In the months between getting laid off from my job and moving to Alabama in August (I did apply for the fellowship and was accepted), I did a lot of journal writing.
I filled four notebooks (averaging 70 pages each) in a matter of six months. Yes, I lived with pen and paper. So while I’m grateful to have some documentation of what I was going through at the time — what I felt, my worries and fears — what isn’t addressed is also quite telling.
In eighth grade we were asked to complete a form poem. Each line began with a certain phrase and we had to finish the thought. A typical response for this assignment was a bunch of random thoughts that somehow added up to introducing you a bit more, showing likes/dislikes/interests. Mine turned into something with a more mature theme.
I’ve included the template we were given to follow.
Given the content of the poem, I see this as proof for myself that I did want to help people in whatever way I could.
Yet, I’m still not sure why being kind, listening to what others say, being available and helping others were seen as secondary characteristics and behaviors. Why was seeking academic success, athletic abilities and other talents seen as more valuable? Those abilities can be taught or learned. But how you treat other people, whether you care about others or only yourself, that’s more of a fundamental thing. That really has to come first.