Just A Five-Letter Word

I was twelve.  I always thought to myself that I peaked when I was twelve.  Picture a higher-end, third world, Catholic school classroom.  Forty wooden chairs, the ones with the side arms, arranged in neatly straight rows.  Hefty school books occupied low-stacked bookshelves flushed against one wall.  The heavy, wooden teacher’s desk, hawked from behind, looking straight to the front where the dark green, old-school chalkboard hung, full of information no one remembers now.  The walls were intentionally enhanced with hand-painted posters of positive proverbs and national heroes.  Wall fans swirled endlessly to rotate the acrid air blowing through the side wall adjacent to the outdoors, full of open crank windows dressed in mint green, lacy valances.  Mother Mary overlooked it all, as her solemn picture hovered above everyone.

I was twelve.  6th grade class president.  Editor-in-Chief of our school’s native language paper.  Inter-school math competition representative.  Humbly, one among the few in the top of my class.  I received six gold medals and a giant trophy during graduation that year, and that isn’t counting the ones I received from various academic competitions throughout the school year.  My peers undeniably saw me in that aspect; they thought of me as a leader.  When it came to class activities and group projects, I was always picked to spearhead whatever task was at hand.  That was then.  I’m not saying that I went downhill from there; but like I said before, I always thought I peaked when I was twelve.

I will say this.  I was a regular girl with a slight penchant for academia and extra-corriculars.  I wasn’t sure why my peers saw me that way, as a leader.  But I think I kinda liked it.

Now there was that one class assignment.  There’s always that one you never forget.  It was simple.  We were to re-enact a folklore, one of those that involved a king and a queen, their lowly people and a whopping life lesson learned in the end.  Our class was divided into four groups of about ten.  I was chosen to be director of the group I was in.  That was fine.  I can’t tell you the details of the story or who played who as much as I can tell you what I did.  I assigned each person in our group a character to portray and each student was supposed to provide his or her own costume.  As far as stage props were concerned, we discussed what items were needed.  It was an elaborate staging for a sixth grade classroom play, and I assigned each student whatever props to contribute.  It was decent delegation on my part.  We rehearsed our act many times that we knew we were prepared come presentation time.  So what happened the day of?

Every student in our group came and very well-prepared at that.  They all had their costumes creatively put together.  They all brought the props they were each required to bring.  What about me?  I was prepared.  Excessively.  What I ended up doing, in my quest for perfection, was take on every single detail I delegated.  Meaning…I diligently made each character’s costume and put together every single prop that we needed.  Yes.  Every single prop.  From the blue sheets that were supposed to be the ocean to the wine glasses that were part of the banquet.  I duplicated every single thing.  I had so much stuff to carry to school that morning; I had to ask my brother to help me to my classroom.

I was twelve.  I didn’t trust my group to follow through.  It was great that they did.  But they weren’t the problem.  The problem was me.  Sad.

Trust is a tricky matter.  And I can say that I’ve always had difficulty with it.  I’ve always believed that if I wanted something done and done right, then I better do it myself.  I can’t say that has changed much, although I would like it differently.  Trust is much like a hand, five-fingered.  If one finger is severed, then the hand just functions incompletely.  There’s more to trust than what is said here, and I will never commence it to be an issue.  It is what it is.  Even as a young girl, it was evident in my life.  Although I didn’t see it a shortcoming, I do so now.  And even though I think in my very own heart that I trust humanity to do what is right, I think I doubt it completely in my clouded head.

Truth is, I trust only myself after God.  If even that.  I wish it were differently.

I apologize if this feels rushed.  Blame the bottle.

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Author: Jennifer Longinos

I'm a freelance writer and a homeschooling mom of two awesome toddlers. If we aren't out on an adventure, we spend most of our days tickling each other on the bedroom floor, making things explode in the kitchen, jumping on piles of laundry before and after washing, or just doing random little things that make life absolutely worth it.

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