Wash away the glitter

A life less ordinary is not a recipe for success.

by Jenny Phan

Being remarkable is something all parents wish for their children. Children are taught to strive for perfection and to be “special” in one way or another. The inability to satisfy expectations is what sparks abnormalities.

“Miss Remarkable and her Career” takes readers through a journey of one woman’s life and her struggles to find acceptance from others and also from herself.

The main character is a squiggler, a person who creates artwork by squiggling lines on paper. She begins her life overly confident she can change the world with her modified drawing of a wheel that encloses a flower.

This confidence was created when she was a child from her father’s influence, who is portrayed as a beyond-human figure who leaves because Earth isn’t good enough for him.

Throughout the story, the main character, who remains nameless, is taken on a journey toward controlling her own life.

As she grows older, her confidence level drops. She loses her job, her lover and her predictability. She realizes she does not know as much as she thought she did and that her life is not as controlled as she once thought.

This pressure to become a top-notch member of society depicted in the book mirrors American life, but American life reveals more drastic, unforeseen consequences.

Look at the variety of musical genres out there. The majority of songs seem to be written about not being accepted or not fulfilling expectations of parents, friends or even of oneself. Not living up to goals is a major problem in U.S. society.

Children are being put on Ritalin ostensibly to counteract their short attention spans. Problems arise because this detours a child from the original goal: being remarkable. Prozac is prescribed to children to help combat depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder, but is medicating our way to “normalcy” really a good strategy? Moreover, how does this contribute to or detract from a child’s ability to rise to that level of “remarkable” their parents wish them to achieve?

Images of scientists, doctors, lawyers and presidents are carved in stone in the minds of young children, and the pressure to succeed becomes an ever-present, vital limb of our society. Many parents are overly paranoid about their children’s futures. What will they become? Why aren’t they learning as fast as other children? What if they don’t succeed?

These same issues are pervasive throughout “Miss Remarkable

and her Career” but with more humor and exaggeration. The depression and expectations that follow individuals are magically transformed into an innocent-looking little monster made of black squiggles that takes over the main character, but lives only because she feeds it.

Everyone has a black squiggly monster deep inside.

It drags her down, changing her physically and mentally. She changes from tall and self-assured to a short, slouching, nervous individual.

It is only when suicide comes into the picture that she realizes there is only one thing really important in life: life itself.

Changing the world, manipulating others to believe you are of

importance, is not the main purpose of life.

The illustrations of this last scene bring the audience to sympathize with her as she attempts to hang herself with her mother’s pearl necklace.

The detailed drawings and the comic-bubbled narration insert a more exaggerated tone to an already paranoid individual, and the result is a brilliant and truly comedic telling of struggling to live up to parental and internal expectations and how relationships, or a lack thereof, create low self-esteem.

Easy to read, and enjoyably illustrated, “Miss Remarkable and her Career” is honest and true to life. It brings insight into the reason why we put pressure on one another and why many times troubles are created by our own demons that live secretly, lurking deep within us.