideas away for the sake of others' can be vastly detrimental to certain personalities. People need to know that it's okay to walk away from situations and individuals whose "compromises" rob you of your agency. Not all disagreements can be made better by abandoning your ground. Compromise, in the traditional sense, can be dangerous. There are more important aspects of communication and collaboration that need to be taught early on. Individuals capable of relating and thinking outside of the box will find a natural means of collaboration that doesn't involve muting their own values and ideas. Standing tall and reaching out are much more important movements to practice than stepping down.