Monday, September 3, 2012

What is the Big Question?

It was a Thursday afternoon in fourth grade. I had been going to St. John's Lutheran School for about six years and was pretty confident that I had school, and all its obstacles, under control. Little did I know that I would later have the worst but also life-changing day of my life. The teacher passed back our memory test back, back then it was required to memorize bible verses and recite them for a grade, I looked down at the paper and saw the bright red F across the top of the page. I am not brilliant, but I also do not enjoy getting F's in classes and this was not my first. Amid the panic and horror, I kept wondering "How could this happen to me. am I stupid?" Then, the recess bell rang and I was out the door in a flash ready to take on the jungle gym and it's climbing pleasure. It was there that Lindsay Monasmith, a girl in my class, came up to me and asked. "Chloe, why are you so fat?" Now, being a ten year old girl with low self esteem I couldn't help but feel devastated at this question with a statement implied. It was my beginning of conforming to the societal pressure girls succumb to. I clambered off the monkey bars at that point, walked inside, went into the bathroom stall, and cried.

It had been a rough year for me. It was the year where the idea of growing up became prominent and working hard on academics had to become a main focus. It was the year where I actually did start failing things in classes and even though getting an F on an exam was shocking, it was not necessarily uncommon. When I finished crying in the stall I started wondering about what the cause of my problems were.
"Maybe I'm stupid because I fail everything."
"Maybe I'm chubby because something is wrong with me."

All these thoughts and questions were valid but only made me shameful of myself, which is something that is not acceptable in anyone's life.
By the time I got home and told my mom everything she sat me down and told me the statement that jumpstarted my academic and life motivation.

"Chloe" she said, "You're not stupid, or ugly, or fat. You are exactly who you are. Going through life, some people are not going to like that, and not everything is going to fall into place for you. But that's life, that's what has to make you seek it and embrace it."
I decided that night that it was time to advance in my life. It was time to focus on school and not expect it to come easily to me. And it was time to accept the fact that I may not be everyone's version of perfect. I grew up that day. But what does it mean to "grow up"?
When do we go from childish instinct to adult intuition? 

Lily, in Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees,  decides to grow up when she journeys to the place that holds her dead mother's secrets and the key to Lily's release from the grasps of guilt and shame. It is there that Lily knows where she came from and what she is proud to be, furthering her journey through life and learning what commands it.

The boys in William Golding's Lord of the Flies  are forced to face the reality of growing up as well. However, their rendition of "growing up" is molded by the human instinct of control and animal savagery. Growing up is not about figuring out who you will be in the end, but deciding to take the journey of making yourself who you want to be. My journey has been rough in patches, but I cannot wait to see the overall outcome of who I'm supposed to be and where I'm supposed to go.