There once lived a girl. Let’s call her…Ne. Ne was never one of those kids who found school a bore. She had good friends, teachers who always offered her a smile and was fairly good at her studies. School came easy to her. Studying she found fun because she hardly ever had to put in any serious effort. She had her whole future planned out. Life was good.
…Until it wasn’t. She lost all momentum and crashed suddenly and horribly. Doubts consumed her and fears ruled her. She was so worried about the future that she never even noticed the deplorable state her now was in. Grades fell, motivation dwindled out, easy became impossible. She found herself frequently avoiding her friends and hiding out in empty classrooms.
Before entering high school people told her how hard school was going to become. How she should get serious now. How eating ice cream and reading Paulo Coelho the night before the exam was no longer going to be acceptable. How if she didn’t change her attitude—and change it fast—then she was headed for failure. She paid no heed the first few months. Was still the easy going girl who didn’t believe in the “But my child, how very naive…”s or the “Are you sure…?”s or the “It’s hard, you know. Its time you buckled up”s. Until suddenly, for some strange reason she did. She believed them. Believed she was headed for failure. And so got serious.
But there was something those people didn’t tell her. They didn’t mention the fact that they were idiots who were so blinded by their own fears and insecurities that they were incapable of seeing the light. Sure they thought they were doing Ne a favour…but were they really? Is it necessary to break people’s bubbles and bring them crashing down to earth? Why can’t we ever just acknowledge hope and courage without calling it stupid? In ‘Her First Ball’ by Katherine Mansfield, the exhilaration and joy that Leila feels is trampled all over by the words of the old man. The old man acts as the reality check, telling her how her first ball is simply the beginning of the end; that her first ball was only the prelude to her last. Leila is devastated, confused and angry at the old man. But as a new partner whisks her away, as she finds herself twirling to a new song, she forgets all about the old man and immerses herself in the now.
But our little girl Ne, simply couldn’t. She was devastated, confused and angry. And she stays that way.