A Place in History
By Kristina Dawoud
This memoir is about realizing a place in history is out there, you just have to find it.
A place in history. That phrase has lingered in my ears and has stayed in my head for a long time. It’s such a weird thing to think about, how one is able to have a place in history, much like a stamp on an envelope.
Having a place in history is so strange to me. I should be excited: I say an opinion about something I believe in and then it gets documented. That’s supposed to be a good thing. But when I say something, I feel like no words come out. I feel as though I’m trapped. My throat is clogged, I’m suffocating, gasping for air by the seconds, but no one is noticing.
It’s like I’m fighting for my place in history and that’s what makes the whole concept so bizzare. And of course, many people in history have rightfully earned their stamp and now have a legacy that sets a reminder to aspiring young people who wish to move forward.
But with all the empowerment that fills the atmosphere I walk in, I still feel stuck. I feel lost like a puppy trying to find its way back home. I hear all these great things about kids my age doing something successful with their lives and I’m just sedentary, not moving a muscle.
I feel like I want to do something, but my feet are glued to the pavement. The pavement that someone who made history might’ve walked on. The pavement our relatives may have walked on. The pavement we walk every day to school to learn something. To become something. To have a place in history.
But achieving this takes courage, takes practice, takes a lot of patience that I know I’m not ready for just yet. A place in history reminds me of a placemark on a map. A destination, a goal. And I don’t really have a set direction on what I want to do and where I want to go. And thus, my place in history remains ambiguous, continuously asking myself “Why?” and ”What if?”
What if I am on the right track? For example, I’m part of the Leaders program at my high school. This program has taught me leadership skills by being a teacher’s assistant for a gym class. I joined the program on the recommendation of my gym teacher sophomore year. She saw potential in me that I never saw in myself. I signed up, but I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Junior year came along and other kids who were interested in the program were all placed in a class called Leaders In Training. The class rules were discussed and my interest peaked. I wanted to be in the Leaders program and so I pushed. I pushed and pushed until the trainer told me I wasn’t fit. I grew mad, ranted to my friends, and proved him wrong until finally, I earned a spot.
Being in the Leaders program has made me grow as a person. Leaders gave me the opportunity to be confident in speaking. I never used to say what was on my mind, now people consider me to be talkative. I also gained confidence in being a part of the student body. Many teachers throughout the years have told me to be more involved in extracurricular activities and I always brushed them off. At the time, my daily routine consisted of going to school and coming home to finish homework. Now, I participate in different school activities, such as International Food Festival, competitions from the sports teams my school offers, and being part of the school’s choir. The Leaders program has shaped me into a better person, into the person I am proud to be.
I lead by example. Throughout history, there have been women like me who have questioned their leadership abilities and have had to overcome adversity. One of these historical figures is Coco Chanel. I first learned about her from a paper I wrote in middle school. Women’s fashion always interested me and learning about how she made herself known when everyone turned her down really motivated me to want to do something along those lines. Up until my junior year of high school, I wanted to be a stylist. I would plan out different outfits on myself as well as my friends. But I soon learned there was a difference between doing something you love and having that as a job. In psychology, they call this intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. While I still love beauty and fashion, I wouldn’t want that to be a profession I want to take on in the future. It would make me feel unmotivated if I did something I love as a profession because I’m doing it for a reward and not because I genuinely like it. For a long time, I didn’t know what I wanted to do in the future, but because of my time in Leaders, I gained confidence in my abilities. And I can confidently say I want to be a writer and an educator. Through these professions, I will have a positive impact on people and will find my place in history.
Kristina Dawoud is a class of 2020 Girls Write Now mentee based in Queens, NY.