Imperfection, A Positive Trait
During the summer of 2011, I went with my twin sister to Leeds, Alabama to participate in a program entitled Habitat for Humanity. This program is associated with building houses for the homeless, but I was enraptured at the fact that we were also going to be able to spend some time with underprivileged children at a day camp. By simply hanging out with these children, I learned that my time and attention with them is all they really sought. They made me feel comfortable, and they inspired me to want to do more volunteer work in the future. I learned how imperative it is for children to be able to feel like they have someone there to listen to them.
My service in Alabama is fixated with the short stories, “ The Birthmark”, “The Yellow Wallpaper”, and the poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, “The Birthmark” portrays the main character Aylmer as a man who strives for perfection in all of his obsessions such as his scientific experiments and most importantly, his lovely wife Georgiana. Once Aylmer spots an imperfection on his wife’s face, he judges her in a rather rash manner and yearns for this birthmark to be removed. The desire for his wife’s face to be flawless, led Aylmer to ironically cause her demise proving that this desire was very potent in a negative context. While participating in my service, I noticed that everyone that I worked with as well as I, had flaws and made mistakes at times, but these imperfections were normal and what made us human. Despite individual mistakes, we all worked together and made the service experience very memorable. If we put strong emphasis on making everything flawless, then we have lost sight of the true reason for wanting to serve others in need, what truly matters. Our imperfections make us unique individuals, and they are imbedded in our character much to the chagrin of people who yearn for perfection.
The short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, connects a woman with depression to the solitary confinement that is inflicted upon her by her husband. This woman feels rather uncomfortable in the new estate she is staying in over the summer because she has been placed in a dreary setting, and she is prevented from engaging in her true passion for writing. It is no wonder that all she can focus on is her obsession with the yellow wallpaper in her bedroom. In the end, the isolation has led to the demise of this main character by pushing her deeper into a depressing, senseless mindset. The day camp that I went to in Alabama strongly discourages isolation and confinement, which I have seen to effectively help each child as a whole person. I noticed that my physical participation played a role in making the kids feel happier and freer to express their different personalities. These children may not have great resources and opportunities available for them, but it is imperative that they should not be hindered from striving to participate in any activities they find enjoyable. I was glad to see that these kids were not strictly confined to the camp. On various days throughout the week, they went to different places in Leeds, which made them feel more comfortable and at ease. If they were strictly confined and prevented from engaging in activities that they enjoy, the effect on each of them would be detrimental to them physically and emotionally.
The poem, “I Wander Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth, proves that even the little moments in life can be the most profound. The speaker, feeling lonely, was walking through valleys and hills. When he passes a lake that daffodils are beside, his countenance immediately changes. His loneliness is replaced with joy as he watches the numerous daffodils dance. At that moment, he didn’t realize, “What wealth the show to me had brought” (line 18) until later because now he can use this memory to alter his pensive mood to one with pleasure. During my experience with service, I observed how even doing simple things such as playing outside with the children can be very impacting for them. Giving them freedom to express themselves to let their imaginations run wild is important for their future growth and maturity. If they ever find themselves in situations of solitude, they can use their imagination to make the loneliness become a brighter experience. Their minds are powerful because they can make difficult times seem happier even if it is only for a brief moment. The little moments of my service were the most profound for me because I was able to make under privileged children feel better about themselves and show them they are worth more than what they think.
My volunteer service in Leeds, Alabama was very unforgettable. I was truly blessed and grateful to spend time with underprivileged children who only desired time and attention from others. The two short stories and poem that I have read can easily be intertwined with my service. I learned that it is better to not strive to be perfect, how encouraging physical activity can lead to positive outcomes, and not taking the little moments for granted because they can be the most important.