And I was. But the ending result is that no one in my entourage ever did take me very seriously. Not my teachers or my friends or my friends’ parents. I was funny in a ditzy kind of way, goofy even- but definitely not someone you would ask to help you change a tire.
But when I wrote, whether it was a creative writing piece or an essay on Aristotle’s Greek tragedy- I couldn’t hide the fact that, inside, I wasn’t really a space cadet. I loved to write. I loved words and how you can get an idea across- prove a point, or completely change someone’s perspective with the perfect combination. And whenever the occasion struck- I just let it rip; used vocabulary and turns of phrase I’d probably never spoken aloud.
There were two occasions where I realized my writing let people glimpse a different side of me and, in some cases, alter the way they saw me altogether.
One was my senior year of high school. Our English professor, Dr. Taylor, pulled me aside a few days before graduation. I don’t think she had addressed more than a few words to me throughout the year. She asked about my plans for college. Asked about the long-term boyfriend I was with at the time. And then she turned to me and said ‘I just wanted to tell you not to settle. I’ve read your work. I know what you’re capable of and I think you could go very, very far.’
No other teacher had ever said that to me before.
The same thing happened in college, with the professor who accompanied my study abroad group to France. We’d become a big family, and I was often the class clown. Which is why he was so surprised after reading a paper I did comparing the women’s movement in France and the United States that made him realize there ‘was more to me than meets the eye’.
Today, of course, I’ve mostly grown out of playing the dumb blonde. It helps that French people don’t understand that kind of humor and might think I’m a little retarded if I’m not careful. But writing still taps into a part of who I am- one that doesn’t get to see the light of day as much as she should. It lets me be my whole self, and I couldn’t imagine a life without it.
Thanks for reading my ‘origins’ story. I look forward to reading yours! Be sure to check out more origins entries here: