I Come With a Lot of Baggage
September 6, 2011 § Leave a comment
For the first time in my life, all of my “baggage” is in one place, a tiny red cabin I call home.
All my photos, letters and memorabilia — from the love notes I wrote in grade 2 to the contracts I wrote in my 30s — are all here in one place. I sleep next to them and wake up beside them. This baggage is the meat of my past. It’s heavy and loaded, and now its tangible. Reading through all of it over the last three months, I’ve gotten to experience the consistency of who I have been, and it’s quite revealing. Scribbling poetry about the cosmos into a tiny notebook in grade eight wasn’t just a phase I was going through, the writing is very much the same, the approach is consistent. I tallied up my babysitting money when I was 12 years old, in the same way that I now keep track of my bank balances, at 33. The dreams have more or less stayed the same, the disappointments also. Yet, some qualities got buried along the way: I was a great public speaker and the valedictorian of my grade seven graduation class. I was the chosen member of my grade six class to ask a public question at a province-wide science conference. But by the time I got to McGill University, at 23, I was too insecure to raise my hand in class, and so I didn’t — not once. I always knew I wanted to be a writer, and other people encouraged it too. But I lacked confidence in my talents, prefacing my letters to friends with: “I’m a bad speller.” And there were many many letters I simply never sent for this reason. I started holding back, as I’m sure most of us did, at a very young age. Looking back on these weathered scraps of my history makes me feel as though for the first time I’m seeing a consistent thread of a personality that is called me. It’s kind of like waking up as in the movie Groundhog day. Life, thoughts, circumstances, character, repeats itself over and over again, until we can finally see it clearly and transcend it.
As one of my teachers has said about all people: “You have talents that the world has never seen before and may never see again.” There is no need to be humble about this, every one of us is unique in her way and is essential to the world. We all come with baggage. Embrace yourself, the one whose always been there. What’s stopping you?