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Look Up 2.0

by Em16


I was supposed to be an antidote to the past. I was born to help my parents forget their unhappy childhoods, my happiness existing to drown out their endless sorrow. I was like a bottle of white-out, meant only to erase.

I wouldn’t be limited by anything. Not by gender, as my grandmother had been. Not by divorce, as my mother had been. Not by wealth and status, as my father had been. I was supposed to have all the advantages and opportunities they so desperately wanted for their past selves. I would achieve everything they never had, without all the hurt and struggle they went through.

I was supposed to be a blank page. But how could I be? My parents lived their whole lives on the South Pole, and in their determination to escape the cold, they ran all the way to the North Pole.

The extraordinary wealth of the neighborhood where I lived did not set me free. It constricted me even further. These people were black and white sketches, all thinking the same way, while I was a kaleidoscope of thoughts. I blinded them with my vibrancy.

Unable to face me, they hid me in boxes and definitions. First, they wrote me off as a “nerd” because I was a girl who liked books and school. As if that wasn’t enough, I was written off for being “shallow” because I liked pink dresses and heavy eyeshadow. I wasn’t allowed to have dimension or nuance. I wasn’t allowed to have characteristics other than my conformity.

The past can be a joy. But it can also be a sickness. It can sit in you, as it did with me, burrowing deeper and deeper as each year passes. The pain was burned into my brain, threaded through my memories, swimming in my blood and sinews. It seemed impossible to separate this blood thirsty monster from the self I knew was hiding, afraid of what it had become.

The past can be like a cancer. There are many different types of tumors; some are non threatening, and some can easily be removed. But some stick around, spreading and mutating, re-appearing again and again. Despite all my best efforts, it felt like this past was a wound that could neither be cured nor amputated.

But I learned a garden doesn’t have to be flawless to be perfect. The grasping stems of weeds don’t diminish the perfect beauty of a rose. It’s only when those weeds begin to drown out the roses, when the sunlight meant for the flowers goes to the intruders- that’s when you start to die.

The past isn’t important. It shouldn’t be. If I spent my whole life crying over my gnarled roots, I’d never be able to see the strength of all my branches. I’d never see myself stretching up to the sky.

So I decided to look up. And I was happy with what I saw. 


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Sun May 31, 2020 12:46 pm
whatchamacallit wrote a review...



Hello Em16, I'm here to review this beautiful essay, courtesy of review day!

This is a really important subject and you wrote about it really powerfully. I loved the language you used, especially in comparisons such as

My parents lived their whole lives on the South Pole, and in their determination to escape the cold, they ran all the way to the North Pole.

It can sit in you, as it did with me, burrowing deeper and deeper as each year passes. The pain was burned into my brain, threaded through my memories, swimming in my blood and sinews.


This vibrant language makes the writing enjoyable to read but it also conveys the message really well.

You also strengthened your points by using specificity. For example, when you say
As if that wasn’t enough, I was written off for being “shallow” because I liked pink dresses and heavy eyeshadow.

You are giving the reader something specific to latch onto, instead of remaining vague so as to appear relatable to everyone, if that makes sense. Though I think a lot of people (well, girls, I guess) will find the sentiment in the above quote to be very relatable. Anyway, all that to say that the specificity is good.

As for critiques, I honestly don't have many. Your logic was good, your points were strong, and your language was engaging. I only have two very, very minor grammar nitpicks.

In the quote below, "blood thirsty" should be "bloodthirsty".
It seemed impossible to separate this blood thirsty monster from the self I knew was hiding, afraid of what it had become.


And in this quote, "non threatening" should be "non-threatening".
There are many different types of tumors; some are non threatening, and some can easily be removed.


That's it for my review, I hope it was helpful! If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

Keep writing!

whatchamacallit




Em16 says...


Thank you so much for the feedback! By the way, I love your profile picture.





No problem! And thank you! I actually chose Luna as my pfp because of last review day, when I was in team Ravenclaw!



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Mon May 25, 2020 10:37 pm
AnoCannotUserName wrote a review...



I enjoyed this very much and I love the message that's within it about how we shouldn't let our past define us. The comments I have about this more have to do with the structure and grammar of the writing than anything else.

In the first sentence, it says, "I was supposed to an antidote to the past." I think you forgot the word "be" there or if not "be", then some other word that connects the first part of the sentence to the second part.

I like the comparison of your parents trying to get away from one extreme but ended up going to the other entirely. However, the bit about trying to escape the cold makes the imagery a bit confusing. Why would someone trying to escape the cold go to a place that's just as cold? In my opinion you might be better off taking that whole cold bit away entirely or instead of doing the south pole and the north pole, do the south pole and some place really hot. That way, it really is from one extreme to the other, unbearably cold to unbearably hot.

The final thing is when you're talking about the opposition you faced in the neighborhood you grew up in, you separate it into two paragraphs but it really can be just one paragraph since it's talking about the same idea of how the neighborhood constricted you.

Please remember that my suggestions are merely suggestions and in the end this is your piece to do what you think is best to do with it. I really did love this and I loved the wording of your work. The imagery is so beautiful and you explain these heavy topics through examples that reach us and makes sense to all of us. It'a really amazing way of writing. I look forward to reading more of your stuff. Thank you for writing this!




Em16 says...


Thank you so much for the feedback! I really appreciate it. I did mean to put the word "be" in the first sentence- total slip up on my part. With the North Pole comparison, I was trying to show that the speaker's parents, in their efforts to get away from the environment of their unhappy childhood, ended up in another bad environment. I can see now that's not very clear. Again, thank you so much for the feedback!




He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.
— Friedrich Nietzsche