For the month of January, I’ve committed to posting every day, having accepted the 30-day challenge.
This is day 20 of 30. I missed day 19. Poor day 19. There’s a hole in my heart where day 19 should have been.
Y’all read the post from the other day and watched the video, right? Because if you didn’t, the rest of today’s post isn’t going to make much sense, so you should go do that right now.
Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
Really, it won’t take long.
Okay, ready now?
For your further entertainment, a lollipop moment of my own.
The One With The Essay
Let me set the scene: I was in 8th grade, a good student who brown-nosed through school, and in an English class with a teacher who refused to recognize my greatness. I spent most of the year in shock — how could a teacher not like me? No teacher EVER hadn’t like me before! Don’t get me wrong, she didn’t hate me, didn’t yell at me or anything like that … she just wasn’t as over-the-moon happy about every single piece of work that I turned in. The brown-noser in me didn’t like this, not one bit.
And then one day, she gave out The Assignment That Would Change My Life. By this time in the year, I had stopped trying so hard, feeling somewhat beaten down. I learned to show how much I didn’t care in that incredibly subtle, teenager-y way that kids do with the rolled eyes and snarky comments and such. But that was until The Assignment.
The Assignment was to write a descriptive essay based on a picture that we cut out of a magazine. I know — it seems pretty tame as an adult, but as a kid — a kid who just received a thesaurus for Christmas two weeks prior — it was my deliverance in 500 words or less. I rushed home, stole my Mom’s Better Homes and Gardens magazine, grabbed the scissors, my thesaurus and a glue stick and went to work.
After a few hours of arduous work, my masterpiece was finally complete. I changed pictures 3 times and rewrote it 5 times (and by “rewrote” I mean re-copy since these were the days before computers and I wanted a copy that had no scratch outs on it). I had used so many synonyms that my thesaurus was worn out. The essay was absolutely perfect.
I turned it in and then spent the next 6 days bouncing in between thinking that this was totally going to get me in good with my teacher and thinking that she was going to hate it and crush me. Or worse — she would give me another B+, tell me it was good and I would know for sure that nothing I did would differentiate myself from my peers.
And then, finally, I got it back. I looked at the front; no red marks other than a few checkmarks noting passages she liked. The grade was on the back. I could feel my heart start pounding in my chest as I slowly grabbed the corner of the paper and turned it over, closing my eyes as I did so. The paper settled into place on my desk and I opened one eye into a squint:
“Laura, really good work. You’ve surprised me and you have a lot of potential as a writer if that’s something you want to do. A.”
I opened up both eyes and read it again. What? She liked it?
She liked it. And thought I had potential. Potential that I had never even considered.
And here I am. Not writing professionally, but always keeping at it in other ways. Every once in awhile, I’ll pull out those two sentences from the back of my mind, roll them around, recreate that feeling of wonder when I first read them.
Savor the idea that someone who probably didn’t even realize it, kept me writing. I never did tell her about the effect she had on me. As life goes when you’re in 8th grade, other things happen, time moves fast and ideas of gratitude slip away if they were ever even recognized to begin with. But she made a difference in my life. Changed it for the better. Helped me become who I am today and for her it was probably nothing more than a remark on the back of a descriptive essay.
Funny how that works.