Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day 64: I had an imagination big as a barn.

Today's date forms my lucky number (113), and how lucky I was this afternoon to be able to see my darling Priya present her "Inspiration" in school.

The Inspiration speech is one which each 8th grader at Flint Hill must write and then read in front of all his/her classmates. I still remember my Inspiration (bottom of page) as the first written work in which I truly remember exploring myself and my beliefs.

Miss Priya's speech was no different, and I was overflowing with pride in the girl she is becoming as I watched this afternoon. In honor of my awesome sister, I have included the full text of the speech below.

I believe singing as loudly as you possibly can in a tone-deaf voice while going to school at 7:00 on Monday morning is one of the best things you can do. Last year, my sister’s last year of high school, I often felt agitated by her random outbursts of song while I was trying to read, listen to music, or stare into space on the morning bus. “Shut up!” I would always sputter, and I’d move to another seat. This happened frequently, and it would essentially “ruin” my day – I would end up feeling terrible about the way I shut my sister up when she was only enjoying herself, even if it was really embarrassing. But at the end of the day, this repentance and empathy just went away.

I never thought one bus ride, one person, one question would change my whole view of my sister’s constant annoying singing. A usually sullen fifth grader tapped me on the shoulder and asked, not at all innocently, “Aren’t you embarrassed of your sister?”

At that moment, I realized how shallow I was for being embarrassed by my sister, by shutting up her 1st amendment, by setting the example of thinking she was weird. Oddly firmly for me, I said, “No, I’m not.”

My sister was in clear earshot of the girl’s insolent remark, and she asked me, “Did she really just say that?” I rolled my eyes and pretended to be the thick-skinned person I am not. My sister didn’t need any consolation – after all, there was a seven year difference between her and the fifth grade girl. But if I were her, I would’ve probably hung my head in shame for the rest of the year.

It wasn’t immediately after this incident that my lifestyle changed. But I did start to look at the world around me. I started to look at people at Flint Hill. Were they being themselves? No. Were they being heavily influenced by their perceptions of what other people thought of them? Yes.

I believe in being who you really are. It is truly the only way you can feel confident about yourself. In almost every setting, it is so hard to let go of others’ opinions of you and just focus on what you want, on who you are. In the end, though, it is the only thing that can make you stronger and a better person. 
    I’ve noticed how judgmental we are about every small thing – if you make one mistake, you can never be accepted again. If you say something people get irritated by, they’ll hold a grudge forever. Lady Gaga sings, “Whether life’s disabilities left you outcast, bullied or teased, rejoice and love yourself today, ‘cause baby, you were born this way.” This quotation has meant so much to me over the past couple of months. It’s made me realize that we’re not supposed to position ourselves in a way that suits others’ judgments, but rather in a way that we can feel truly satisfied by – a way that suits our actual personalities.

I believe in being yourself. I believe in ignoring the constantly rolling eyes. I believe in admitting you are not perfect. I believe in never inhibiting your sneezes. I believe in singing as loudly as you possibly can in a tone-deaf voice while going to school at 7:00 on Monday morning.


  1. Many great people have provided us with inspiring reasons for being true to ourselves. I've never heard any inspiring reasons to do otherwise. But somehow a lot of people in The Herd seem to think this is a desirable choice, most likely because they are The Herd.

    Step out of The Herd, and be free to choose your own direction, your own opinions, and your own happiness. You two are definitely onto something! Great post.

  2. This is wonderful. Tell Priya I derived inspiration from it as well. There is nothing quite like overcoming all of that self-consciousness, worry, and angst... and embracing all of the fabulously weird, quirky, and wonderful traits that make you YOU.

    You Gill girls have got it figured out!
    Ms. Kernodle