All by myself
1:49 PM |

In sixth grade, every student had to write a three-minute speech for the school board public speaking contest. As the kid whose hand was always in the air, I embraced this. I had already thought of a topic the first week of school, and began reading up on UFO's in eager anticipation.

I remember sitting on the couch in our TV room (the year before we converted it to my bedroom), writing out the stellar introduction:
"It's a bird! It's a plane! It's-- it's a U-F-O! Get the camera!"I had all my research noted on lined sheets of paper with alien drawings and hearts and stars. My Dad read the notes over and helped me put some thoughts together. He also suggested a few points I hadn't thought of on my own. Therein lay the problem.

I won the contest. I won for my class and, two weeks later, I won for my school and was third place at the school board finals. At grade 6 graduation, I got a plaque and my name on a trophy that stills sits in the school's lobby behind a glass case. It was definitely a glory era in my life. But there was something that kept nagging at me: My Dad helped me do it. And to me, this made me a fraud, a sham, a grade six public speaking Wizard of Oz.

In retrospect, the speech glory came from my animated delivery and from most of my own research and wording. I think my Dad probably only helped me as much as everyone else's parents would have, or did. But I couldn't shake the guilty complex that it wasn't all me.

This thought has haunted me, albeit on a less intense scale than the time I almost killed my brother in the pool during winter (We'll go there another day). I resolved that from then on, all my accomplishments would be from me, no help, just me on my own two skinny legs. I have since felt thoroughly proud of my achievements and subsequent glory moments of my academic and professional life. There's really nothing like an "I did it!" moment.

Then, someone came and rained on my parade this weekend. We threw a surprise party for my Dad's 50th, and so the house was full of adults I mostly didn'tknow and confetti was tracked everywhere. I overheard some guy I didn't know (or at least that I didn't remember knowing, which is the worst! So let's call himTed) saying,

"Ah yes, [my name here]. I got her a job at The Hill Times awhile back."Excusez moi? Let's back that up. When my first year of journalism school was done, I was looking for news-related employment. I knew I'd be taking a non-paying job, and that was acceptable. I knew The Hill Times, the political newspaper run from Parliament Hill, was looking for summer interns. I knew this through both looking on their website, and hearing it from my Dad, who heard it from Ted. I sent in my résumé and cover letter, I made the requisite follow upcalls, and I got the job that summer. Me. I did it. That job got me more jobs, paying jobs, and an appreciation for federal politics.

This Ted fellow was telling people, four years later, that he got me a job, and that is not cool. Especially in light of said grade six public speaking glory guilty scarring. So FYI Ted, you may have told my Dad about the job, but I am AnotherTwentysomething, and I earned every job, grade, and writing-related opportunityI've had. Me.