Reflecting back on this year, I realized that I have learned a lot about myself and how I present myself to those around me. I had a great amount of freedom and independence in my english class this year and with this, I was able to find a greater sense of myself through my creativity and imagination. For the past couple of years, my english classes have been very repetitive—it’s the same routine every week. I did not expect anything different going into my junior year, but I was very wrong. I learned a great deal of lessons and/or discovered new ideas that have opened my mind through reading the essays that my teacher, Mr. Ziebarth, provided us with in class. One of the most memorable essays that I remember reading was from the beginning of the year. This essay talked about how we are language; humans communicate with each other through words, and these words allow us to express our feelings and emotions with one another.
Russell James © 2015
“Actions speak louder than words”
I definitely agree with this statement but only to a certain extent. Because language is primarily how people interact with one another, the words we use are extremely significant. We use words to explain how we feel because language has meaning. The way we phrase or place words together have a huge impact on how our feelings get across to others. On the other hand, our actions can either reveal what our true intentions are or how we, as humans, make mistakes from time to time. It is very common to feel one way but act another, and I think this is one of the most unique things about being human beings. The emotions we feel inside cause us to feel a certain way but when our actions speak otherwise, it leaves other people questioning our character. After reading Catcher in the Rhye by J.D. Salinger, I realized that though actions do speak louder than words, they do not entirely define who we are as human beings. Throughout the entire novel, the main character, a teenage boy named Holden, constantly expresses his hatred for phoniness. He is in love with the idea of innocence, but is somewhat of a hypocrite because he is a compulsive liar who enjoys putting himself in situations where he is forced to pretend to be something/someone that he is not. This causes the audience to feel like he is an unreliable character and narrator because his actions do not align with his word.
Russel James © 2015
As a reader, I found myself feeling extremely frustrated with Holden’s character because of the inconsistency of his actions. However, after I finished reading the novel, I came to the realization that Holden is like any other teenager and/or human being on this planet. He has his own feelings, morals, beliefs, etc. but sometimes his actions do not line up with these emotions. He strongly expresses his opinions every chance he gets because this novel provides a deeper insight of what it is like to be most teenagers—lost and earnestly trying to find themselves. His character embodies the overall confusion one may feel through a wide range of emotions. Even though his actions do not correlate with what he claims to feel or believe, I don’t think this necessarily makes him a bad character. It is easy for readers to point out that he is a conflicting individual because of his actions; however, understanding the normalcy of this type of behavior makes it easier to accept him as a character. With this, I think people should be more understanding when it comes to people’s words and their actions. There is a huge difference between saying what you say just to say it, and saying what you say because you mean it. I think it is completely normal to feel a certain way but act upon it differently because this is a huge part of learning and growing. Some may say that we lose our innocence as we grow up because we are exposed to different situations or types of people in this world, but I disagree. I firmly believe that innocence is never necessarily lost because learning, growing, and changing are all a part of our lives as human beings. Our innocence will always be deep within the crevices of our hearts because we all latch onto an unknown hope. Actions speaker louder than words, but these actions are not always an accurate depiction of our true character. Throughout this hectic year, I have learned that sometimes we make decisions that do not make any sense. Some may judge and try to beat down your character when your words do not align with your actions, however, I think there are a great deal of people who are compassionate, understanding, and most importantly, forgiving. With this being said, I do not think that we should stop expressing our feelings because even though it prevents people from setting expectations of how we should act, language and words allow us to express our love and feelings with other people. You know the true intentions of your heart and as you grow, you will find the strength to act upon how you truly feel.