The First Female President (And Other Ambitions of my Childhood Self)

| December 2, 2015 | 1 Comment

We each have to find where our piece fits | photo credit: off . weg via photopin (license)

I was an ambitious kid. Not only did I want to be the president some day, but I wanted to be the first female president (my inner 8-year-old-self still views Hillary with a slightly wary side-eye). My vision for the world was that I was going to save it. I didn’t really have a plan as to how, but I wanted to make everyone happy. How’s that for a presidential platform?

I believed in myself unwaveringly in elementary school. When I went to the productions that the high school put on I would state that I was going to star in the musicals in high school. I couldn’t wait to join the middle school band. I worried about what sports I would play once I got to high school, because tennis and softball were in the same season and they were both my favorite sports–they were both sports I felt like a superstar in. I was going to go to Harvard; I was going to be a best selling author; I was going to realize all of my dreams.

At some point reality became more real and I started to realize that there were things that other people were good at that I couldn’t do or wasn’t good at. I learned that I actually couldn’t sing–that I didn’t know what a note was and couldn’t hear a tone–and that this meant I would never be able to star in a musical. I learned that even though I really loved it, I was really terrible at playing the flute. While at one point I had been deaf to this fact and made my parents’ dinner guests listen to me play holiday songs (badly) (loudly), eventually the world and my consistent place as last flute taught me that I was bad at playing music. I learned that even though I had been playing sports my whole life, I wasn’t actually very good at competing. I realized that simply wanting to do something and having a strong will to do so did not automatically guarantee that I would be any good at it.

Up until a certain point, we believe that we can do anything. Then, adolescence breaks us down and shows us all of the things that we are worse at than other people. As self-centered beings, we are so focused on our own deficiencies that we easily recognize the things that other people can do that we can’t, but it takes us longer to recognize the things that we can do and the value of those things. I was always aware that I could write, and read, and think deeply about things. But I brushed these skills off because I didn’t feel like they mattered; there was much more value in the things I couldn’t do. Eventually, I recognized that my abilities were valuable and I realized that I was not alone in my experiences of inadequacy, that other people may have wished that they could do what I was able to. I realized that what I viewed as simply my default and meaningless set of abilities was in actuality my own unique set of skills and talents. It took time, but eventually I recognized the value in these talents and in myself.

In college we capitalize on these talents and we finally focus more on what we can do than what we can’t. We choose majors that align with what we like (which generally aligns with something we are good at). We become comfortable with the fact that there are people doing things that we cannot do and we start to appreciate them for their skills rather than resent them (and ourselves) for not having those same skills. I can’t be an actor, a singer, or a musician. But I’m really glad that there are people out there who can because I enjoy their performances. I can’t research a cure for cancer, work as a therapist, or engineer a new technology. But again, I’m glad that there are other people who can and who are doing so. Everyone has a role, and each of those roles is equally important. As we rebuild and redefine ourselves after the turmoil of adolescence, we start to recognize the importance of being a specialized instrument and begin to consider what role will allow us to capitalize the most on our own talents to make a difference in the world.

I ended up in education. As I approach graduation, I consider every day what my specialized talents are. I’m trying to determine whether they are more valuable to the world and to the education system in a classroom teaching students, or in a boardroom developing policies that will allow others to work better in a classroom. I’m still figuring this out, but what I do know and what I wish I could tell my middle-school-self is that my specialized set of abilities is valuable somewhere. And so is everyone else’s.

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Mackenzie Morgan

About the Author ()

Even though she's not sure how it happened, Mackenzie is a senior. She is also a cake connoisseur, self-declared hobby architect, and co-Editor-in-Chief of Culture Shock. She hails from a small snow globe of a town deep in the mountains of Colorado and is ridiculously proud of the fact that she's half Australian. She's working towards molding young minds as she studies History Education and American Studies with a minor in Political Science, but she would also like to be a princess (or maybe a lawyer). Her weaknesses and greatest enemies include mornings, ketchup, and mascots. Mostly Mackenzie likes to tweet about sandwiches (@Kenz_LM), eat soup, look at the moon, and work towards being Hermione Granger.

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