Scheduled Epiphany 
Samantha Haviland

Honorable Mention, International Young Writers Prize, Nonfiction

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Disclaimer: As I write this essay, attempting to embody rebellion and denounce society, I must also recognize that by writing this essay I am only fulfilling my predetermined role in societythis is a scheduled epiphany.


I am a high school sophomore Student: 512222080

Statistics from 7:45 to 8:30, Homeroom from 8:33 to 8:45, Chemistry from 8:47 to 9:30, Honors 9 English from 9:33 to 10:15, Spanish II from 10:17 to 11, Health from 11 to 11:45, lunch from 11:47 to 12:30, Geometry from 12:33to 1:15, band from 1:17 to 2:00, Creative Writing from 2:03 to 2:45. At 3:15 organized sports begin. Run, jump, and dribble for two and a half hours, then go home.

5:45, homework at the kitchen counter.
6:30, dinner.
7:00, study, with an emphasis on history, you have a test tomorrow. 9:00, pretend to go to sleep, really watch Netflix on your phone. 12:00, turn down your brightness, continue to watch Netflix.
2:00, click yes when Netflix asks you if you’re still watching.
2:03, turn your phone off and stare blankly up at your ceiling.

2:05, epiphany.

Everything is set up for us no matter which category we fall into, nerd, jock, nobody. The paths we will take are already predestined—nothing can change them.

Some of us believe we can change our path I believe this is a preprogrammed notion embedded in our brains—it alludes us to the idea of change when all you can really do is continue on your path as the scenery changes, climbing steps where steps are in place and falling when the almighty force that is fate pushes you down.

40. People who accept the beliefs stated in this passage believe in

  1. Polytheism
  2. Monotheism
  3. emperor worship
  4. papal authority

Who decided we would raise our hands in class? Who decided the youth were not allowed to go to the bathroom without permission from an authority figure?

In third grade, a boy in my class decided it was best to just piss his pants then wait for the three kids in front of him to go. At the time I was disgusted. Now I just shrug.

Would a caveman have waited?

11. Which idea of Babylonian society does this portion of the Hammurabi code of law reflect?

  1. All men were equal under the law.
  2. Fines were preferable to corporal punishment.
  3. Divisions existed between social classes.
  4. Violence was always punished with violence.

All our classes, but above all history, teach us to live in accordance with the past. If mistakes were made we must correct them, if something “worked” we continue with it, we keep it, we preserve it. History labels all the events that have ever happened as good or bad, it sorts through the laws of ancient civilizations and throws out the ones that don’t make sense.

We are given a selective view of our parent’s world and taught to live in it, taught to replicate the supposedly perfect society that came before us. We are taught to imitate not to be. They sort us into groups and give us different parts and roles like this is some kind of school play that’s already been written, already been performed a dozen times before– we are just another reiteration of the same thing. Much like this.

Couldn’t we write our own play, choose our own roles?

26. Which of the following was an effect of the turning point identified in this diagram?





They give us a map of the world everything already circled and marked and outlined, places to avoid, places to go, how to get there. The borders already drawn, enemies already made.

But how many of us actually know why the great wars started?

2. ​Which of the following was not a cause of WWI?

  1. FATE
  3. THEM
  4. US

Why can’t the rules and customs of the old dissipate and eventually disappear?

3. Which of the following brought the Byzantine Empire to an end?

  1. The capture of Constantinople by the Ottoman Empire
  2. Emperor Justinian’s attempt to reconquer the Mediterranean basin
  3. The extensive loss of territory to an expanding Persian Empire
  4. THEM

In a way, all of society is a teacher, scolding you for every “wrong doing.” Your teachers tell you how to act(wait until called upon to speak, please, Miss Haviland), your parents tell you how to act (elbows off the table Samantha), tv tells you how to act (a guy, in a dress, what a r*tard), that random annoying guy on the street tells you how to act (smile darling).

But how do we know this is how we should really act?

24. These rules are designed to help historians determine the

  1. reliability of US
  2. popularity of US
  3. differences in US
  4. laws of US

School is a form of protective software, there to reinforce the rigid structure around us. Rules on top of rules, layers on top of layers.

33. The illustration represents a society based on

a. social class

b. accumulated wealth

c. educational achievement


Do you ever think about what it would’ve been like to enter the world without a tool kit, without teachers, without language, without a history, without any references at all? To live in a world without context.

You wouldn’t know the story of Adam or Eve or even the basic history of your country. What would it be like if we were never taught about the atrocities of humanity, if we were never taught about the rise and fall of ancient empires, the assassinations of presidents? What if we were just released into the world, like turtles running from the beach, with nothing to guide us towards the sea but the big bright light in the sky? To rely solely on animal instincts, to only have what your born with.

You see an apple and you eat it. You see water and you attempt to walk on it. You see a spider and you do not crush it. You learn apples are edible, water is not solid and still have no opinion on spiders. You experience the world for the first time, no preconceived notions of what should be there and what shouldn’t be there. Society doesn’t deposit knowledge into your brains that may or may not stay, instead, you begin a trial and error process that inspires real tangible boundaries into your mind.

You are the creator of the dos and don’ts.

39. Which of the following was an effect of the events presented in the timeline?

  1. US
  2. THEM
  4. The Mongols conquered China and established the Yuan Dynasty.

I want you to think about an empty world, no one there to tell you what to do, to analyze your actions and what’s wrong, no rules, no symbols, no associations. Or at least, not yet.

Just think.

What it would be like to see clothes and not know what they’re for, to look at your naked body and not know it should be covered.

Imagine finding a gun, a relic of the past from ancient cities long ago, and not thinking about how many people it had killed.

What would it be like not knowing?

6. Which innovation most contributed to the development of the civilizations depicted in the map?

  1. SPACE
  3. TIME

All of a sudden nothing would exist but us. The abstract ideas of the universe would be gone.

Love, hate, philosophy, the big bang, time itself would seem like a completely separate entity. There’d be no concepts.

Just people, unburdened with knowledge, living an ignorant, blissful life. Unaware of pain and suffering, of death.

They walk bare on the beaches, through the forests, they give in to their desires and don’t hold out hope for tomorrow. They don’t wait. There are no long games. There are no games at all. People are blunt and straightforward with each other.

They don’t walk by each other in the halls and wave, then spend ten minutes thinking about how they waved, the way they held their hand, how long their hand stayed suspended in air or if they should have waved at all. A wave just means a wave, a hello, a greeting.

They are settled and satisfied, while current-day humanity is a bomb. A buzzing anxious, motion-sensitive land mine, just waiting to be stepped on wrong. We live our lives waiting, waiting for happiness, waiting for death. But they live their lives as animals, wandering and eating and procreating, and making rules as they go. They don’t wait to be happy.

Why do we wait?

9. Which title best completes this diagram?

  1. Elements of US
  2. Features of US
  3. Basic Components of US
  4. Human Life 50,000 Years BEFORE US

We are given this programing and we’re set to work, sometimes we glitch, sometimes we break, sometimes we are given updates.

But what if we were rebooted?

What if we were seeing everything for the first time, hard drives wiped.

36. What is the primary theme of this passage?

a. US



d. social mobility

After completing the Multiple Choice Questions please begin work on the DBQ (document-based essay),

it is worth 25% of your grade.

“In the period [OF US], people and states around the world [HAVE REJECTED THE IDEA OF THEM AS WELL AS THE CURRENT] order. [DO YOU?]”

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Samantha Haviland is a 16-year-old writer from Westchester, New York, & has just finished her sophomore year of high school at Interlochen Arts Academy.

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