Categorized | Education

Parinas: ‘The Weapon I Have Come to Love’

Editor’s Note: Ciarra-Lynn Parinas is entering her senior year at Kamehameha Schools Hawaii. She shares a personal essay she wrote for a Brigham Young University contest. Parinas was awarded third place and earned $30.
The pen is mightier than the sword. At one point in time, I wouldn’t have understood this.

I would have looked at that pen and laughed because there was no possible way a simple writing utensil could ever exceed the brute force of a steel blade. That, however, was before I indulged in creative writing and before I felt the urge to express my ideas. This was all before I believed the notion that words could speak louder than actions.

There are times, however, when spoken words aren’t obtainable. Despite the agonizing hours spent brooding over a situation or the critical analysis of the circumstances that are faced, words won’t always float from the mind to the mouth in a graceful manner.

Life sporadically throws in moments, where words are ripped from throats, leaving nothing but clusters of chaotic feelings and no way to let that all out. That moment, for me, was when my grandmother died.

I was a child, who at the time didn’t understand death. I knew there was a heaven that allowed people to rest because they completed their life, however I didn’t realize the price they pay is the life they have completed. I didn’t understand why my grandmother didn’t come home at night and wish me good mornings.

When I asked questions, no one answered me. My father gave me pained looks, and my grandfather stayed in his room, locked like a heart after it has been broken. I was left in the dark, with no one to talk to, and that was when my first story arose.

The plot centered a girl and her grandmother, and one day this little girl got separated from her grandmother. She was lost, and no one helped her find where her grandmother could be. This might seem like a simple narrative written by a child, however, it was the only time I could say what I was feeling.

I was depressed because I didn’t understand my grandmother would never return. I was infuriated that no one would tell me what was happening. I was lonely because the only person who helped my verbal words flow fluently was gone, and I didn’t know how to function without her. So, I used my words to envelop myself in a world of comfort that I could control.

That was the first spark to alight the fires of my curiosity for writing. I felt more inclined to stay to myself and express my sentiments in a notebook. Life, an unforeseeable creature, kept spitting things at me, both eventful and unfortunate, and I scribbled down every detail.

Short sentence fragments cluttered the page with arrows pointed to other sentence fragments that somehow correlated with each other. Life was confusing, and the blanket of words I used to shroud myself as a child, became a shield to cower behind from reality.

All of these feelings towards writing in my personal life occurred simultaneously with the developing fondness I had for writing as a student. Because I began writing more in my free time, writing in school was a pleasant surprise rather than some punitive trial.

It was daunting to know that my words, essentially my thoughts, would ultimately be judged by a set of erudite eyes of teachers, however, it was satisfying to see the encouraging words scrawled in red ink at the corners of my paper.

Why would this matter? How does a teacher’s opinion affect a student’s feelings about their work?

People desire to be accepted, and this is why I wrote with as much voice as possible for these class assignments. When I received a good grade on a paper, it wasn’t just the text that was getting a good grade; it was me.

The feelings I used to emphasize the concepts of my papers were commended, and I felt comfortable knowing that people understood me, pushing me to believe I wouldn’t need a shield of linguistics to hide behind. Life, however, enjoys throwing in some fast curveballs.

In the sixth grade, we received a poetry assignment; the instructions called for one free-verse poem, longer than 20 lines, focusing on a time in my life I found beautiful. I wrote about a Friday night, when I sat with my grandmother on the balcony, watching fireworks blast above the cityscape of Honolulu.

When I turned this assignment in, I was confident in the picture I lyrically painted. This confidence turned to uncertainty, however, when my sixth grade English teach told me this poem was stupid. She told me a student with my capabilities shouldn’t be writing as messily as that poem.

She excused me from her desk, and I was crushed. The words I plucked from my tightly wound heart strings, the words I had etched on a sheet of paper, the words I judged as for the thoughts in my head were deemed stupid.

A chilling rage tied knots in my stomach over the literary gauntlet thrown down that day, and I refused to ever feel like that again. I worked harder, honing my skills with a pen like a warrior sharpening his sword before combat.

Writing became my ultimate battleground; it became a place where I would test my acquired knowledge, and progressing through the years of academic wonders has only increased the arsenal of my craft.

Now, when I pick up a pen, I’m on a magical quest to slay a personal monster that reeks of doubt and fear. With every flick of my wrist, my insecurities falter at the shocking development of my writing. I was a lonely child with only a tattered composition book as a friend, who used her words as a blanket of comforting support, and as I grew, so did that blanket. That blanket wrapped itself around me that hid me away from the world, painting me invisible with only my writings to give me counsel.

Now, however, I do not have the compulsion to hide behind text. I do not have the need to defend myself with narrative wordings. I face the world, or at least my English classes, in poise, for I am armed with the weapon I fell in love with along with an array of knowledge gathered from the years of review and a challenge I always keep in my heart.

Every word of critique is a word that will benefit me, and every little mark will make me a better writer. So with an open mind and ready dictionary, I am eager to take on any task.

After all, a sword is only as powerful as the one who wields it.

Ciarra-Lynn Parinas
Class of 2015
Kamehameha Schools Hawaii

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