Miles Shannon Period 1, English

THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULDN’T In my adolescence, I was no stranger to bedtime stories. Before slipping into my sheets and nodding off after a long day of play, my mother would often read to me one of the stories from my yellow bookshelf. Of all of those many stories, the book titled: “The Little Engine That Could” is most prevalent in my memory. This story was about a personified steam engine train whom would consistently fail while attempting to travel up a steep hill. Alas, no matter how many times the train would fail, he would continue to aspire towards the destination while uttering the phrase “I think I can!” Oh, how I hate the story of the little engine! Though I was thoroughly amused as a pre-pubescent youngster, I now know that failure is common, if not inevitable, in my life. As I grew older, my selfconfidence continued to dwindle smaller because of many disheartening situations that I have come across throughout my life. Of these situations, I have three happenings I blame most for diminishing the pathetic, minuscule state of mind that I call my self-esteem.

The first of the three incidents commenced in seventh grade, a time when I, and many peers, where experimenting with one of the difficult and intimidating aspects of life: Females. Though once worried that all young females were plagued with a terminal, highly contagious malady known as “Cooties”, fear was later replaced with fascination most acute when involving a schoolmate named Lily. Whether it was her long brown hair, or the way that she dotted the “i’s” in her name with hearts, I saw Lily as a royal deity among paupers. Through weeks of persistent note-passing, I succeeded in making Lily my girlfriend. She liked me, I liked her; we held hands while walking and kissed upon departure. I thought

but rather a confusing statement. Ever since then I have always been more cautious and self-conscious around the opposite sex. After looking at her expression change from annoyed to sympathetic. not quite understanding. Kayla. She noticed I was still confused. I tried to parse the phrase in my head. “Lily breaks up” is a terrible sentence.” She replied. approached me. I like the color that I am. Surprisingly. I had been dumped.” she said emotionlessly. Kayla did not respond with a greeting. “Why don’t you talk like you’re . In my defense. On many occasions I get asked. I finally imbibed the information. society is such that people are expected to list themselves into a single category of race when inquired. Naturally I was born a color that I like to call “mixed”. However.things were perfect. I was born by a mother and father who are half African American and half Caucasian. but I was mistaken. The break-up was painful. but not as painful as the pain of my self-confidence constricting to a smaller size. and was getting annoyed. trying hard to comprehend. I turned around. “Miles. you get a range of obnoxious judgments and questions. It was the type of sentence that Microsoft Word would ask you to consider revising.” I said warmly. and if the answer is anything different. while standing in the lunch line. if you would call it one at all. “Lily breaks up. Lily breaks up. with little luck understanding her. and ran like a gazelle fleeing the gaping mouth of a lion. Lily’s friend. “Excuse me?” I asked. I stared blankly at her. One day. This was the first time I had been dumped. “Hello Kayla.

I would never fail to jump at the opportunity to play proudly. Even close friends will join in on the comments. I’m not sure if it was this occasion. or one like it. are painful. My dwindling self-esteem had become a social handicap. mindlessly tending to my Facebook. Every school I have been to I have had to deal with such remarks.” These statements were not uncommon. On this day I received one saying: “Miles is an Oreo: Black on the outside. I then received a third saying. When an opportunity for a solo arose. Although I had self-esteem issues. However.black?” referring to the lack of Ebonics in my vocabulary. but I have since had a much harder time opening up to new people and pursuing friends. feeling defeated. I was confident in my musical abilities. and I soon got a subsequent message saying. though meant to be playful. On Facebook there is an application where “friends” can send you anonymous messages.” I had never cried from similar remarks in the past. LACES. feeling uneasy. My most recent situation was my acceptance into LACHSA.” I began to writhe in my seat. One of the more painful situations was a day when I was at home. the statement was posted publicly. “I bet you pull a Michael Jackson and dye your skin when you are older. I ignored it. my teacher said I was the most talented kid in class. On the first day of LACHSA when I entered the school and was surrounded by many kids that I did not . “Miles isn’t black! He’s really tan. At my preceding school. I sat at my desk and wept. White on the inside. I winced as I felt the remarks obliterate another piece of my self-esteem.

the one thing I was most confident about in life. played with skill I never heard before. Music. I am but a little engine among express trains. each time less . similar and even younger in age. My opinion changed the moment I heard the auditions for the jazz combos. These schoolmates. Was it the right decision to come to this school full of many talented musicians who all mostly surpass me in musical knowledge and skill? This is a question that I have not found the answer to yet. I realized the skill level in my new school far surpassed that of LACES. I decided against auditioning. I was no longer George Clooney. expecting looks of amazement. my life has me convinced. walking aimlessly down the yellow brick road. I continue to watch the other engines pass me by as the wheels under me buckle and roll back down the hill. I walked in and sat down with a confidence level higher than George Clooney’s walking the red carpet. True or not. a feeling that I am reminded of every day I attend my school. Students next to me were then called up to perform. But no matter how many lumps of coal are spooned into my furnace. knowing that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. as if the skill was merely expected. suddenly felt like something I hadn’t come into contact with yet.know. But. all aspiring to conquer the steep hill of life. My musical esteem was replaced by an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness. The incident forced me to wonder whether or not music is my path in life. a question that I would have easily answered “yes” while attending LACES. I looked toward the judges. I was sure that I would make friends with other musicians with similar interests. but saw looks that resembled boredom. At this moment. I continue onward. but far more similar to Dorothy.

.confident and determined than when I started.

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