For as long as I can remember, reading and writing have always been constant sources of joy and growth for me. As a little girl, I would voraciously read books above my reading level. I wrote poems, songs and stories. I tried to use complex vocabulary in my conversations, and I immediately asked my parents what a word meant if I didn’t know it.
So it came as a pleasant surprise when I was selected to join a small group of my second grade classmates to participate in a schoolwide spelling bee. I was going up against the big kids, and I wanted to prove that I had what it took. The first round was an introduction whereby each of us headed up to the microphone to spell out our first names. I effortlessly spelled R-e-m-y before taking my seat, excited for my next word. As I looked out into the sea of students, faculty and families, I found the faces of my parents shining with pride.
I was ready. I waited patiently for my turn, clapping good-naturedly as each of my peers took their turn at the microphone. It seemed to take forever, but I finally heard my number being called. I stood up and walked slowly to the microphone, anxiously wondering what word I would be given. The judge announced, “Remy, your word is purple.”
I beamed with excitement. My bedroom walls were painted purple. My backpack boasted different shades of purple. I spent hours over the summer painstakingly picking purple school supplies. Needless to say, it was my favorite color. I rushed to grab the microphone and blurted, “Purple, p-u-r-p-l-a, purple.” I froze. It couldn’t be. I had said the word so fast that I accidentally spelled it incorrectly. As I processed what had just happened, I saw the faces of my parents reflecting the same shock I was feeling.
After that fateful incident, my spelling bee days were over. But I learned very valuable lessons that day: good things take time, and words are powerful. Since the second grade, I continue to learn these lessons again and again, and they have served me well. I have developed patience and tenacity, and my interminable optimism has only grown. The lesson that good things take time has made the process of writing, especially for La Verne Magazine, all the more rewarding for me.
The second lesson that words are powerful has been significantly relevant in recent months. Living through a pandemic is a strange and stressful journey, but it is one that has taught me how history is recorded. The words we choose to define our present will one day influence our future. Thankfully, I have learned to slow down and spell my words correctly.