I was rereading the short story "The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant today in preparation for teaching it next week to my freshmen, and it got me thinking about social stature and self worth.

I haven't reread this story since high school, I don't think. When I read it all those years ago (how many, I won't say), I was a silly little empty-headed girl. I confess this. Weighty matters like social stature and self worth didn't take up much space inside my head back then. What I did know was the feeling of having to go without -- the frustration of knowing my parents couldn't buy me an outfit for the latest party, just because they'd spent every last penny paying for my education.

You see, my parents enrolled me in expensive private schools for all of my formative years, K-12. I don't think I appreciated this back then. Not really. All I could seem to focus on was the knife-sharp desire for pretty, shiny things -- material things -- things my far wealthier friends and classmates possessed. Things that were impossibly beyond my reach. Their worth far beyond my parents' humble income. They struggled just to pay my tuition. I struggled just to fit in, hoping my classmates wouldn't notice how worn my shoes were, hiding my feet out of sight so that the scuff marks wouldn't show.

Like I said, I was a silly little empty-headed girl. I make no excuses for my former self. And I'd be lying if I said I still don't long for pretty, shiny things today. But at least I don't attribute my self worth to them anymore. I've learned to appreciate things that do not possess price tags, that are far beyond the concept of worth. Though this lesson was not without its own cost -- the cost of experience.

Click here if you want to read the short story "The Necklace." I promise you it's a quick read, and I also promise that it will make you think (as only the best stories can).


2 comment(s):

~kiMbeRLy~ said...

I love this post. I was the opposite. I spent my school days blissfully unaware that my parents were working so hard just to get us by. They always took excellent care of us and I never knew how expensive we were. Then when I was on my own I began to realize that my life was no longer a "need/want it - go buy it" situation. It was a " life is expensive and takes my entire paycheck" situation. I became so frustrated and upset because it seemed as though everyone else was living the good life. I got myself back down to.reality soon enough...

ChinkyGirLMeL said...

Awww.... I went to a private school too. I remember being in an elevator and a girl was telling her friend that she ran away from home just because he dad didn't buy her the cellphone that she wanted. There were some things that I wanted but was far beyond my reach as well, but now that I have graduated I do realize that education is the best gift parents can give to their children. In some countries education is not a right, but a privilege.