2014 Convention Stories

    Embrace It

    Sara LaborSara Labor
    Sigma Beta Chapter
    Chadron State College, Chadron, NE

    I walk out of the tattoo parlor into the blinding sun and a warm breeze. Savannah air fills my nose: the smell of river, trees, and life. As we walk, there is a little skip in my step. I can’t tell if it’s a leftover euphoria from the adrenaline of the tattoo or if it’s just the gorgeous weather. Probably both.

    “Oh my God, the world is beautiful!” I say, skipping a few steps ahead of Hannah. I look back at her; she is smiling.

    We walk along the brick sidewalk and enjoy the city sounds. At every direction there is something to see: beautiful historic buildings, moss-covered trees, and street musicians. Hannah points out a brass fountain nearby. We rush excitedly across the street to get a closer view.

    When I finally get to peel the bandaging from my wrist, the two black words “Embrace it” greet me. One summer night, while explaining minute plot points of a Doctor Who episode, I stopped mid-sentence to say “Am I boring you with all my nerd talk?” My friend Katie shook her head and said, “I think it’s interesting. It’s cool that you talk about nerd things. Embrace it.”

    Inspired by her words, I grabbed a sharpie to write “Embrace it” on my wrist. Even before it was permanently scrawled into my body, I would glance at my wrist when I felt unsure about myself.

    Sara Labor with Daniel Mendelsohn at his book signingBut as I peel off the bandage, it has become so much more than that. For now I am thinking of the speaker we just saw, Daniel Mendelsohn, who said “I made my mistake and I stuck to it.” He was talking about the major he’d chosen in college: Classic Greek Literature. “I bet since you’re all here,” he said, “you stuck to your mistake too.”

    From day one of the convention, I’ve been unsure of myself. At open mic night, I heard someone bragging about getting her novel published, while others spoke about graduate school or teaching. Meanwhile, little ‘ol me is about to graduate college with no plan and certainly no novel.

    But as I look at the new ink in my skin and think of Mendelsohn, I have to smile. I don’t have to be unsure of myself. I am doing what I love: writing, reading, and discussing these things in a beautiful city.

    I made my mistake.

    I decide to embrace it.