Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
“They’re only words on paper!” I shouted as I closed my picture book with frustration. My mother would frown at my naive six year old self while attempting to explain the fallacy of my outburst. She’d try – to no avail – to convince me that reading was a powerful tool in life. I couldn’t see the significance of some ink blotches on laminated pages. In part, I attribute my inability to realize the importance of developing my reading and writing skills to the fact that my mother was not there to instill the notion that books were much more than collections of processed trees; they are something more extraordinary: a communicable manifestation of creativity and abstractions.
I just didn’t understand that.
My mother wasn’t there to guide my development in learning English because I lived with my grandparents until I reached the age of eleven. Prior to moving to our current neighborhood, my mother and father lived in a small apartment in a poverty-stricken area. Additionally, they both worked full-time in hopes of someday achieving a future more fortunate and more lucrative than their present. Not only did they have no time to care for me, but they also wanted to ensure that I went to school in a better environment. To them, I was the greatest investment they would ever make.
I just didn’t understand that.
Yet when I was in elementary school, I was completely invested in my yearning to see my mother. I didn’t think about how magical the English language could be. After all, I only cared about books when my mother would read aloud to me on the infrequent weekends that I did get to spend with her.
I really didn’t understand.
By the time I reached high school, I’d established an intimate connection with the English language. When I moved in with my parents at age 11, English became the primary language spoken at home, a sharp contrast to the strictly Korean-speaking household I’d been accustomed to. Although the transition was challenging, I look back on it with fondness. I cultivated a love for the way words could be utilized like pieces of a jigsaw puzzles. Assemble them with grace and one can create a picture worth more than a thousand words.
I recall my initial distaste when my friend handed me a copy of The Little Prince at the beginning of 8th period during my sophomore year of high school. He had gone through the trouble of purchasing a copy of the slim children’s book just so I could read it. I didn’t understand why he was so determined. In retrospect, I should have been more grateful of his generosity. When I read The Little Prince, I instantly established an abstract, metaphysical connection with the many heart-rending experiences of the Little Prince. Through his endless adventures across the vast galaxy, the Little Prince never ceases to make new discoveries and new friends. It’s only with these invaluable experiences that Saint-Exupéry has imparted a powerful message to the Little Prince: life has as much meaning as we give it; moreover, the more purpose we endow it, the more beautiful it can be. I had never expected that a children’s book could hold such a profound message between its comically colorful pages. If works of literature meant for children can weave intricate threads of knowledge and understanding, how expansive is the legacy of thought left by authors?It’s funny how drastically my attitude towards the English language has changed. Even now, I hope that someday, with academic guidance, I can augment the passion I feel for the English language while also expanding my mind to new modes of expression granted to me by the power of the pen.
Now, I understand.