Get to Know Kendell Carlson - Distinguished Young Woman of Connecticut 2016

CT_KendallCarlsonName: Kendell Carlson

Age: 18

Hometown : Ridgefield, Connecticut 

College: Texas A&M University  

Major: Psychology  

What is your favorite food? Beef straganoff and lima beans

What is your favorite movie? UP!

Favorite Quote: ” She was unstopable and took everything she wanted with a smile” – R. M. Drake

What is your favorite time of the day? Sunrise or sunset

What is your favorite time of the year? Late September to early January

Plan ahead OR procrastinate? Plan ahead  

Paper or Plastic? Plastic

Glass half-full OR glass half-empty?  Half-full

Introvert OR extrovert? Extrovert

Cats OR Dogs? Dogs

Morning person OR night person? Night!

If you could be any color crayon, what would you be and why? I would have to say that I would be a gray crayon. Not a charcoal gray or goose gray, but more of a gray that looks pink in some lights or blue in others. A kind of gray that you can’t really tell if it’s actually      gray or not because it looks like so many different colors. I think that I would be this color because it is a soothing, calming color that can still drive you absolutely insane trying to figure out exactly what it truly is. It’s not the perfect color for everybody. Some people get too fed up trying to figure out what it is or where it belongs so they walk away or try to break the crayon out of frustration. Others just look at this crayon before putting it back in the box. But still, there are others who need this crayon to complete their picture. This is a fine way to live; I don’t want to be a crayon that everyone uses or abuses. The people who need this crayon, the people who need me, are the ones worth waiting for. I’d rather be the type of crayon that hardly ever gets used than the one that ends up broken.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you absolutely need for survival? Bear Grylls. Yeah, that’s about it. Not only is he a delicious piece of man candy, but he is a survivalist     and can make sure that I don’t die. The human company would be nice, but I’m really focused on the  surviving (and possibly escaping) aspect. If I had to choose two other things, it would most likely be         Oscar Wilde’s complete works and, most likely, my computer. It pains me to admit that, but I am rather attached to my computer and all the wonderful amenities it offers.

If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom would it be? Dorian Gray. Unquestionably, undoubtedly, without a second thought, I would love to trade places with Dorian Gray for one week. No more, no less, only one week. Dorian Gray is, to put it mildly, a horribly attractive man with a rotten soul. He has no feelings of remorse, guilt, sympathy, or pain; all he knows is what he wants, and that’s exactly what he gets. I have lived my whole life feeling things for others, andas much as emotions can be a hindrance, they are how I govern my life and make my decisions. As a result, I would love to experience what it’s like to be an absolute sociopath for just one week, just to take a break from the feelings. It would also be pretty great to be the single most attractive person in the                             world, but mostly the sociopath thing.

What is your biggest fear? There are only two things in this world that scary me enough to give me nightmares. The first is having to life a live without my twin sister, Avary. She is, honest to God, no joke, my other half; I don’t know who I am without her, and I cannot fathom a world in which I would have to be without her. I just                 wouldn’t want to live in it. She’s my rock, my light, and sometimes the source of my craziness, but I would not be even half the person I am today without her. The only other thing that gives me nightmares         is my rather absurd fear of being blind. Vision is probably my favorite sense (tied with hearing). It’s something that I’ve struggled with my whole life, but the idea of actually losing my ability to see        completely scares me. Some of my worst nightmares I have are knowing that there is something so beautiful just beyond the light, or if I could just open my eyes and see it I would be amazed, but being unable to see it.

What do you want to be when you grow up and why? I have been asked this question countless times, and I never grow tired of answering it. I want to change he world. How? By becoming a cognitive neuroscientist with a focus on research, specifically dealing with mental illness and better ways to treat these diseases other than saying, “just go get therapy, and here are some pills.” There is a history of mental illness in my family, ranging from depression to alcoholism to bi-polar disorder, and each and every time that my family sought help (which is one of the hardest things for my family to do), they were met with, “it’s all in your head. If you want to get better, you have to try harder”, and that’s not how that works. A brain is an organ, just like your stomach or                   appendix. When an illness affects any other organ, for example stomach cancer or appendicitis, the doctors will call you sick and treat you. They don’t just say, “oh, it’s all in your head, just try focusing on something else”. To treat mental illnesses any different simply because the sick organ in question also happens to house your conscious is just ridiculous. Seeing how my family was affected and how long it took them to heal without the proper care (and just how long it took them to find the proper care) inspired my passion for studying mental illness and wanting to raise awareness that it’s not a choice. It’s not a cry for attention. And to think otherwise or treat it as such is just absurd. When I say that I’m going to change the world, I’m not kidding. I will change the world, even if it’s just     for  the one person I help heal.

Describe your single-most favorite moment from your Distinguished Young Women experience. 

My single-most favorite moment from my Distinguished Young Women experience is probably one of the smallest, most insignificant moments to occur in throughout the entire program, but it meant the world to me. It wasn’t the moment I won my state, or the day I met my 50 new best friends. It wasn’t dressing as Russell from Up and having all the Girl Scouts want one of my DYW pins and put it on their own sashes. It wasn’t even volunteering at UCP and visibly seeing how just one day of service can change the lives of so many individuals. While all of these moments are ones that will stick with me for the rest of my life, my single most favorite moment happened on Finals Night.

It had been emotional, to say the least, because I had really wanted to make top 10. No representative from Connecticut has ever won, let alone made top 10, and I had dreamed of being the first and making my state proud. When my name wasn’t called, I was torn between being heartbroken that I had failed my state and being ecstatic for my friends for making it so far. It was an emotional roller coaster, and as someone who much rather prefers in dealing with logic, it was almost too much to bare at that exact moment in time. Not only did I not achieve me dream, but as the program went on it started to sink in that this was the last time I would see most of these girls (at least, during our time in Mobile). This would be the last time I could hug Ashlyn or just sit with Sophia and gossip or eat nachos and chocolate milk with Zariah, Elina, and Sarah.

Going out onto the stage for Moira’s goodbye was difficult. I was trying not to cry and trying hard to smile and trying so desperately to remember the choreography because, let’s face it, no one                   really learned it because we were all hoping we didn’t have to. It was an absolute mess on stage, but none of us seemed to care. We were just trying to have fun with our friends for the last time.

This is just me trying to set the scene. My favorite moment happened during the dance; one part had called for some girls to take ribbons off of some hanging thing and walk off stage with them. I was one of the girls chosen to do so (my only claim to fame during the program), and so was my dear friend Ashlyn. Except, when I reached for my ribbon, it was yanked out of my hands. By who, I still don’t know, but it caused me to stand like a deer in headlights in the middle of the stage for a solid five seconds. It was only five seconds, but it felt like an eternity. I scurried offstage once I realized that my    ribbon was in fact gone, only to find Ash sobbing with laughter in the wings. When I asked her what was wrong, she just looked at me, smile on her face and tears falling from her eyes, and said, “someone yanked my ribbon from my hands. Like, literally grabbed it from my hands.”

And I started laughing.

Looking back on it, this wasn’t a very funny thing. In fact, even in the moment it wasn’t really that funny, but standing here was my friend, feeling the exact same mess of emotions that I was, and all                        we could do was laugh. The previous two weeks had been leading up to that moment, the moment that we would say goodbye, the moment we would have to leave each other. The previous two weeks was all about giving us a family, only to rip them apart without so much as a goodbye after the program concluded. It was heartbreaking. It was chaos. It was truly painful. Yet, all Ashlyn and I could do was laugh.

I don’t think she quite realizes how much this meant to me. Like I said before, I am not an emotional person. I deal with rational things and judgements based on facts. Emotions hold no appeal to                     me; they’re messy, untamable, and get you into the most horrifying of situations, and yeah I was completely controlled by them that night. And I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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