A Woman of Vision
By: Mai Mangin ‘16
Swinging my legs on the stone wall before the back entrance of Catherine McAuley, I picture myself in elementary and middle school. I wore a Catholic schoolgirl uniform for most of my life, so there isn’t much difference from then to now. But in every setting I conjure, I was always hunched over a book (usually fantasy, but I was more picky about my food than my books). In the few noisy, stolen minutes before class started and before we were dismissed, I read. I sat on the cold concrete steps in front of the door during recess, and I read. My mom drove me home, I dutifully completed my homework, and I read. In the bathroom, I read. Lying on my stomach by the nightlight, I read.
I feel like being honest with myself today, so here it is: I read because I was dissatisfied with my life. I read because the characters in the books seemed more interesting (and far easier to talk to) than people in real life. I read because I wanted to learn more (and eventually, everything), but I was content in my true ignorance. Most of all, I read because I was lonely. I imagined that I had this wonderful, lively, funny person trapped inside of me, and in the right place and the right time she would gush right out and take the world by storm. I imagined being popular, cool, well-liked. I imagined being a wholly different, and ultimately better, person.
The problem with this dream (from a girl filled to bursting with dreams) is that I would change everything about myself to fit this image. When I came to McAuley, I realized that I didn’t need to change anything about myself. I needed to accept and express. For me, that’s the most amazing part about McAuley. I was free to become whoever I wanted to be, without fear or judgement. I played field hockey and lacrosse for the first time, and fell instantly in love. I cut my hair short. I performed in our school’s one-act play (all right, I was an understudy, but still). I co-created a club celebrating nerds of all kinds with one of my best friends. And because I am free to be who I wanted, I have found other people who love me as I am and whom I love in return. I still prefer listening to speaking unless I am particularly passionate about the topic, but I’m definitely not afraid to voice my opinion anymore. I sing along to Disney songs and dance spontaneously.
Now, if you excuse me, I have a Maine Youth Charter statement about female objectification to write, a Harry Potter skit to learn, Mock Trial direct examination questions to memorize, and a slumber party to organize. I am constantly busy, but I am living in the moment for the first time in my life – and looking towards the future with a clear vision.