People ask me what I am. One would think they were referring to my ethnicity. My response is I'm a freshman. Sophomores look at me as a child. Juniors view me as useless. Seniors don't care. After school, I go home to my 8-year-old sister. We play basketball. I make all my shots; she makes none. She gives me a confused smile. We go home and she says that I'm the coolest thing on Earth. All that matters is having her think that I am her fantastic big sister, not a dumb freshman in high school.

Seemal Awan

Alexandria

Excited about selecting my first college courses, I shared with Mom the news that I was going to major in theater arts and become an actress. She smiled, looked at me and told me I had better learn something that I could earn a living doing. I now earn my living as a meeting planner, but the actress in me refuses to die. So now, when I enroll in an acting class . . . I don't tell her. Amazing the amount of courage (and talent) you find after 36 years.

Robin Dorsey

Reston

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SLUG: ST/LIS DATE: Downloaded email 08/25/2005 (EEL) CREDIT: Courtesy Robin Dorsey CAPTION: Robin Dorsey, who wrote a Life is Short piece.