"The Ugly Duckling" is not about Beauty.

     Para a versão em Português, clique aqui. 
      
     Blame it on the filters, the make up and the gym membership, but most of us seem to carry within this feeling of having been one very very ugly duckling, now grown into the most beautiful swan in the pond. Honestly, any self esteem is good for the heart, and I won’t be one to question people’s search for an evergrowing love for themselves.
    
     However, growing up and understanding how much harm can be caused by the social perception of beauty has made me reject its importance in my life. You can blame it on Funny Girl, maybe, but the last thing that I want to be important about me is how pretty I am or am not. I enjoy having and expressing one very loud personality, louder than anything else – not necessarily screaming, but mostly. 
    
     I was thinking about this as I watched the dozens of swans living on the river right opposite to my student hall.
         
     One very interesting thing that studying Art allows me to is overthink about things, to the point of being capable of extracting from them hidden meanings and purposes theretofore nonexistent to me, but real enough for my subconscious to learn from them. So, Hans Christian Andersen was most probably only talking about his past as an ugly child, and rejoicing on the beauty and glory that the years had brought, but I’d rather understand The Ugly Duckling as a story about identity.
     
     If you have never seen swans, know that they are huge birds, constantly cleaning their white feathers, and usually spill water on those who don’t feed them (but I’d guess that’s an specific feature of the ones who live next to me). Their babies are greyish and could be the clumsiets and fuzziest creatures swimming on fresh waters. You can tell that swans and ducks don’t belong with each other, even though they can be seen hanging together.
     
     After being rejected by his mother, sublings, and basically every other creature he ever met in his life, the duckling strongly believed he wasn’t much more than one very unlucky bird. Even though he had already seen the swans, and was aware of their existence, he couldn’t see himself as one of them, because he couldn’t think of himself as anything other than what he had heard his whole life. His identity was distorted, as a fogged mirror in which he could only see disappointment.
     
     Life can be really ungrateful to those who take a longer time to finally fit in, because there is a rush; the world won’t stop spinning around for you to go somewhere else and try to figure out yourself. Then, we can all relate to the unfortunate events in the life of the duckling. Some may say that the tale enhances the idea of superiority between different types of people. I’d rather highlight that the duckling’s biggest joy wasn’t discovering himself as one of the beautiful birds – or even the most beautiful of them all – , but having found a place to belong, to feel welcome and important, instead of freezing to death alone in the winter.
     
     One of the greatest joys in life, for me, is that, after so much pain and trials, I know who I am and I have found a place, several places, in which my presence is desired, in which I can grow into a better person, and help others as well. I could say that, now, I am a swan surrounded by so many others swans, but we could be ducks, seagulls, bears, bees, ravens. And I may not always feel happy, but I am happy to have a purpose, a focus, a direction. The ugly duckling flew his way into the sky, and I’ve just spread my wings and followed his path. I hope that you will join us someday.
     
     

Frowning

– Are you sure you want to do this?
– Oh, Harriet, stop this drama. It’s just a birthday letter. Letting me read it won’t kill us at all.
– Ok, fine, I’ll let you read it, but do it out loud. And don’t forget what I’ve told you before.
– What have you told me?
– *sigh*Honestly, Elise?
– It doesn’t matter. I’ll just start it, before you take your words back.
– Quick, please.
– “Dear Harriet,”
– Oh, here we go.
 – “It’s undeniably interesting how time runs slower or faster according to one’s point of view.
“You know, dear, reality is just a matter of perception – time and space perception, to be more specific. A person can, eventually, unwittingly pass through its entire life believing that living miserably and mediocrely is the undiscovered key to happiness (instead of trust and self-assurance, as The Eagles would say), and without noticing how subjected to circumstances out of its own power it is. And, of course, I don’t mean subjection to others’ power alone. I mean subjection to the undeniable and untouchable power of The Universe, supported (in its whole mean) by whatever stands behind it – I’d say ‘God’, which is true for me, but I must definitely respect your always valuable opinion; or opinions, we haven’t seen each other for a while and I’m not quite sure of what’s been in your mind. Or out of it.”
– And you wonder why I frown.
– Silence! “There’s a moment – a take-it-or-leave-it one, anyone would suppose – in which serious decisions should be taken, with no excuses allowed; it doesn’t matter how seriously committed with the truth one might be. It doesn’t matter how much love, passion, anger, or any other feeling, fulfills this one’s heart. Nothing can actually set us apart as ‘crucial moments free’, but there’s definitely something to set you apart from this misguided crowd of misguided mediocre existences; unfortunately, I haven’t really discerned what this ‘something’ is or means, once I had been looking for a general however specific and unique definition. Nonetheless, I have reached the conclusion that each useless person in this world can be a stood out – although that would be undeniably bewildering, once a crowd wholly stood out remains a crowd –, and standing out is something that can be done through one’s own individuality and special abilities, besides the help of one or one hundred more powerful people, and by powerful I mean ‘moneyful’. You may say how obvious this all sounds, but if so, there would be much more proper genius walking on this Earth and, provided I’m much of a proper genius, I am sure there aren’t many properly established around.” What?
– Keep going on, there is a moment in which everything makes sense.
– “You could wonder the reason why all those specially nearly delusional sentences were typed in the same letter, forced within the same context, running out of any sticky logic putting it together, such as sense, order, cohesion, etc. Well, dearest of them all, I have no other intention than to make you aware of how important, special and full of potentials you are. Nevertheless, don’t feel offended by me saying ‘full of potentials’. I have been watching your growth and encouraging your always mind-blowing intelligence for so long that I have lost account of time myself. And, once you’re turning 18, I believe it is the perfect time for your naturally outstanding person to turn those already bright potentials into consumed acts. Much more to-be-acts than I can actually count using nothing but my fingers and toes. If you’d prefer, I could consider my hair and arms as countable tools, but that wouldn’t be necessary whatsoever. There’s no need to count the stars, once you’re sure they’re so many they light up the sky from the brightest day to the darkest night.” This is so sweet, Harry.
– Keep reading it, Elise.
– “Year after year I send you, alongside a sweet vintage gift, one of these always long and senseless letters, even though filled with the best of kindness I can extract from myself, so I suppose the lack of sense and warmth must be getting into your mind as the most normal, sweet and full of logic stuff. If not so, please don’t let me know. There are few things which I would rather not be aware of. In general, they are considerably important things in my life and routine, so consider yourself as part of this select group hidden inside the closest to ‘heart’ I have ever had. Oh, and, of course, let me say ‘happy birthday to you’, Harriet. Being expelled from your grandmother’s uterus has never been quite of some happiness to me, but as I’ve already told you, you’re significantly significant for me to receive my cheering words for being around for 18 years after you own expel, but from my sister’s uterus, of course.”
“Keep up with the good work. You’re one of those rare life winners, which managed to be successful and happy altogether. Never lose that, or you’ll never recover your humanity – always see me as the best not-to-follow example of them all. And don’t forget that, although you have one of the most beautiful smiles I’ve ever seen, the most powerful one is hidden near your eyebrows.”
“Truly yours,”
“Your (may I dare say ‘beloved’?) Uncle S.
– *sigh* So, what do you think?
– I remembered what you said.
– Oh, really? That fast? *laugh* So, what was it?
– You said these letters were the reason why you’d always frown.
[Pause].
– Why do you frown, Harriet?
– Well, I would say I’m just smiling, but upside down.
[Composition for english class – C1 level]