Thursday, March 14, 2013

I'm An Adult...?

I once read this book in college for a writing course. I don't remember the title because I'm twenty-six now, not nineteen, but it was about the changing of a perspective as one grows up. It was old.

In the beginning of the book, the young woman is going to be going to college. She is on a farm, and dislikes it immensely. She sees her parents' marriage as a sham, that they don't love each other, and they're stuck together. The two are basically at each other's throats, it seems, and they only ever see the other for the few hours before bed. Her misery is supposed to go away with college, so she leaves with high hopes.

The young woman falls in love, and she pretends to be someone she isn't. Prim and proper, not from the farms in the least bit. The man asks for her hand, and she says yes. However, he has to meet the family.

Needless to say, it turns into him slowly going away because he was ultimately embarrassed. She is more miserable than when she left, and the book goes into how she slowly gets out of her misery, and finds someone who accepts her, and matches her well.

All that love story was boring to me. Blather. Which is probably what it was, because the focus we spoke about was what interested me most: her change of view. When she was miserable, and full of hatred, she confronted her parents about them disliking one another, and they stared at their daughter as if she were crazy. Of course they didn't hate one another! But it wasn't until she began to find love again that she saw the truth of what she thought was truth. Her parents were in love... and it showed all the time. When she tried to help on the farm, both parents were always telling her to stop helping them and go to the other, as their task was surely more daunting. And they didn't see each other that often because they didn't have any other helping hands--just them running the show. And they stayed in the same bed every night.

What changed the main character's mind wasn't necessarily paying attention. Any one person can pay attention to the details, but how they observe and come to a conclusion is all based on our surroundings.

I think of this book whenever I come across a pessimist. I tend to be more of the happy sort, smiling and ready for life. I try to see the best side in anything. There's always a reason to be content. And when I'm with someone who doesn't have that mind set, I think about their situation, and what has caused them to see things as they do. I've seen homeless people dancing away with their saxophones, and the grumpiest people dressed in a thousand dollar suits, thinking every person is out to get them. Most would think the homeless person would be the saddest, as wouldn't they be trying to keep every scrap of anything, thinking the person next to them would be stealing it? And, yet, it's the man with everything that thinks this.

It was startling to me today, celebrating my birthday with some family, as we reminisced about the past. My little cousins (hellions, really), were constantly fighting and poking at each other, and my aunt brought up how often my brother and I would fight. We laughed over how my aunt saw me amongst spilt Cheerios when I was brought home from the hospital.

And then my aunt and uncle brought up my personality. My older cousin was definitely on his sugar high, laughing and licking his fork clean of ice cream, making jokes that didn't even make sense, but seemed funny to him (ah, to be 10 again). Aunt and uncle were arguing over having given him too much, but I said, "I'm pretty sure this is hereditary--I was so annoying as a child, I'm embarrassed to even see the video footage taken of me."

"No," both of them said at once.

"You were pretty quiet and shy," my uncle said, nodding, and I stared at him. Me? Quiet and shy? "You were always just kind of... Mallory. You know? Just... you."

"Maybe shy since she didn't know you very well, but you were very outgoing. You definitely knew how to throw a tantrum," my aunt said with a snort. "But, no. You were really easy. Like, super easy. Easy to please, always with a smile on your face. I don't think there was ever a moment you weren't happy." And then she looked at me, tilting her head. "Except for when you decided to have one of your tantrums, because you did those very well."

It's amazing to see this in my eyes. I always saw myself as an annoying child, jumping around as if I were on coffee. I thought I was well liked, but with a slight cringe. I've carried this for so much of my life. I thought of the book immediately, and of how my situation was. I had an older brother who loved to taunt me, with parents who were fantastic, but also were managing how to deal with our constant fights and completely different ways on how to handle situations.

Now I can see that I am still a lot like how I was when I was smaller, still to this day. I thought I'd changed--a lot--but I think I see it more as I've grown into knowing when is right for what. And that's a concept I'm unsure of how I feel, after having an idea in my head for so long of how I was.

I was the student who would read in class because she was bored with the lecture she already knew. I was the kid who cried when another was bullied, and stood up for them because no one else would. If I thought something was correct, I stood loyally and firmly by that belief, to the point of being stubborn beyond belief. And I still get loud with excitement.

I guess I haven't changed as much as I thought. But the situation around me has changed, where this is acceptable. I thought I'd changed, but it seems it was more of the atmosphere.

The idea of that method is extremely intriguing.

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