“I am pretty unextraordinary.” – Hazel Grace Lancaster (The Fault in Our Stars by John Green) This little line from one of my favorite books helped me start my journey of self-discovery. Before, I really did consider myself as someone very unextraordinary. To the world, I’m just an average girl that nobody will ever notice. Maybe I never will be noticed in an extraordinary way, but I’m determined to make my mark. But first things first, I had to discover myself and define who I really am. My first moment of self-discovery began, actually, when I first developed my love for books. And that moment happened way, way back when I was still a young child. Nothing made me happier than going to National, Power Books or Fully Booked to go see what new storybook, magazine or novel was available. To this day going book shopping, an activity most people my age would find as agonizingly boring, is an opportunity to expand my knowledge and vocabulary. The only thing I need to improve on right now is, admittedly, my book choices. My Dad constantly reminds me to move onto more young adult publications and cut back on the children’s novels. Books are my first great love. Through them, I can go on fantastic adventures that become almost real in my imagination.
I also relate to the characters in terms of their personalities and the things they do in the story. From the protagonist, antagonist and all the other characters in between, I can find someone or even something I can relate to in a book. My current favorite books are The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, where I have learned a great many deal of new words such as hamartia, toroidal, prototypical, narcissistic, bacchanalia and so many other terms that were once too sophisticated for me to understand until I looked them up in the dictionary. The Fault in Our Stars is a heartwarming and yet also heartbreaking love story of two young cancer-stricken teenagers who find their own little infinity together within their limited number of days. I’d tell you more but I wouldn’t want to spoil the entire novel. Second in my favorites list would have to be The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Here, I saw World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust through a young girl like myself, who was unable to read and write until she was given to a foster family in Germany.
Liesel Meminger then later befriends Max Vandenburg, a Jewish man who hides in her family’s basement to escape the Nazis. Again, I will not spoil this great work and you will have to read it yourself. This book really strikes me as something that can really make us all question our humanity. As almost all of us know, the Holocaust in World War II was the most horrifying genocide in the entire world. Millions of men, women and children all executed just because of their religion. If you ask me, Adolf Hitler must have been both insane and blind. Did he not know that in World War I, approximately 96,000 Jewish soldiers fought for Germany? It pains me to think that Hitler did not remember that. The Book Thief is most definitely one of those war novels that will have you questioning mankind’s humanity. As for a favorite book series, I would have to say that the How to Train Your Dragon series by British author Cressida Cowell. I admit, it’s a children’s books series but I really enjoy reading the books. The series is funny, compelling and the books have helped me fine tune my imagination.
In fact, this beloved series has been turned into two films and a TV show. But I’ll tell you all about it later. Indeed, through reading books of all kinds I have discovered things about myself I didn’t even know were there. I discovered that I have a talent for writing and storytelling. And I have grown to love these two hobbies, which I hope that I can turn into a job by becoming a writer or a journalist when I grow up. Aside from reading, I have also experienced being in academic contests in my school where I have begun to define myself as an intellectual. One of those contests is the Essay Writing Contest the school has every year. I never really win any prizes for my compositions but it’s always so much fun to compete. Through essay writing contests, my writing ability is steadily honed and constantly improved with every essay I write. So part of my journey of self-discovery has been accomplished through the means of books and writing. The other part is, honestly, what I’ve been recently obsessing about. “Everything we know about you guys…is wrong!” – Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III (How to Train Your Dragon Movie)
That line from an animated movie by DreamWorks Animation has always been embedded in my memory. The first part of this essay focused on my love for books and how reading and writing have helped me discover who I am in terms of what I can do in this world. This part will now focus on who I truly am as a person. How to Train Your Dragon is a 2010 animated film directed by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders under DreamWorks Animation. Its story revolves around a young Viking teenager named Hiccup (Yeah, I know. The name is pretty unusual.) who lives in the fictional dragon fighting island of Berk. In Berk, fighting dragons is as necessary as breathing air to live. However, Hiccup is the runt of the village and is physically unable to fight dragons and cannot live up to his father’s expectations. Incidentally, his father, Stoick the Vast, is the tribe chief. But when Hiccup creates an invention that shoots down an ultra rare dragon species known as the Night Fury and attempts to slay it, the young Viking then finds himself unable to do so.
This then leads to him freeing it and establishing a forbidden friendship with the dragon, whom he names Toothless. In Hiccup’s world, befriending a dragon is the highest act of treason. And yet in the end, Hiccup and Toothless’ amazingly strong bond enables them to change the relationship between the dragons and Vikings of Berk. Yes, it is an animated movie. But it is not strictly for kids only. I had a real moment of self-discovery and self-definition when I watched this at my best friend’s recommendation. And I was immediately awestruck by the movie on so many levels. The detail on the animation was superb, the lighting was perfect, the music score was just phenomenally beautiful. But what really touched my heart was the story.
I really relate to Hiccup. He is left-handed, physically not in the best of shape, intelligent and extremely different from the rest of his peers. I, myself, am also left-handed, physically weak, mentally strong and…different. I often look at my friends and other people and I can’t help but sometimes feel that I’m just too different. I don’t like all the things everyone else likes and sometimes I don’t even understand current trends and stick to the things I know. Like Hiccup, I am different. And also like Hiccup, I have embraced my difference. Thanks to this film (and its TV series and sequel) I have figured out who I am as a person. Everyone discovers a new trend and they all go along with it. Sometimes I do that but I’m more comfortable staying in my comfort zone. And when someone tries to change me, I steadfastly refuse to do so. I am an individual.
And I am proud of it.
I’m different from everyone else and that’s okay. Truth be told, we’re all different. We’re just scared to show the world our individualities. That’s why I try hard to stay true to myself and make sure nobody and nothing turns me into something I am not. But I also remind myself to keep an open mind and broaden my horizons. When I experience new things, it helps me discover more interesting characteristics that help define myself as a person. And that’s exactly what Hiccup does. He accepts his individuality and tries to do things nobody has ever tried before. Throughout the film, TV series and sequel, Hiccup stayed true to himself and didn’t allow anyone to change him. If you must know, I have recently watched How to Train Your Dragon 2 and had another great moment of realization. In the second film, Hiccup is now a young adult and is currently trying to find himself. This is exactly what I’m doing right now, even as I write this. I apologize if this essay may seem haphazardly constructed.
I must admit, my writing style does tend to confuse some people. But that’s essentially how I have defined myself as a person, through books, writing and dragons. And to tell you the truth, self-discovery and defining yourself as a person never stops. As the years go by, you will have more experiences, more moments that help you realize that there’s more to you than meets the eye. For me, I’m still pretty young so I still have a long way to go until I can complete my personal definition. In case some of you may not fully know me yet, allow me to tell you once again who I am. I am an individual with a love for writing, making stories, reading books, obsessed with dragons. And basically, I am different. And I am proud to be different.
Courtney from Study Moose
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