College Essay: Finding My Best Self

Kaya Williams
Kaya Williams

As a toddler, I wanted to know what happened in Applebee’s kitchen. So, I looked. Even though I don’t remember it, my family loves to tell that story. I had always been outgoing, curious and loved meeting new people. A single day at summer camp changed that. I became a quiet kid with little trust. I don’t want to be the person who blames it all on trauma, but in my case, I can.

The summer after seventh grade, I was super excited about sailing camp: learning to sail, knowing your boundaries in the water and making memories with my friends. The last day of camp, we hopped on the boats one last time. We were supposed to have two counselors on the boat, but our female counselor was using the bathroom.

The male counselor decided to launch. He was a pretty weird guy, but I assumed it was because he was an adult. When we got out in the water, everything was fine until he started to sail away from the group. When we returned to camp, I went straight to my friends, holding in tears.

We headed to the bathrooms to change out of our swimsuits; I sat in the stall shaking and told them what happened. I didn’t know the female counselor was in the bathroom with us. She reported it to the head of the camp, and I found myself telling my mom what happened in a meeting.

When I got home, my mom called the police right away. They were at our house at around 8:15 p.m. and recorded my account. My mom and I both cried. They left us with nothing more than a “thank you.” The house was quiet for days. 

I began eighth grade with a broken heart and zero trust in men. I also stopped wearing anything “revealing.” I started to act out and get into trouble. After months of looking, my mom found me the right therapist. She had other things in the room, such as fidgets, to keep my mind from wandering so much.

 Along with this, the only other constant was basketball. As I worked on myself, I began to see how that could translate to the court. My best self shows up on the court. I started saying to myself, “This isn’t you.” Through hard work and ambition, I learned how to find that outgoing kid again. I may not have been 100%, but I got healthier. 

I’ve been playing basketball since kindergarten, but I started to take it seriously about two years ago. Ever since my sexual harassment, I’ve used it as something to get away from the noise, disrespect and tough memories. I may have some rough games, but basketball has always been there for me. Basketball pushes me for the better, and helps me cope and think about my future.

 Another thing that I use a lot when I am trying to get away is spending time with the people I love. What better way to escape than spending time with the people who bring you joy? My family and friends put a smile on my face unlike anyone else. These are the people who give me a reason to get up in the morning. These are the people who help me live without doubts. 

If everything works out for me, I will witness my people and family watching me play in college and maybe, down the road, in the WNBA. After that, I may come home to visit them from medical school, where I become one of just a handful of Black women who are anesthesiologists