I grew up in a family where each of its members could be defined by a specific quote or amusing statement that he or she made that encompassed the core of his or hers personality. Where my mother “was always right,” and “nothing was ever my [sister’s] fault,” my quote would become the definition of Sierra. Although I have several ridiculous quotes that haunt me at family reunions and parent teacher conferences, a particular quote that has come to characterize me was first uttered in the August before my first grade year on my school supply shopping excursion at the Office Max: “Ah,” I said, as I inhaled the papery aroma, “I love the smell of supplies.” Notebooks, to be specific.
And since my youth and until this day, I’ve found nothing more promising, more exciting or thrilling than a single completely blank Mead, college-ruled, 70 page notebook.
Possibly my odd fixation arose from the writer within, or perhaps I was just a particular breed of obsessive compulsive, but even in first grade, I had a different understanding of the possibilities contained in a single notebook than the average homo sapien in today’s society. A blank notebook was not just a compilation of lined paper waiting to be defamed by notes of bored high school students. A blank notebook stood as a representation of my potential: Nothing yet, but capable of becoming the next great American novel. And beginning in the first grade, I would get a good three days of excitement out of these collections of paper before I would begin to write in them, pondering which notebook would become my math notes (always an ugly color), which would house my fanciful stories (electrifying shades of purple or red), and which would become my “Harriet the Spy” observation journal (an inconspicuous color—black or white). As I matured, my notebooks evolved into to-do lists and planners (bright blue so I was less likely to lose them), financial planners (green to match the shade of the American dollar bill) and my most precious novels (color indistinguishable because the front cover was plastered with notes and magazine clippings, trying to kindle creativity before I set to work). To me, a blank notebook had a million definitions, it could become anything I desired, a topic of my own choosing. It represented everything that I could and would become. A vacant notebook, though defining me in many senses, was almost beyond definition.
I have two drawers in my dresser dedicated to my many notebooks. But my packrat-like tendencies are an insight to my past, a vision of the potential that I have already fulfilled. I love reflecting upon old notebooks, watching my writing skills take form and my personality take flight. I realize, however, that I have not reached my own maximum potential. I have a lifetime left to desecrate, doodle, and personalize a multitude of blank notebooks. Fortunately, Office Max is only a few minutes away.
I want to fill every single notebook that stands for Sierra Robinson. I feel as though I have notebooks waiting for classes and lectures, pages that will be ignited by the learning. I have notebooks informing me that they are to become journal that cannot wait to hear about my years at BYU. I have a notebook that wants to hear of my spiritual revelations and my testimony. These notebooks are still sitting, are so eager to be filled, and I am so eager to fill them.
And so one may ask me why I am going to college. And I will tell them “So that I can fill my notebooks.” So that I can exceed my potential.