Undefined with Purpose

By , East Grenwich, RI
When looking at a picture of someone, what does one typically see? They see a person standing there but all they seem to see is what they want to see. They see the “outside” of people. They begin imagining stereotypical views of that person. Before even meeting the person or talking to the person, they make judgments. Whether true or false, these judgments are what guide the overall view of people today in society. Now, when looking in the mirror at oneself, people see something different. For example, I know a girl that when she looks at her reflection she see a teenage girl in high school, with medium length dirty-blonde hair with some natural highlights, common greenish-blue eyes, and minor blemishes that one typically wishes not to be there. She then notices her brother's beliefs of having man hands, and ogre feet. But does his description make her any less of a girl? Or a person for that matter? And then she tries to see her mom's description of a girl “with a beautiful body”, and she thinks of all the times her mom has taken her shopping or taken her to a spa for mother-daughter bonding time. But one can only tell so much from just physical characteristics. Do those physical characteristics really define people? When one looks deep beneath the surface, more often than not, they discover something different. Something unique.

Reflecting on oneself can be tricky because there can be so many sides to people. And different people see different sides. Even this girl believes she displays many sides. For example, a sister, daughter, friend, girlfriend, leader, student, teenager, and athlete all show through in her personality. How can one choose? Why should one have to be given a certain title? Is there one that defines people more than the others? My guess is that all those listed above are just sub categories under one key definition: Human. Here stands a girl who is trying to find her purpose in life in such a difficult time where there is so much pressure to demonstrate that purpose. And as she is trying to develop herself even deeper, she realizes that life is not about finding oneself...it is about creating oneself.

When the girl looks in that mirror, a few vivid pictures stand out in her mind. First and foremost, she sees the girl in the jeans and the Brown University sweatshirt. This girl is undefined. She can be whoever she wants to be and she can lead her life the way she wants. Then, she sees the black jacket and suit with the clean and professional blue shirt underneath that she wore the day of the mock trial. This specific attire speaks volumes about the powerful, independent side of her that shows she is ready to take on the corporate world. But then she sees the girl who is dressed in gray avenger sweatpants with a warm, oversized-sweatshirt ready to get into her cozy bed with penguin sheets, while listening to soothing music. Here is the laid-back, relaxed and timid girl who just wants time to think and reflect about life. Next, one sees the girl dressed in the head-to-toe black, soccer uniform, fully loaded with shin guards and cleats. This combines to look like a formidable opponent, who is still growing in size and is bigger than people she used to be much smaller than. Finally, I see the girl who is dressed up for a Friday night date with a respectable, yet stylish outfit. A hint of makeup lightly blankets the girl's face trying to hide the blemishes,but accentuates the beauties, while the small amount of perfume faintly fills the air. After observing these many sides, one can tell that there is more to people than just their outward appearance. Yes, people can change how they look on the outer surface, but they are merely reflecting their many sides on the interior.

Everyone knows that school is a place for learning academics such as algebra. Fun right? But what not everyone realizes is that students take away a lot of lessons in life and social skills. As students walk through the hallways a million judgments of other students dance around in their head of how people dress, who they are friends with, the things they talk about. Basically adding up to everyone's definition of “cool”. Eww, look at that dress. OMG she is such a slut. Ugh he is sooo ugly. Who would ever be friends with them? I wish I were as pretty as she is, she has a million guys all over her. However, all these thoughts are lacking what truly defines people. Even if people do not realize how they are defining people, everybody does it, every single day. Our society is filled with stereotypical judgments and false accusations. As the girl stands in the mirror and looks at the girl staring back at her, she asks herself? How can I be different? What is it that I can do, say, or think to change this terrible habit? Although she wants to change, she even has her own judgment scale. It is a scale from one to five, five being the most “popular” and one being the least “popular”. Being friends with people from all five groups, she most likely falls somewhere in the middle of this scale. Even though she is supposed to want to climb the popularity ladder, she knows that she is not in one particular group, and that she does not have to be. In truth, she does not want to because she knows that what “group” one is in in high school will not matter later in life and it will not define a person forever. Although she knows these concepts…it does not mean that she never questions it. She asks herself if she could just picture herself in another group, would she join it or would she walk away. Her answer changes from day to day as she experiences both positives and negatives for each group.

If people take a look into this girl's life, they may realize that some of the little details and memories show more of the girls true self, than some of the bigger ideas such as athletics and school. They would notice that she may not be a genius, but she is smart, even if she does not seem to realize it at times. They would also notice that in order to achieve her goals, she must work hard. Her accomplishments are not based purely on natural talent. People might also observe that she can do most things that she really sets her mind to, but nobody would be able to convince her unless it was a part of her values. Following through on everything she sets out to do, she is determined. After knowing that this girl has never missed a day of school in her entire life, one could probably tell that she is committed -- or that she simply has a strong immune system. If one lived in the same house as her and her family, they would see that the girl can be very stubborn. The girl thinks of it more as strength and independence rather than stubbornness. She rarely takes advice from her mother even if her mother always seems to be right. However this “stubbornness” as some call it transfers into tenaciousness on the field or the court. And that is what makes her such a competitor. She is not afraid to stand in the way of oncoming opponents and she is not afraid to make her own choices. Because if this "stubbornness" however, she fails to realize sometimes that she is not alone. She has friends and family supporting her the whole time.

For example, when she was given the choice of playing on junior varsity, or varsity soccer, she chose JV because she felt she would get more out of it, and because she had unfinished business from the year before. She thought to herself: why would I play on a team that does not appreciate me? Why not play on a team that is actually enjoyable and meaningful? Most would take the choice of playing varsity simply because it is a status-raiser, meaning she would spend more time with all the upperclassmen and "popular" girls. This example displays her loyalty, her determination, and her fearlessness to make her own choices.

Over the past couple of years, this girl has grown and developed into a leader. Whether she wants to be or not, some people do look up to her. Being captain of her soccer team, she helps her team stay motivated and together. She helps lead her team to success both on and off the field. Part of being a leader is facing one's fears. In the mock trial for example, she faced her fears of being responsible and was successful. The girl fears making mistakes and she fears disappointment, but she also realizes that mistakes are part of life. They are what force growth upon people. How can people learn and grow into a better person if they do not make mistakes, if they do not learn from these mistakes? After reluctantly attending leadership camps over the summer, she wanted to change. She wanted to make more of a difference on others. But desire often falls short of reality. She is afraid. When the girl looks in that mirror, she is still hesitant of changing. Perhaps, that hesitance fades away with time. Who knows? However, one counselor at the leadership camp wrote a short letter to her saying "From our very first exchange (with you and your family in your room), I knew you were fantastic. You lead from the middle, making other people around you feel accepted and not afraid. Even though you think and hope no one notices you, you always try to do the right thing, you always listen and observe. In the meantime, you manage to have fun and involve other people...Thank your parents for raising such a conscientious young lady, xo, Stacey". This short letter meant a lot to the girl because she never realized she made such an impact on others.

The concept of family is an important value to many Americans. Well the same goes for this girl. When analyzing a person, a common way to learn things about the person is to look at their family. This girl has a small, but normal family consisting of a brother and two parents. Having a sibling can really change a person. Growing up with a brother with a one year age difference causes a very strong bond between the two. Over 15 years, the brother and sister have had both ups and downs…like any other family. Having an older brother to watch over you can be a great comfort. It is comforting to feel that security from her brother. She also enjoys having someone that will always be there for her, and someone that she can trust. But although there are many joys to having such a close relationship, there can also be drawbacks. Sometimes the girl feels as though she is always in the shadow of her brother. With her brother getting straight A's, and being popular, one has to wonder what it would be like to live without expectations. Now some people care and some people do not, but this girl feels as though she is expected to be as smart as her brother just because he did certain things. But she also knows that there are things that she is “better” at than her brother, such as sports. She wants her parents to realize that she is not her brother, and that she never will be. She secretly wants her parents to love her for who she IS rather than be disappointed for who she is NOT.

When the girl was five years old and playing in her first ever soccer game, one key moment stands out. This moment speaks volumes even today as she looks at herself in the mirror. Her jersey was a ugly forest green that was not appealing to five year old girls. Because of this she wore hot pink socks so that everybody could see her. She wanted to stand out. She was the only girl on the team. Now, everyone knows that recreational soccer at a very young age is not very organized. All the players just chase after the ball in one big group. There is no structure or format, just 16 players running around huddling over the ball. Yes, this girl was part of this “glump” of people, but more often than not, she was always the first one out of the glump…with the ball at her feet, and everyone trailing behind her. One could see this as meaning nothing, but I see it as the beginning of a unique person. This game was the start to a life filled with purpose.

“This girl” is me. Now I believe I have not found my purpose in life quite yet, but I am well on my way. And I will continue to strive to be different…and to make a difference, in others, and in myself. I have passion for the things I love, but I need to learn to channel that passion into making the best choices. I believe I have many stereotypical sides to me including the sister, daughter, friend, leader, girlfriend, athlete, student, etc. But those are not what define me. I am undefined. The only definition I will ever live by is my own. The minute I let someone define me as something I may or may not be, I have lost all the purpose in my life. When I look in the mirror at myself, I see purpose. Oliver Wendell Holmes once said that "Greatness is not where we stand but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it, but sail we must and not drift nor lie at anchor". I must keep on pushing forward, remembering the past, but not dwell upon it. There will be blessings and curses throughout life, but I will not let those waves drown me.





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