Light the Fire

There are a million parts of myself that I have had to leave behind, just like everyone else. Parts that I wish I was able to bring with me to hold dear, but although incredibly unfortunate, that’s not how the world works. I tend to think back to when I felt motivation and passion flowing through my veins. For years, I had so many ideas and interests, so many reasons to put my best foot forward and achieve anything and everything that I put my mind to. But that passion has dwindled and come to a simmer. It’s there, deep inside of me, but I’ve buried it under all of my doubts and insecurities. 

An article written by Laura Skryzypczyk entitled The Art of Scaring jogged my brain a bit. It uncovered some of that motivation I had left behind so long ago and I came to the realization that I am sick of leaving myself behind again and again as the victim to a world where life goes on and people are expected to move on. It’s harsh, it’s scary, but it’s the truth. In the article, Laura writes about colleges’ scare tactics and ways of trying to get a student up and moving. She compares a soft approach with the first, hard approach and the way a student reacts to each. “Those who received the first, almost shameful letter were more likely to drop out of college, and in doing so end their academic partnership.” –The Art of Scaring. Many students, no matter the grades they recieve, are inherently terrified of failure. And although it isn’t the best course of action, many believe in their flight response and decide to drop out instead. It’s easier than failing, and they feel it is their only option when resources don’t appear to be available.

The softer approach works for so many more students. It gives them the strength and motivation to succeed. It makes them feel as if they are someone worth believing in. And it got me thinking that maybe if I light the fire that used to burn so bright underneath me that I could pick up the pieces that I had left behind. I am here to work. I am here because I deserve to be here; I’ve earned my spot. So why should I just give up and fumble my way through college? What is stopping me from reaching my full potential and striving to be amazing? I answered all of my frequent questions regarding my lack of motivation with a quote by Percival Everett from I am not Sidney Poitier. The quote reads “Thank you,” I said. “I came back to this place to find something, to connect with something lost, to reunite, if not with my whole self, then with a piece of it. What I’ve discovered is that this thing is not here. In fact, it is nowhere. I have learned that my name is not my name. It seems you all know me and nothing could be further from the truth and yet you know me better than I know myself, perhaps better than I can know myself. My mother is buried not far from this auditorium, and there are no words on her headstone. As I glance out now, as I feel the weight of this trophy in my hands, as I stand like a specimen before these strangely unstrange faces, I know finally what should be written on that stone. It should say what mine will say:

I AM NOT MYSELF TODAY.”

I have read this quote so many times trying to decipher the meaning, however all text may mean different things to different people. How an author interprets their own writing may be separated from how the reader interprets it. I believe this is exactly what this quote is meant to be about. So instead I figured out what pieces resonated within me, and what speaks volumes for my inspiration is the ending “I AM NOT MYSELF TODAY.” This is because when am I ever myself these days? Without the pieces of me I’ve left behind I am not one whole like I wish to be. I am left as a victim, but that mentality is leaving me further behind than anything. Why should anyone have to be a victim? We have all been victims before, but we don’t need to be. We can take these experiences and this bad energy and throw it somewhere else that matters more. We can light the fire that we all wish we had. 

One other part of the quote that I truly understood is “…I came back to this place to find something, to connect with something lost, to reunite, if not with my whole self, then with a piece of it…” as this is a wonderful representation of what I had previously stated earlier. Using literature to connect with myself and others to fulfill what I never even knew was missing. Helping to inch my way to becoming whole once more. 

I’ve taken this course as an opportunity to continue learning about myself and others through the art of literature. Analyzing and understanding what our pasts and losses do to our interpretation. Connecting ourselves and others to these texts and epigraphs broadens our thinking, and may expand our perspectives. In this course we have touched on what it means to act in “Good Faith” vs “Bad Faith”. This conversation has motivated me to hold myself accountable and work for what I want. To take care of myself, not only by being gentle with myself but also knowing when I need to put myself together and go forward with my life. To do things that will benefit me. To be kind and considerate to everyone, including myself. This is the only way we can truly conquer life.

 No, I am not myself today. I wasn’t yesterday, and I won’t be tomorrow. But I will be again. So it is imperative that I continue trying to piece myself back together, and finding motivation and reason to put my best foot forward. Acting in good faith, holding myself accountable, and using any opportunity (such as this course) to reignite the flame and light the fire underneath me.