By Ria Patel
Artwork by Hallie Anderson
“Do not worry, she will turn all her work in on time,” my teacher told her friend. “After all, she is a St. Mary’s girl.”
Ever since I found myself at St. Mary’s two years ago, I have heard and seen that phrase everywhere I go. She is a St. Mary’s girl. The phrase was on the flyer that I received when I toured the school, on the “new girl” gear that I got the summer before ninth grade and then again on the sign that I was given to put up in my front yard on my first day. “I am a St. Mary’s Girl!” it says, proudly presenting my choice of education, and somehow, my “identity,” to everyone who passes by.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly proud and grateful that I get the opportunity to have the excellent and fulfilling education that St. Mary’s provides me. However, I am confused by the fact that I am a “St. Mary’s girl” in some situations and not others. By the fact that I fit into the cookie-cutter, perfect-at-everything archetype that the St. Mary’s community strives for all its students to be. By the fact that the sign in my front yard has so much power over who I am and who I am meant to be.
I’m frustrated by the fact that when I am part of the regional winning mock trial team, my team’s picture is adorned with the phrase “She is a St. Mary’s girl,” but when I, for example, do not do well on a test, I do not receive the same honor.
It is more than just awards and accolades that make us St. Mary’s girls. For example, when someone takes two cookies from the buffet table while everyone else is taking one, she exemplifies the traits of a St. Mary’s girl.
And when someone decides to wear the same sweatshirt for two weeks in a row without washing it, I will go ahead and say that she is #SoStMarys.
I think that sometimes we get so caught up in celebrating situations in which we excel, identifying them as #SoStMarys, that we forget the other defining characteristics of our community. Our love for food and comfortable sweats is just as St. Mary’s as our excellence is.
I am no less of a St. Mary’s girl when I consume two cookies at the buffet rather than winning the mock trial competition. Rather, I am just exemplifying one St. Mary’s trait instead of another.
I should not just be a St. Mary’s girl when I succeed; I am a St. Mary’s girl all the time. I am a St. Mary’s girl when I win. I am a St. Mary’s girl when I lose. I am a St. Mary’s girl when I ace the test, and I am a St. Mary’s girl when I procrastinate English homework until minutes before.
Day after day, chapel speaker after chapel speaker, tells us that we should take risks and that failing is okay. However, after the speaker sits down and the StuCo president begins the announcements, the only St. Mary’s girls we hear about are the ones that came in first place, not the ones that tried their hardest but only earned fourth place.
If I really was to establish an overgeneralized definition for all of the girls at St. Mary’s, which, for the record, is probably impossible, I would have to settle on the following:
A true St. Mary’s girl tries her hardest to reflect the morals of her school. She attempts to incorporate the value of balance in her life, but more often than not ends up studying until 1AM anyway. A St. Mary’s girl decides that she will take initiative tomorrow to wake up early and finish her homework before school, but the essay probably is not finished until the 11AM ALAPP bell the next day. A St. Mary’s girl may not be able to fulfill the school’s values of balance and determination, but she tries regardless.
I am a St. Mary’s girl, not because I get good grades or win everything I participate in, but because I am the product of the values of my wonderful SMS community. Because I spread light and life wherever I go.
Oh, and of course, because I always take two cookies from the buffet.
For & By Students
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