At around four or five I learned that with enough willpower I could make the impossible happen. It took me three whole days to accomplish my goal, but afterwards, it was as if the experience had made a permanent imprint on my DNA.
I grew up in the Soviet Union, not exactly the kind of place where children were protected, nurtured or cherished, and kindergarten was evidently no exception.
On my first day, I felt like an outsider; not only were the other kids, or the headmistress for the matter, particularly welcoming, but it also felt like it wasn't everyone else's first day. In the afternoon I remember watching the others ceremoniously lay out their mats in preparation for a nap. I stood there staring, thinking, "they want me to sleep? now? it's the middle of the day!"
While frozen in my bewildered stupor, a boy approached me, got very close and before I knew it he swung his arm and punched me in the face. My nose started to bleed profusely and I remember looking down at the warm, dark blood and thinking how unnatural it looked, all that red liquid spewing on my clothes, liquid I had never before seen. The angry headmistress came running, I thought surely she was coming to my rescue, to coddle me and punish the culprit. Instead, she whisked me up violently, yelling at me and took me to the bathroom to wash the blood.
I watched in the mirror, helplessly dangling from her arm like a marionette as her furious expression and less than loving touch continued to betray me. Hours later my mom arrived to pick me up. I remember standing quietly, exhausted, feeling like a tiny thimble as the giant adults discussed my unacceptable behavior. The headmistress lying about my supposed provocation of the boy, my mother, clearly looking like she not only believed her but that she too was equally angry and disappointed with me.
What I remember most was not yet having the right words, or the right way to explain my side of the story, and the frustration that came with being misrepresented and completely misunderstood.
The next morning I kicked and screamed and yelled all the way back there. On the third day, I kicked and yelled even harder, and on the fourth day my mother gave up and hired a sitter.
More than anything, that experience taught me that, sometimes you have to ask for what you want by shouting it from the rooftops, and I've been appropriately shouting my desires at the world ever since. More often times than not, it hears me, and responds with a thunderous, resounding roar that delightfully rattles my heart.