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Jun 16th 2019

The Person I Still Remember from School

1st place winner Anna Russell

Herman Ebbinghaus, a German psychologist, conducted an experiment with the intention to find out how much people remember of what they learn. One day after memorizing information, he remembered one third of it. Two days later, he only remembered 5%. This made me think: why do we go to school when we forget what we learn, anyway? What do I remember from elementary school and high school?

I realized that the foundation of the knowledge I have today is from that period. I don't remember everything. I can't measure percentages in this case, but the details that stayed with me are close to nothing when compared to all lessons I memorized.

I don't remember everything I learned at school. However, I remember that somewhere along those years, I became a person. I became me. 

There are things we forget with the course of life. Forgetting information is not a problem. Forgetting the childish innocence we once carried within – that's a problem. When I try to remember the person that I was back at elementary school, I realize that most memories faded away.

It took me a lot of thinking to realize that the best personal trait of this person was trust. When the teachers told me things, I believed them. I got to know the world with complete innocence and belief that all people were benevolent. Somewhere along the way, the doubts appeared. I don't consider doubt to be a negative thing. It leads me to more research and learning. But the fact that I don't believe anything and anyone anymore is a real problem. I am constantly untrustworthy and cautious, so I miss out on connecting with wonderful people that can inspire me the way my old teachers did. I am afraid that people will lie and deceive, and I feel like I won't find the strength to forgive them.

The person I remember also knew how to forgive. There were endless disagreements between my friends and me. We argued for trifles. We quickly forgot about the reasons for disagreements and we carried on being friends as if nothing ever happened. If we got too far, the teachers stepped in and convinced us to make peace. When I was at elementary school, friendship was more important than pride. With time, I developed the so-called threshold of tolerance. When someone comes close to it, I blocked the contact from my phone and all social media profiles. I am unwilling to see their side of the story. The more I remember the person from my childhood, the more I realize that it would be better for me to relearn how to forgive others. Most of all, I should relearn how to say sorry and forgive myself. I must remember that life is nothing but a game and it's always better when you have friends to play with.

I should never forget that when I was young, the obstacles were a challenge to overcome. I would always find a way to solve a math assignment or draw anything the teacher asked for. I didn't give up. The teachers and my parents taught me that for every problem, there was a solution. If my solution was wrong, I would go back to search for my mistake. If challenges weren't a problem for me then, why are they so dreadful now? Why do get anxious before an internship interview? Why am I afraid to present a project in front of an audience? Everything is in my point of view. If I try over and over again to overcome a challenge, I can even have fun along the process.

The person I remember from school never gave up. She never gave up on trusting people, forgiving friends, and finding solutions to problems. In the game called life, this small person suffered defeats and disappointments. But she didn't give up and she never stopped seeing the world as a beautiful place full of more things to learn and more friends to make. I don't want to lose touch with that person. Maybe I can't reconnect with all the knowledge I gained in those school desks, since I forgot most of it. However, that child is still alive deep inside and I have to find a way to keep her awake.

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