I finished the last day of high school today, an achievement I believe is worth of noting.
I've visited NG for such a long time, especially during the early years of my academic career. Making both friends AND foes, I have too much of a history on this site that I'd like to admit. I spent so much time on NG in the beginning to the point where I felt like school came second. When I was really into the whole community this site offered, my grades were at the lowest priority..I believe that I had a D+ average during my freshman year and had a lowly academic record that would spook the dean of admissions at all the accredited universities in the United States. I've met many people through this site, coming from different backgrounds but obviously the same interests and perhaps the same goals. School didn't seem to matter much to me back then, Tom Fulp just made life too fun to worry.
Thankfully, I did end up making a 180 and actually focusing on academia, which got me interested in other things than just digital animation. The caveat was that the more I allocated time school-related work, the less publicly active online I was. Sure, I still went on and talked to people online, but it just felt different. The intrinsic motivation to participate on this site just kind of faded away, I was more of a visitor to the game than the playing it.
The weirdest part about having an early presence online is that the personality you radiate is much more different than the one outside the screen. Your "digital persona" is constant, while your actual self may or may not develop in the real world. The username becomes a staple for that constant public image, which explains a lot of people trying to change usernames to escape into the new person they've actually become. There's no doubting it's the same case with me, just not as exaggerated. Thought of the day, folks!