The Picture of Dorian Gray. It is only right to end my AP30 experience with how my AP10 experience started. When I say started, I mean the point of no return.
The point of no return: the choice to stay in this program for better or for worse. That is what Dorian Gray did for me, it made me want to stay and forfeit the easy way for something greater — something beyond me and worthy of all I could give. It marked a change in me that I will always be thankful for.
Let me give you some context. Picture grade 10 Nimrat — bright-eyed and hopeful, about to finish my first official high school semester. Everything was going well — great, in fact. Then, I remember my AP commitment and, more specifically, the required reading. I hadn’t started any. Panic. It started to set in. I decided December break was the time to start. (There definitely wasn’t enough time for me to do it even if I was feeling ambitious. Doing it halfheartedly was a recipe for disaster.)
Macbeth. That was the first obstacle. The first Shakespeare piece I had read in three years. The language was hard; it was so different from anything we studied in class and anything I read independently. Motivation. It was fleeting. My data sheets were filled with my rushed writing that lacked meaning and depth. It was just a desperate attempt to be among people who would actually try. I just wanted to be with people who were willing to work and support me. That reason wasn’t enough, it was superficial and easily overtaken by the thoughts of a class where I could do less and get the results I desired. Yet, because of my own pride, I continued working. To my own surprise, I finished. 1/5 done. Time for the next one.
The Glass Castle. I didn’t even finish this novel before the class started (finished it in March — three months after I had started it). It was a good book, but it didn’t keep me interested. It felt like a chore to read — especially at the beginning — and the thoughts started to turn to escape. Why was I even trying to join the class? Why don’t I just leave like the others and join the -1 class next door? I was putting more work into a class I wasn’t even in yet than all of my other classes. (A bit hyperbolic but hey it’s my final free choice blog, let me have this.) I put The Glass Castle on pause when one of the books I put a hold on became available.
The Picture of Dorian Gray. I never had a favourite book before this one. When I say favourite, don’t take it lightly. I am an indecisive person at heart and, for most things, I can’t decide a favourite. This book was different. I distinctly remember the first time I read it. I was sitting in my basement and knew that if I didn’t start at that moment, I never would. Immediately, I was immersed in the world that Oscar Wilde created. His vivid descriptions, each delicately crafted sentence, and the ability to create characters who continue to pervade my thoughts. I have yet to truly understand how this novel managed to affect me the way it did; that being said, I am so grateful it did. Reading about Dorian gave me the drive to look at English as a class that wasn’t just a requirement for my diploma. It was a class defined by growth and that was something I desired most. It made me want to think and explore the worlds that exist in some black and white pages. Dorian inspired me to love other books and love reading again.
When I talk about the love of books and reading, I need to emphasize how important this has been for me — especially as I started to consider the person I wanted to be after high school. If you knew me at any point before grade 10, you would expect me to devote my life to a STEM field. Even I thought the same way. What this class (along with social studies cause I am going into a social sciences program) showed me was that the love I had for chemistry, biology, and math was not enough for me and I couldn’t see myself building a life off of these subjects. My motivation in pursuing a STEM career was based purely on the fact that I enjoyed learning new things and was good at doing so. (It was also the “respectable” program of study in a university in my family’s eyes. Imagine how much convincing it took to get them to agree to me going into political science and business.) Coming into AP, I saw a world I couldn’t imagine leaving. A world that didn’t need constant innovation to find success; the way different perspectives and a multitude of opinions can exist about one thing. The abstract nature of the humanities was one of the major reasons I never considered it a part of my future. Now, the abstract is where I find solace.
To the AP class of the past, present, and future:
I don’t want to bore you with my ramblings about my future or what I hope to accomplish. Instead, I want to impart upon you my hopes for each and every one of you: I hope you find your Dorian. I hope you find what you want and need in life. I hope you don’t compromise that because you think it is necessary. I hope you find something that inspires you in a way that you never dreamed of and you see yourself in a new light. I, from the deepest part of my heart, hope you live a life full of beauty and happiness.
I can only hope for you when I leave, so consider this my thanks. My ultimate show of gratitude for everything you have done for me as a part of this classroom. You have all had a role in helping me continue to see the beauty of literature and writing. Please do this for others, even if you don’t join AP next year. Please show your beautiful souls to the world and let them see what I saw coming into the classroom every day. Please be the reason someone else can find their Dorian and, hopefully, along the way, you do too.
To the lovely twelves that stuck through this year with me:
Abhay, three years together and you couldn’t have made me prouder. Your desire to grow is truly inspirational and you make me want to be a better person. Being able to see your development as both a creative and critical writer has been amazing and I know you are capable of amazing things. I wish for nothing but your success; although, I know that once you put your mind to something, you can do anything.
Maria, the most incredible comeback kid. My biggest regret is not being convincing enough and getting you to join AP20 with us. You should know by now how much I admire you and how grateful I am for each moment I get to share with you. You amaze me every day with your innumerable talents and abilities — and how humble you are about them. The world should be grateful that it has Maria McGlashan in it; I know that I am. I am so excited to see where your path takes you! (Don’t forget me when you are rich and famous.) Please tell me whenever you come back to Calgary because after seeing you for three hours every day, I don’t know how I am going to survive without you. This year has been amazing and you have played a big role in making it that way!
Mia, my favourite confidant. It has been an absolute pleasure growing and learning alongside you! You were one of the only people I really knew going into the AP10 class and I am so happy to have been able to see your journey all the way to grade 12! I know the choice you had to make between English and Drama was a tough one; however, I know you chose AP knowing what you needed most. I don’t know where the world is taking you, but, hopefully, you get all the love and success you deserve. Don’t compromise for anyone or anything and remain true to you. That is the Mia that we have all fallen in love with.
To the lovely teacher who gave us way more than we deserved:
Hunni, having you as a teacher for the last three years has been an absolute honour. I can’t believe how much I have grown, as both a student and a person, with your influence in my life. You have developed a truly incredible program that has been a defining part of my high school experience. When I say I don’t know where I would be without you, I mean it. Knowing that you are always there at the end of the hall to support us whenever we need it is an absolute gift. You are one of the most beautiful parts of our school and I am so glad I stayed and got to experience that. I don’t know what else to say right now, so I will end it with a simple thank you.
(I sincerely doubt that this will be my last blog post because I have some stuff I want to post before the year is up. Consider this the end of the original series. Expect the reboot at some point! Also, I may have teared up as I wrote this, but I am, by nature, an emotional person. Thank you again for everything. This year has been an absolute pleasure.)