Last year, I shared a picture of a note from Second Grade in which my teacher, Miss. Miller, noted that I was "polite and soft spoken." I added the caption that I don't recall the quiet part.
A few former classmates commented: "Oh that's how I remember you."
And it is funny, because that is not how I remember myself at all. I've thought about this for a year, friends. It's made me question my story--and I know that is dramatic; but our stories are co-written by the people in them and if the people in mine remember me entirely differently than I remember myself, then who the heck am I?
Back to 2nd grade--I find it hard to believe this is my story. I was yelled at every day of my life for talking through dinner. I had routine arguments with kids on my bus over My Little Ponies. I already had firm opinions on racism and war and guns and vaccination and the death penalty. I was endlessly explaining my brother to every kid who stared at us on the playground. And my grandfather, who loved me, was beside himself when it was clear I would not sit quietly through dinner but instead ask questions about who they voted for in every election and why (the answer was always, because they were the Republican!).
So, no, my story is not the one of a soft spoken girl.
But, can one simply erase parts of your story? No, I don't think you can. But, I do think you can rewrite it as many times as often as you want. So, here's my rewrite:
When I was a kid, I often did not speak if I did not have something to say. I had no idea how to do small talk; I only knew how to do big talk. In second grade, I told my teacher I was bored in my reading group and asked to be moved up. She told me that I wasn't a good speller and therefore needed to stay behind.
I stopped talking to her. It wasn't worth my time. I waited until the next year and I asked my Dad to talk to my new teacher. I was moved up to the higher group, where we used dictionaries to check our spelling and talked about our chapter books.
I am still a terrible speller. But spelling does not mean you are a bad reader or even a bad writer. I talk about this fact, all the time.
When I rewrite my story this way--the way that makes sense--I can see the pieces of it that I carry with me now. I often will say nothing if I have nothing to say. I guage when to fight and when to wait for a new situation. I am really good at discerning the people who be able to have their hearts and minds changed; and those who are immovable. The immovable ones I don't waste my time on--Miss. Miller may have denied me access to harder reading materials, but she taught me that sometimes you have to be patient and find the person worth unquieting yourself for.
That's my rewritten story.