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Although I was just playing with Barbie Dolls, I managed to apply rudimentary math skills at the age of four. “How many pairs of Barbie shoes did you just put away?” I attentively counted by twos and shouted out, “Six pairs, mom!” The utilization of my at-home knowledge was eminent. At this age, I was Matilda. Everything I aspired to be – smart and intellectual, I hoped to follow in her footsteps. As Matilda surprised her class by knowing her two times tables, I surprised myself by being able to combine playtime and school time. Almost three days a week, I sat with my teacher practicing my times tables with toys. When I played with my peers, we played “restaurant,” and I was always elected to be the waitress, so I could calculate everyone’s meal totals. Because of my apparent hunger for knowledge, I was offered the chance to skip second grade, but my elementary education was too crucial not to cherish. I enjoyed being surrounded by my classmates who shared the same interests as I did.
I then grew a little older. Around the age of eleven, I was already being pressured into having a boyfriend and being told it was the right of passage into being a young female. I often found myself in a sticky predicament, “Kiss the boy! It’ll be fine!” Sorry friends, I did not anticipate playing “spin the bottle.” I think my judgment of societal norms was conspicuous. I found myself being sexualized by peers; already feeling the stress of physical perfection. At this age, I was Jo March. Her witty remarks and rebellious approach to society characterized the way I acted out on my friends and family. I didn’t care what others thought of me. In fact, I embraced the fact that those surrounding me would not think I was perfect. Jo March ultimately set the example of a strong independent woman defying what our culture wanted me to be.
Four years later, at the age of fifteen, I was myself as Elizabeth Bennet. I had a boyfriend, a decision I made by myself. At this age, I thought I knew it all. Everyone I met or had contact with was meticulously observed, and I thought my judgment was impeccable. I could hear Elizabeth’s words in my head, ‘I, who have prided myself on my discernment! I, who have valued myself on my abilities! who have often disdained the generous candour of my sister, and gratified my vanity in useless or blameable mistrust!’ Elizabeth realized that judgment was not always flawless. I also had to grasp the concept that I would not be consistently right about everyone I met, especially my boyfriend at the time.
But then as I grew to be seventeen years old, I had an epiphany. Most of the life lessons I have learned have been because of reading. Some of my earliest memories incorporate what my mother read to me as a child. Since then, my brain expanded with knowledge from witty characters and compelling plots. While these characters are trapped in a book, I continue to progress. My character advances as well as my wisdom. My life to this point has been characterized by self-improvement. Growing older and reading novels like Matilda, Pride and Prejudice, and Little Women has shaped my character greatly. However, I anticipate becoming more than just three female leads in novels. I want to continue developing intellectually throughout and become the protagonist of my own life.
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