Descriptive Essay: Defying Conformity

Defying Conformity

Coming from an illiterate past is something to not be ashamed of, but to embrace as an individual, because you know you can make a difference by being the opposite of what you have been exposed to. I realized from a very young age that I wanted to be a well educated person and a well spoken person. I knew that I had to be presentable in life. With the way job interviews are ran and the way society judges, you must have a good enough vocabulary to write an email to your boss. Look at yourself in the mirror and think about the first impression you give off to others when you speak. If you have to think negatively about it, then there is something that can be improved.

    My father’s parents, who were both born and raised in the heart of the Middle East, Syria, only spoke a couple of English words. My father has lived in two foreign countries, learned two different languages at the same time, and has seen the side of illiteracy. Both of his parents were unable to read or write English when they arrived to the United States of America. My father decided to take English courses at Temple when he arrived, which improved his vocabulary immensely. He was then able to speak to strangers, speak to his boss, and speak to himself in English. His parents continued to speak in their native tongue, but my dad progressed and rose above the expectations as he learned his new national language.

    I have a neighbor named Pat. Pat was a huge help in the making of my vocabulary. She always spoke to me as if I was an adult. Pat, who never underestimated me and who always pushed me to greater things, would express her feelings towards things in a professional manner. She set an example for me as I was growing. She taught me how to enunciate my words when I speak and always make sure I am using words correctly in a sentence, statement, or phrase. Every night, after I arrived home from sixth grade, Pat would assist me in the completion of my spelling homework. She would yell, “THAT’S NOT A SENTENCE!” And I would reply with a, “*sigh* okay, but I don’t know how to make a sentence for this word.” “Well, I don’t know what else to do except send you into the kitchen until you figure one out.” This was hell. This was something I respectfully called The Hour of Hell.

    Both of these people are huge influences, but the biggest thing that made push even harder than I already was, were the people in school. You wouldn’t believe the things I would hear come out of some of my classmates mouths’. It was as if they were raised by wolves. The vocabulary and sentence structure was horrific and something I can explain no further, because it was just that bad.

    But it made me look deeper and further into the future. At times, I was unable to think, incapable of speaking, and unable to write a single word down on my page. I was frustrated and annoyed. There were many nights where I actually cried because I thought I would turn out like my classmates if I didn’t learn to speak correctly. But I got through it because I knew I had to.

One of biggest struggles I had while learning to speak correctly, was getting out of the habit of saying “like” every five words. “Like, I wonder what it would be like, if like, I didn’t know how to, like, speak? Like, you know?” That would be a sentence I would have said or at least something like that. I know many people who say the word “like” three or four times in one sentence. I say to them, “Was it like or was it?” That’s something that was said to me on a daily basis, up until I dropped the habit.

The National School Project is an organization that helps students express their individuality. They are responsible for creating the book called “Young American Poetry Digest.” A couple of years ago I entered a contest, that was run by the National School Project, to see if I could get the chance to have one my poems published in their book. I was finally confident enough to share my pieces of writing. So, I sent in about eight. A few months went by and I finally got the letter from them. I stood in my doorway for a minute thinking to myself “whether I’m in or not, I’m still a winner.” Slowly, I started to tear open the white envelope. I took out the letter, unfolded it and read the first word of the paragraph. “Congratulations...” You can imagine my excitement. The feeling of success was erupting in my body.

    Defying conformity can really change the  course of your life. My dad decided to take the road not taken. He showed me what is possible and what you can achieve with a little elbow grease. As I advance through my career, I become more aware of what the future holds for me. Education is the key to success and without literacy, you will never be able to achieve the ultimate goal.

Salty sea air

blows against the brittle body

sea crystals sticking

- Rahed Albarouki