“I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.” –Mary Oliver

I have a bad habit of talking about myself in the third person. I don’t really know why. It usually just sort of slips out without my thinking about it. I’ve even taken to drawing a little dash on my wrist every time I do to try to stop, because it’s really starting to annoy me. But the other day I was reminded of an exercise we did back in high school. We each had fifteen minutes to write “Who is She?” statements about ourselves in the third person. The idea was that we could be more objective and insightful if we looked from outside ourselves and tried to see ourselves through the eyes of the world. It’s been almost four years since I wrote my “Who is She?” statement and I think it could use some updating. But first, the original.

2007: Who is She?

She is adventurous, sailing the sea of life with more than a few waves. She is impatient, always ready to move on to the next big challenge. She is a dreamer, creating castles on the air of what she wishes her life to be, knowing that some may never be fulfilled, but willing to believe in the beauty of her dreams. She wishes she could stay just as she is, but realizes that the time to take the next step of her journey is swiftly coming. She is a student, a lover of history, with a voracious appetite for knowledge. She worries that she will disappoint those who are closest to her. She wonders what God’s plan for her is and hopes that it will soon be revealed. She is ENFJ-Extroverted, Intuitive, Feeling and Judging. She is a hidden introvert, afraid of loud noises, with a dislike of the crowds where she often finds herself on the edge. She is a musician, creating a symphony from the notes of her days. She is a sprite, lively, laughing, loving, ever-ready to give a hug, with a never-ending smile. She puts pressure on herself to live up to the expectations she feels people have for her. She is a palindrome, looking from the end to see the beginning. She is ever-changing, always optimistic, always joyful. She lives in the moment. She is beautiful.

2010: Who is She?

Starting at the basics, she is a daughter. A sister. A friend. A student. A girl. For all her confidence on the outside, she feels vulnerable and lost much of the time, second-guessing many of her decisions and actions. She lives in the constant uncertainty of becoming someone she dislikes or who is disliked by others. She loves staying up late and getting up early, and depends on naps to get her through the week. She hates being sick, but somehow manages to always catch something just when it’s the most inconvenient. She has one biological sibling, a hilarious Sibling-Creature who will one day rule the world. Her sister is not related to her but rather was mutually adopted on a school bus somewhere in the middle of nowhere early in the morning. Her family is everything, and as of today, she gets to see them sooner rather than later. Her friendships often feel like extensions of her family, a feeling that she relies on when she’s far away from home.

After moving to the “Deep South” two and a half years ago, she’s become accustomed to the major cultural differences. Grits and gravy over casseroles, football over basketball and unsweet tea over sweet tea have all become facts of life, and she now understands that a mention of horse racing, expressways and Benedictine will just cause eyes to glaze over with disinterest or confusion. She feels that she’s found a place on her college campus, but sometimes feels unsettled by the changes that occur each year.

The things she wants to do are often complicated and contradictory. She wants to stay at home, but travel the world. She wants to try new things, but nothing too outrageous. She is a palindrome, able to be understood backwards and forwards. She probably cares about what other people think too much for her own good. She doesn’t want to come off as too proud of her accomplishments and she doesn’t want to seem too self-indulgent. She tries not to let others define her, but sometimes ends up defining herself by what others say about her. She suffers from at least one major crisis of identity per year, when she doubts herself, her gifts, her dreams and life goals. She knows and believes that she can do, achieve, be whoever and whatever she wants to. She works hard when she really wants something, because hard work makes something worthwhile.

She likes to be alone, but she sometimes gets lonely in a crowd. She lives too much in her head, internalizing her feelings until she feels like she’s going to explode. She doesn’t like burdening other people with her problems, choosing instead to try to help others with theirs in the hope that her own troubles will be forgotten. She believes in maintaining a childlike sense of wonder. It’s the reason why she loves Pixar movies so much. Even though she’s not necessarily in the targeted age range, she can still learn something from the sweet, colorful stories. Sentimentality and nostalgia from time to time make her happy.

Two of the things she is most proud of have all come in the past six months. They are things she and others have termed Brave Things, although they sometimes seem small and insignificant. First, she cut her hair. This should be ordinary, run of the mill, nothing special. But until she cut her hair she had no idea how much she felt defined by it, how much she liked to hide behind it. Without it, she looked at herself differently, in excruciating detail, inside and out, analyzing her aspect of her life. When the analysis was complete, the microscope packed away and the hair already starting to grow back, she decided that she really did like herself and skipped merrily off into her next great adventure. Or so she would have liked. Her summer internship was undeniably the coolest thing she’s ever done (in her humble opinion) and yet before she began, she retreated once again into fear and scrutiny. Thankfully, this didn’t last very long. Instead, she took Woody Allen’s advice and masked her incompetence by plunging in with enthusiasm. It was the best thing she’d ever done. She knew for certain that what she wanted to do with her life was really for her and tries harder to prevent nagging fear and doubt from invading her life and taking over her mind. To her, her dream is true.

She has known she wanted to teach history since she was fifteen years old and walked into sophomore American history. Of course, it could be traced back to her childhood love of the movie “Johnny Tremain”, but sophomore history sealed the deal. Now, the medium of teaching has changed, but the dream of learning about the past remains the same. She refuses to be daunted by the idea that “those who can, do and those who can’t, teach.” The teachers she has had have proved this adage to be wrong time and time again. Her passion for history and museums may seem strange and boring to some, but the stories she finds in the past are so exciting that for once it doesn’t matter to her what other people think. Every day on the calendar has a past, present and future and because she lives in the present and hopes to know the future, only the past remains elusive until she learns its stories. Her life is an extension of past lives and work. History is her dream.

She has other dreams too, of course. She wants to ride in a hot air balloon and witness the Olympic Games. She wants to visit all 50 states, and every province in Canada. She wants to hug a panda and visit the statue of Peter Pan in Kensington Garden. She wants to be a good person, to love and be loved. She wants to give and contribute to the world. She wants to teach a child how to ride a bike and tie their shoes the left-handed way. She doesn’t dream of sailing around the world or climbing Mt. Everest. She’d rather hold the original Declaration of Independence and visit the Crayola factory again.

She doesn’t like to do things wrong. Growing up, she usually didn’t break the rules and she did what was expected of her. She has never questioned this because she doesn’t want to know what would have happened if she had bucked authority. Her overactive imagination helps enough with that. Although she has questioned some of her decisions, she only regrets not following through with her Senior Prank idea.

She believes in magic, fairies, the power of prayer and chocolate, luck and smiles. She remains an ENFJ and thinks that these letters actually are a pretty good definition of her personality. She loves Spring and Autumn, both beginnings in their own way. Carrots and vanilla pudding can make any ordinary day special. Her favorite holiday is unabashedly the Fourth of July and although vastly historically inaccurate, “Pocahontas” is her favorite Disney soundtrack. The movie Stranger Than Fiction always makes her cry, because living your life seems so beautiful when broken down into the mundane and marvelous. She believes in doing what brings joy and using optimism to change reality, using imagination to create dream spaces. She has no idea how to live in the real world, or the so-called grown-up world but relishes the excitement of the journey. Her imperfections make her perfect. She is a sprite, lively and laughing, a lover of children and animals and daisies. She wouldn’t change anything because she believes herself to be beautiful and she knows her life is wonderful.

La Vita è bella.

“The stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds, and there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own.” –Mary Oliver

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