While predicting future professions, a high school classmate of mine once said I would own a teacup shop in Paris. I smiled before replying that his assessment of me was the daintiest one I could imagine and would ultimately prove incorrect. Despite my size (and admitted affinity for tea and florals), I am not dainty.
I have been a cross country athlete for seven years. Meaning that I run long distances (sometimes in snow, frequently through mud) and climb large hills for fun and for the challenge.
I am ambitious too. My father taught me ambition by advising, “Be your own best advocate.” I follow his advice by asking my questions, applying for the position, and submitting my work. Over time, I have come to accept the failures that can come from putting yourself out there. In Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, I found one of my favorite words—errata. Errata are errors in printing, and Franklin believed they should be embraced because they promote learning. The word errata contains little of the heft of failure or sin but all the promise of growth.
Language and literature have been among my greatest advisors. In Wild, Cheryl Strayed attests that even the greatest pain—the worst pain I can imagine myself experiencing—may be survived. In The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Charlie explains why individuality must be celebrated. Such lessons have indebted and endeared me to the written word.
Language, as many literary icons have stressed, is sustenance, knowledge, delight, and unity. We cannot live without it. Therefore, using it well is an endeavor anything but dainty. Being part of a team such as Sundress that uses language to diminish the boxes and binaries of the world is an enormous blessing, an early dream realized.
Marah Hoffman is a senior double major in English and creative writing at Lebanon Valley College in rural Pennsylvania. Within her campus’s lively literary community, she is a writing tutor, mentor for prospective and new students, co-poetry editor for their literary magazine, and president of her college’s International English Honors Society chapter. Marah enjoys reading classic and contemporary literature. She has written poetry since she was twelve but has lately found herself wandering the realm of creative nonfiction, particularly personal essays. Besides being a bookworm, Marah is an avid runner. She is a member of LVC’s cross country and track teams. When Marah graduates, she hopes to find a position that allows her to continue pursuing her passion for books.