I was a Girl Scout once. A Brownie, to be exact. I have many fragmented memories of that time in my life. Door-to-door cookie sales. Singing “The Wheels on the Bus”. Going on nature walks at camp. Making cousin Heidi’s snickerdoodles and watching my friends eat the dough. Birthday parties with Taylor Swift music. Marching in parades. Sewing patches onto a little brown vest. Getting two prizes for graduating because I was the only one in my troop who wanted the flower-shaped highlighter, and since they ordered the prizes wrong I also got the jewelry box that everyone else received.
However, one memory sticks out prominently. I remember sitting in a room with a conference table and chairs. We were doing a drawing activity: a self-portrait. Instead of having us simply draw ourselves, they had us following directions.
If we liked to bike, we’d draw curly hair; but if we liked to run, we’d draw straight. A toothy grin for reading books, but a simply smile for movies. It was simple choices like this, representing ourselves on the page.
Eight-year-old me was astounded by this. The entire process was inaccurate. My hair was curly, but if I preferred running to biking, I had to draw it as if it were straight? No sir! I wanted my picture to be beautiful, and I wanted it to actually look like me.
Eight-year-old me was stubborn that way.
When we got to the choice for nose, I was presented with a terrible internal dilemma. Our choice was as follows:
If we liked the day better, draw a circle for the nose (representing the sun).
If we liked the night better, draw a crescent for the nose (representing the moon).
What was eight-year-old me to do? At this age, I went to bed on the dot each night. I was afraid of the dark. I had to sleep with a nightlight. Shadows on the walls frightened me. (I unfortunately didn’t understand the correlation between my nightlight and the shadows.)
But noses aren’t circles.
How could I ruin my portrait by stickin’ a big ole’ circle in the middle of my carefully sketched face? I couldn’t stand for this. The circle was ugly. It would ruin my picture.
But I hated the dark.
Could I lie? For the sake of my picture? To keep my portrait face in tact?
(Eight-year-old me was also, apparently, a perfectionist. I have unfortunately not outgrown that trait.)
I remember whispering among my friends about how awful the circle would look. One of the leaders told us it didn’t matter what it looked like. It was supposed to represent us as people.
Well, I’m sorry, but as I person, I can’t stand for having a circle for a nose, even if I am afraid of the dark.
I sketched a crescent moon. I suppose it was all for naught, because I have no idea where that portrait ended up.
But I did not have a circle for a nose.