A One-of-a-Kind Gift

Alexandra Klaudia Süveges

As a kid, I constantly got bored of things easily. My parents attempted to exceed my expectations by buying presents that could serve a higher level of entertainment. I often got dolls, houses corresponding to them, and makeshift arts and crafts. Nothing kept my eyes glued to it for more than a few hours. I put it into my treasure box and let it become alien to me until one day I’d open it and find interest again.

Until one day I grew up enough to understand what I had been doing wrong.

As an only child, with my parents working overtime, I had to stay in the school’s daycare until the sky grew dark and cloudy. Born gifted, I didn’t have anything to study, I’d recall the lessons word by word, I was utterly bored. Ignorance took the worst of me and I had no one to talk to and just sat in a corner until closing.

For my twelfth birthday, I got a one-of-a-kind gift, something I could not put anywhere. My parents bought me a chess set.

“But mom… I don’t have anyone to play with”—was my response throughout the day. She might not have known how I cared more about my grades than social interactions, but board games were there, impossible to play alone.

So I took the polystyrene box and packed the elements on the black and white checked board. Sixteen see-through, gleaming and polished chess figures, scattered all around the last corner of the classroom. I, myself, do not know what I was thinking while waiting for anyone to come and play with me. Not thinking much of it, I started reading the rules provided in the box.

“Can I play with you?” one of my classmates said, I had never really talked with her before, but this was my only chance. I motioned to her to sit down, and we started the match.

I lost.

The daycare ended, and I had to be shaken back to reality. Why did I lose? Wasn’t I supposed to be the best at everything? Why did she leave smiling, as if she hadn’t proven I could be pushed away from perfection?

From that day on I tried harder and harder in school, but not in learning. I was curious to see how she’d beaten me despite not being on my level. She had a lot of friends with somewhat good grades. I wanted to be like that. I had fed myself that I needed to be lonely to maintain a standard for others.

Opening up to people was extremely difficult; I was known for my maximalism and somewhat of a nerd, but they accepted me and made me become warmer towards others. They opened my eyes to how perfection doesn’t equal values such as grades, and how good you can pretend your life is while it’s falling apart from lack of affection.

It seems to have worked, although, to this day, I have no idea how to play chess.