By Ana | May 29, 2012
Every so often, an idea pops into my head, and I think, Wow, I haven’t thought of something that intelligent in months. It often occurs when I’m either running or driving. It happened over the weekend as I drove down the hilly roads of Massilon, Ohio.I had spent the weekend at my grandma’s and was leaving to return to campus. As I was leaving, my grandma (in her usual way) tried to pack up bags and bags of food–bread, potatoes, fruit, cookies, leftovers from dinner–for me to take back to Columbus. A literal trunkful of temptation.
Not exactly something a runner-in-training needs (more on that later).
I had to gently remind her that I do in fact have a kitchen in my apartment. That there is, in fact, food in my refrigerator, and that this refrigerator is not large. That I am not fifteen anymore and actually have to watch what I eat. That yes, I will take those oranges with me, but that’s all for now.
As I drove away, I got to thinking. If someone else witnessed that interaction, they might think, Wow, Ana’s grandma is like obsessed with feeding people…weird.
But if those were their thoughts, then it would mean they didn’t know something really important about her–something that defined her life.
She grew up in Eastern Europe during World War II. She and her family almost starved to death, and many of their friends, family, and neighbors actually did, or else were killed by violence or disease. So yeah, food is pretty important to her. She almost died for lack of it. Ask anyone who has ever truly been hungry–when you are, it’s the only thing you can think about.
Then I thought, it’s kind of like that for everyone. If you know one central, huge, giant thing about them, then probably about 95% of the stuff they do will make perfect sense. Ana’s grandma almost starved to death as a little girl. No wonder she wants to make sure everyone has enough to eat all the time.
I’m not trying to oversimplify people. My point is that there’s this one thing about each of us that has an overwhelming role above most other things in shaping who we are.
And sometimes, we might not even be aware of it yet. I’m still trying to figure out what my “one thing” is. I’ve got a couple guesses. One, in particular.
Maybe it is this: maybe, I value things and experiences that are novel and different because I spent so much of my life being afraid. Afraid of disappointing the people around me. Afraid of making mistakes. Afraid of regretting my decisions. So I always looked for things that were safe. I played the sports my parents told me to. I listened to the music everyone else did in high school and went where everyone else went on weekends. I ate my vegetables.
But now, I’m not afraid anymore. Somewhere in the last three years of college, my fear disappeared. I’m not afraid to apply to law schools out of state and plan on going to one of them. I’m not afraid to spend my summer away from home. I’m not afraid to make decisions for me and not for someone else. Even if they’re disappointed.
I’m not afraid anymore. That’s my one thing.