What I Know For Sure

We can’t all be stars… but we can all twinkle.

These are the words that have been on my bedroom wall since I was ten years old.

These words I believe.

I loved to learn words when I was little. I devoured them. Sometimes though, I found that there wasn’t a word for the feeling I wanted to describe. I called those moments “twinges”. I recall one “twinge moment” where at four or five years old I stood in the backyard in the rain with my hood above my head, and I felt so gloriously happy for the rain that I could have danced, though I didn’t know why. Now I suppose I’d call something like this a twinkle. To me, a twinkle is a nuance of life, a little thing that makes a day better. It’s a humble appreciation of not only the little things around me, but also of the little things in myself.

Humilis is the Greek word for humility; the quality of being humble, not proud or arrogant. This I’ve always aimed to adopt. I’ve always thought that I was one to twinkle, rather than be an outright star. As well as being an introvert, the quality of being the centre of the room has never appealed to me. I know enough of my own quiet confidence to understand my own little place in the world and I’d rather be a part of a big beautiful collective than to stand quiet and lonely on my own.

Hubris is defined as “extreme pride or self-confidence.” In Ancient Greece, if a man’s hubris offended the Gods, it was typically punished. I recently performed in a play at my school where the central theme was ego. I learned that those who speak extremely highly of their own strengths don’t really know themselves at all. In my personal belief, excessive presumption of one’s abilities can create a façade, for one typically can’t see their own character or how others truly perceive them.

61a987063f15cea4fa039aad221f75caHumbleness. It is a quality I admire. I understand that there are stars and fireworks and people who even live and work and desire to be so grand. But still, not all of us can be that, and as for myself, I don’t want to be. I don’t mean that I desire to do minuscule things – I do in fact have aspirations so big that my brain hurts to think about them all. I simply want to keep my head and live in simplicity. Humility is a finely balanced state that takes a lot of practice, like meditation. Meditation and humbleness are connected in that they require a great amount of gratitude to make for a genuine life. Gratitude, in my definition, is similar to the Indian word Namaste – the twinkle in me recognizes and honours the twinkle in you.

Not only is gratitude looking for the good in people, it’s looking for the good in life as well. Little things like the beautiful smell of bakeries excites me, or walking into my favourite class, or standing in my backyard in the rain. These things make me want to live in the moment and never leave. These daily twinkles I believe.

I was told recently by a favourite teacher of mine that I shouldn’t be so worried about the future because I will surely do great things. He said that anything that I plan to do after high school will be magical and exciting simply because I’ll be the one doing it. This is one of the greatest gifts of words I’ve ever been given, and that is not just because I’m apprehensive and anxious about leaving high school. In my own interpretation, I believe he was trying to say that I have a twinkle. I suppose my own personal twinkle is what makes me who I am. I am humble and small yet I can build mountains by hand. I do not have to sound all my trumpets to gain the love I need. All these things I have within myself. It’s just like Dorothy once said, “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard.”

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10 thoughts on “What I Know For Sure

  1. Dear Alissa,

    First off I must offer my congratulations to you. This piece glows with a certain sincerity that I myself have always found near impossible to convey in my own writings. To be able to turn words on a page into a voice in your readers mind is no simple task, but it is a herculean effort to make that voice sound genuine. Phrases like “I called those moments ‘twinges'[,]” created such an innocent and genuine tone to the piece that you won me over. Furthermore, the subject matter itself, the notion that one can be grand without being the centre of attention is something that I not only admired, but also aspire to myself. The phrase “I know enough of my own quiet confidence..” was so eloquent, it furthered my trust and respect in you as an author. Beautiful.

    One thing I must point out as a grow is the research behind your facts. Simply put, “Namaste” is an Indian word that comes from sanskrit. In the future if you make sure you research your facts through completely you’ll have an infallible piece because your ethos cannot be questioned.

    Overall, again I have to congratulate you on such an earnest and thought provoking piece. In my own life I’ve always seeked to develop the quiet humility and confidence that is associated with inner peace. In fact this is a very hot topic of discussion between my brother and myself, and your words inspire me to chase after this trait with more dedication. The comparison of humility to meditation was unique and very effective, offering a new perspective on how to develop peace within oneself. My mother has always taught me to remain humble and hungry, but more humble than hungry. My greatest fear is that one day I will get too big for my britches and forget that I am the product of great teachers, family and friends. It’s in these times that words like yours remind me of the end goal. Therefore, thank you for writing this, and more importantly…

    Namaste.

    Sincerely,
    Siddharth

  2. Siddharth,

    Thank you for your kind words! I’m so happy that my intention as a writer actually came through to the reader. In the process of writing this piece I struggled to define what I was trying to say, and it brought me back to one of my favourite novellas called “Anthem” by Ayn Rand. I think you’d really like it, and I’m sure you could finish it off in about an hour. In “Anthem”, ego is defined simply by the word “I”. It is truly a short but powerful piece.

    Thank you for the clarification on the word Namaste. I won’t ever forget it’s origin now! And thank you once again for your comment, thank you for reading.

    Namaste,
    Ali

  3. A word you will love:

    Ineffable
    1) unable to be, or to great to be, expressed or described in words
    2) not to be spoken about due to its sacredness; unutterable

  4. Ali,
    I would just like to say, firstly, you’re blog touched me greatly. I agree with what Siddharth said about how the innocence in the phrase “I called those moments ‘twinges'” really tweaked my heart a little bit, because i understand what moments you were talking about. You’re words truly captured the essence of what those moments are, something that i have not been able to do. You put words to a feeling and that is not something that is easy to do; you described the undescribable.

  5. Hope,

    Thank you as well for the comment, and I’m happy that my twinges made for a twinge for you 🙂 Knowing that you get those moments too is so cool! That makes us kindred spirits.

    And thank you Ms. Hunni for the word! I think ineffable is exactly what Hope was talking about, describing the undescribable. Ineffable is surely now a word of my vocabulary that I won’t ever forget!

  6. Hello, I’m Juliana Tupper and I attend the International School of Panama. I’m currently a sophomore and I take Mr. Avelar’s English 10 Honours class. The structure used is very singular and exceptionally breathtaking. Your writing is very unflustered and provides an essence of tranquility yet it is intensely fascinating.

  7. Hello, I’m Andrea Donayre from the International School of Panama and I’m in Mr. Avelar’s English 10 Honours class! Alissag, your essay was so beautifully written you are able to express the appreciation for simple moments, which you have called “Twinkles” and to be honest that’s exactly what I think they should be called. I really liked how you explain how not being humble is the worst thing you can be. Bragging too much about qualities you have is bragging about qualities you don’t have! You have grand definitions for simple words that can make a great difference in ones life! I would like to know if this essay was inspired by a “Twinkle” moment that you had?

  8. Hello, I’m Stephanie Boyd from the International School of Panama and I’m in Mr. Avelar’s English 10 Honours class! While reading this, all i could think about was my own worries. About the future. Where would i be. Would i be happy? But in the end, as you said, its not worth to worry about those things now, because there is nothing you can do about it; and worrying will just make things worst for you. So what need to be done, is live in the moment. I really enjoyed reading your blog, because with the personal level it was written in it was just refreshing. To know someone felt and understood the worries i have. Not only did it use great diction, but your style was more than perfect. Thank you for having the personality to post such an amazing response, because even if few people read it, you influence them in great ways. But i was wondering, what do you twinkle in? What things do you feel are your strong suite in life?

  9. Hi, I’m Hailey, from the International School of Panama and I’m in Mr. Avelar’s English 10 Honours class! I loved your piece, I found it extremely relate able. I am really shy and introverted so I understand how you feel. I adored how you included that first quote, “We can’t all be stars… but we can all twinkle.”, I like it because it isn’t your own words but it is a quote related to you personally. You did a really great job on your flow of ideas, of twinkles, humility and being the centre of attention. I also enjoyed how you included the Greek words and definitions. it was interesting and helped exemplify your point. Your essay is amazing, congrats!

  10. Hello Juliana, Andrea, Stephanie, and Hailey! My name is Alissa, or Ali for short, and I’m a grade twelve student in Ms. Hunnisett’s Advanced English class in Calgary, Canada. Thank you all for your responses, your words mean so much to me.

    Juliana, it makes me so happy that you consider this piece to have an essence of tranquility. To me, this piece bears a bit of my soul, so hearing your insights increases my confidence in my writing.

    Andrea, I’m glad that you like my definition of “twinkles”! Perhaps it should be put in the dictionary haha 🙂 And to answer your question, I believe this piece was inspired by so many twinkles, too many to count. Every day I try to find one little thing that makes me smile. There’s a blog I really like called 1000 Awesome Things, and I think you’d like it too! It’s literally a list of beautiful everyday things like roasting the perfect marshmallow or high-fiving babies, for example. I’m curious to know… what kind of twinkle moments can you find in your day?

    Stephanie, it sounds like you share the same worries I do. I’m currently in my last year of high school, and the simple thought of graduating soon gives me a lot of anxiety. Like you said, it is typically easier to not think about it too much, yet if I could offer one piece of advice it is this: the future isn’t as scary as we think it is. I know it seems big and scary now but even I have to keep on reminding myself that it will be exciting and so bright that it will hurt my eyes.

    And lastly, Hailey, I’m glad that the other introverts of the world recognize what I’m saying! And thank you for understanding, your kind words made for a twinkle in my day. 🙂

    I’d love to see all of your writing sometime! Does your English 10 honours class have a blog? Perhaps we could strike up some class pen pals!!

    Your Canadian friend,
    Ali

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