I am a 4.0, honor student, delinquent. I volunteer my time with refugees, keep up a rigorous academic schedule, am on multiple executive boards for extracurricular activities at my school and I have a criminal record for petty theft.

It all started back in middle school when me and my friends were bored and decided to start taking things from department stores in this shopping center right by our neighborhood. We started out small, then as we got better at it, our excursions would get riskier. We went about stealing items of clothing, belts, wallets, and even a pair of eighty dollar headphones. The more we did it, the easier it became until we started to get sloppy. One day, we entered the Kohl’s that we had been in a hundred times before and went about our regular routine when we were going to attempt to steal something. We started meandering around the store like every other shopper there and found ourselves in the bathing suit section. I found a pair of bottoms that I had to have so that was when we started the process of illegally taking the items. In the back right corner of the store was the boys dressing room which was left unattended ninety percent of the time (boys never use changing rooms, if they want to try the stuff on, they just do so in the store). It was in that dressing room that we would take our items, along with a few more decoy items so that we didn’t come out of the dressing room empty handed, and we would put on the clothing under our outer wear. Then we would leave and put the decoys back to ensure nobody expected anything.

This particular time, I wasn’t satisfied with just one bathing suit bottom. I felt like I would be wasting the trip without leaving the store with more items. That’s where we went wrong, we got sloppy. I started grabbing mascara, socks, another shirt and a bag. Before I knew it, I actually felt bad for how much stuff that we were taking. So much so that I felt obligated to purchase an item so that my conscious wouldn’t feel as guilty. I picked out an inexpensive make-up bag, paid for that one item, then exited the store. Right as we were leaving, I was about to celebrate with my friend another successful trip to Khol’s, a security guard stopped us right outside the door, asked us to follow her into the security room and empty our bags. We were caught.

To this day, I have such a vivid memory of the incident. But it wasn’t the incident that made it so memorable, it was how we reacted to it. Me and my friend ended up getting banned from any Kohl’s facilities for two years, and if we were caught in a store, we would get charged with trespassing. With this punishment, we reacted in light hearted ways. We started posting pictures of us posing outside of Kohl’s because we were not allowed inside. Two of my college essays were written about that experience. We even decided to create a documentary project for a high school class that the both of us shared. When it finally hit the two-year mark after the incident, me and my friend went back to the very Kohl’s that we were caught in two years prior. We live-streamed the event on social media and made it into a little party by going around the store causing a ruckus, but do not worry, we didn’t steal anything.

Moral of the story is that this once traumatic event that happened in our lives became inspiration for many artistic outlets. We found inspiration in the many emotions that were felt in such a short period of time. Maybe it takes an event like this one to spark artistic ideas. Maybe it takes expanding your comfort zone to feel the necessary emotions to produce something great. I believe the more emotion you have invested in a project, the better it turns out. So I encourage you, next time you get a reckless urge, do it. It may inspire you for some creative projects and might even get you into college.

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