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Favorite Sentences: So That I Would No Longer Be Afraid

Favorite Sentences: So That I Would No Longer Be Afraid

By Sylvia Jones

 

Norma, I did it by doing the things I was afraid of doing so that I would no longer be afraid.

This is my favorite sentence in literature. It comes from Sandra Cisneros’ essay “A House of My Own” and appears in the introduction of her first novel The House On Mango Street (1984). Before opening Mango Street my impression of Cisneros as a writer was solely based on her poetry, from: The Heart Rounds Up The Usual Suspects (1987) to I Am So Depressed I Feel Like Jumping in the River Behind My House but Won’t Because I’m Thirty-Eight and Not Eighteen (1994). On the page, Cisneros represented the exact kind of poet I wanted to be, jarring and audacious.

I didn’t read Mango Street until about five years ago, when I was 18. This is an unfortunate fact and I have often wondered what a difference it might have made if I had read it earlier. However, it is possible I came across it with perfect timing. I remember pausing and scanning the lines several times again and again.

I did it by doing the things I was afraid of doing so that I would no longer be afraid.

Every time I return to Mango Street, like a ritual I begin at that sentence. In hindsight, it resonated so deeply because it felt as though someone had in the most indiscreet and concise manner given me their secret formula to conquering the world.

so that I would no longer be afraid.

Perhaps, it is both a dare and a confession.

In sharing the doubts and concerns that plagued her early on and throughout her career, Cisneros revealed to me the importance and necessity of entertaining fear when it comes to cultivating my own voice.

I did it by doing the things I was afraid of doing so that I would no longer be afraid.

 

 

Sylvia Jones is a guest contributor at Café Américain and a first-year candidate in American University’s Creative Writing MFA program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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