Opinion

‘Making the cut’ is a lifetime trial

I am not sure how long I stood there in front of that classroom door, reading the list of names over and over again before finally admitting to myself that my name was not there. 

I was in the seventh grade and I was shy, self-conscious and easily discouraged. It took a great deal of strength for me to step forward and show an interest in being a part of the yearbook staff, and just as I had feared, I did not make the cut. For days, the list remained taped to that classroom door, almost like a blinking beacon of failure. I would shuffle by the list, my head hung low, praying for someone to have mercy on me and tear the wretched thing off the door, stamp it into the shiny tile floor, and scream at the Universe for causing me such pain. I fantasized that maybe, just maybe, my name had been omitted by mistake and the teacher responsible for choosing the committee would approach me apologetically, explaining that because my last name was Wilcox, I was alphabetically the final name on the list and erroneously overlooked. 

Of course, none of those things happened. When the yearbook was completed and distributed, my overly critical eye decided, with total bitterness, that the final product was of poor quality. Had I been included on the yearbook staff, I would have taken much clearer, time-sensitive photos with captions that were clever, funny and endearing. Ah, yes, it was their loss, indeed. 

The world continued to turn and I eventually tucked the experience deep into the shattered chamber of my 13-year-old heart.

I am a bit more seasoned now and I have gotten acquainted with disappointment. However, not so long ago, I found myself right back in that Caribou Junior High hallway, feeling inadequate and incapable. You see, I did not make another list, one of the most important in my life. The book I have been working on did not make the list for publication. I was surprised at my reaction because I thought my age-given wisdom would somehow soften the blow, but it did not.

We do not always claim victory, my friends. We do not always get chosen. These are difficult lessons to learn, yet they are of great value. We can walk away with remorse, or we can walk away vowing to try again. We can label ourselves as losers, or stand proud knowing that we are winners who refuse to give up.

Just what is a list, anyway? It can be discarded, torn to shreds, or tossed into the wind. It is that inner drive, belief in ourselves, and determination that matter.

Thank you for this opportunity to share my lessons and my yarns with you. Be safe, my friends.

  Belinda Hersey lives in Caribou with her husband, Kent, and their two dogs, Barney and Morgan.  You may email her at belindaouellette9@gmail.com.

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