Educated –– Tara Westover
Author: Tara Westover
Date Started: [[July 10th, 2021]]
Date Finished: [[July 18th, 2021]]
“It would be past dusk by then—that moment just before night sets in, when the landscape is visible only as darkness and lighter darkness, and you feel the world around you more than you see it.”
The call to education: The seed of curiosity had been planted; it needed nothing more than time and boredom to grow. Sometimes, when I was stripping copper from a radiator or throwing the five hundredth chunk of steel into the bin, I’d find myself imagining the classrooms where Tyler was spending his days. My interest grew more acute with every deadening hour in the junkyard, until one day I had a bizarre thought: that I should enroll in the public school.
Not knowing for certain, but refusing to give way to those who claim certainty, was a privilege I had never allowed myself. My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.
I was an incurious student that semester. Curiosity is a luxury reserved for the financially secure: my mind was absorbed with more immediate concerns, such as the exact balance in my bank account, who I owed how much, and whether there was anything in my room I could sell for ten or twenty dollars. I submitted my homework and studied for my exams, but I did so out of terror—of losing my scholarship should my GPA fall a single decimal—not from real interest in my classes.
Everything I had worked for, all my years of study, had been to purchase for myself this one privilege: to see and experience more truths than those given to me by my father, and to use those truths to construct my own mind. I had come to believe that the ability to evaluate many idea, many histories, many points of view, was at the heart of what it means to self-create. If I yielded now, I would lose more than an argument. I would lose custody of my own mind. This was the price I was being asked to pay, I understood that now. What my father wanted to cast from me wasn’t a demon: it was me.
The distance—physical and mental—that had been traversed in the last decade nearly stopped my breath, and I wondered if perhaps I had changed too much. All my studying, reading, thinking, traveling, had it transformed me into someone who no longer belonged anywhere?
The thing about having a mental breakdown is that no matter how obvious it is that you’re having one, it is somehow not obvious to you. I’m fine, you think. So what if I watched TV for twenty-four straight hours yesterday. I’m not falling apart. I’m just lazy. Why it’s better to think yourself lazy than think yourself in distress, I’m not sure. But it was better. More than better: it was vital.