In the 1994 drama film, “Nell,” Academy Award nominee Jodie Foster lives in a remote woodland cabin alone. She is a feral child: a human child who has lived isolated from human contact from a very young age, and has little or no experience of human care, behavior, or, crucially, of human language. Though I don’t live in a cabin in the remote woodlands, my home life resembles the movie as my parents tell me I spend too much time in my bedroom and not enough time engaging in conversation with them to learn new information about life. I don’t match the definition of a feral child, but my  isolation from my parents and peers, combined with perceived lack of social skills, matches with the film–to an extent.

Within a social setting, I tend to favor my own company to talking with others (but I have grown more comfortable talking to people), and  watch than play in the games, activities, and sports which everyone participates. It’s not that I dislike sports or games with people, two things determine my involvement: the activity and the participants. Also,I observe people’s behavior and their conduct with others to determine if I want to know more about the person when placed in a new social setting. 

When Nell is taken outside her natural habitat, she must learn to adapt to her new environment. Likewise, I was forced to adapt to a new setting after growing comfortable with a former one. Elementary school is one example. I attended Bethel Elementary School as a child, but my mother’s new job meant attending a new school: Forrest Elementary School. Unlike my classmates at Bethel Elementary School, my classmates at my new school were not always friendly towards me and I made more enemies there than my former school. I believed all my friends were at Bethel, not at Forrest. I remember growing angry because one particular classmate would say discouraging words in my direction. I recall her saying, “You can’t understand anything.” Twice. Ouch! Perhaps, it was this one student who caused me isolate myself from my peers. Or, this was among a series of incidents. Either way, a person or event, or both, contributed to my self-confidence deficiency.

Nell movie poster



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