I Do It Myself

Amy - Hanover Park, Illinois
Entered on March 20, 2009
Age Group: Under 18

Although it may not be grammatically correct, my philosophy on life has always been “I do it myself.” I have two guesses as to how this statement came to be. It exist either because I spoke these clever words at the ripe age of 3, or because this story is a translation as told by my grandma in her broken English. I would often take a long Saturday morning drive with my Dad to my Grandma’s house and sit on his lap while she cooked. Grandma’s kitchen was where all the magic happened. My dad would help me down and I’d take my lunch into the other room while they talked in a language I couldn’t understand.

One day, I came back into the kitchen and wanted to sit by myself on the old wooden chair, that I’m sure is the same chair that has been sitting in the same spot next to the same fridge since she immigrated here 30 years ago. I tried and tried to get onto that chair but I was too small. I tried many combinations of jumping and climbing both forward and backward, and before I knew it my legs were dangling in the air. “Put me down Grandma!” I yelled. She was just trying to help. After watching me struggle for several minutes she set me on the chair. I only lasted about a second on the chair before I jumped down to the floor. Before I tried to get up again, I turned to her and uttered my 3-year-old philosophy “I do it myself, Grandma.” She saw me struggling and tried to help, and I’m glad she did but I’m also glad she understood how important it was to step back so I could do it on my own. She continued to help me in that same way as I grew up, letting me learn through trial and error. She taught me that it’s okay to accept help when it is really necessary, but that I also have the power to do things without the help of others. Growing up, my philosophy may not have been vital in my life, but as I take my steps toward college and being on my own, having the ability to do things myself will prove useful.

The last time I visited my grandma at her house, she told me of how she tried to help me onto the chair in her kitchen so many years ago. She explained how hard it was for her to watch me struggle and she just wanted to help. She also told me a part of the story I hadn’t heard before. Apparently, after she put me on the chair and I jumped off, I struggled again for a long time trying to get back onto the chair by myself. Although both her and my dad thought I was much too small, they let me be until somehow I finally made it up there. Shortly after leaving my grandma’s house that day, she passed away. Even though she is gone, I will always remember her story and know that I have the power to do anything if I set my mind to it.