As a young child, there were many things I was unsure of, but one thing that I was certain of was who I was. It’s hard to believe that a seven year old would have a good sense of self, but compared to the other children of my age, I felt as though I had a solid foundation of who I was and what I wanted to be. As I got a bit older and school became more than just playing kickball at recess and coloring a worksheet for homework, I began to lose the part of me I thought I once knew. Once I reached High School, I felt sincerely that I had lost all creativity and confidence I had once held years ago. I felt as if I was put into a box. Everything was so structured, that there was a serious lack of creative freedom. Once the time came when I finally entered college, I was suddenly in a place where I was given an abundance of creative opportunities. I was able to express myself in more ways than I imagined possible.
The epigraphs we have explored in class thus far have helped me reflect on my life as well as the way I think. The epigraph that has impacted me the most is Percival Everett’s ‘I AM NOT MYSELF TODAY’. This piece of writing stood out to me, because it perfectly captures the feeling of going back and reflecting on the past. I have been able to explore the depths of what I have gained and lost as I explore this new part of my life. The epigraph perfectly encapsulates this feeling. A line in the epigraph that perfectly captures this is, “I came back to this place to find something, to connect with something lost, to reunite if not with my whole self, then with a piece of it.” Growing up can feel very melancholy, as you are forced to let go of pieces of yourself that help mold who you are as a human being. Being able to revisit those parts of yourself that you have let go of can be very intense, but also can provide a sense of comfort. This writing has encouraged me to rediscover those parts of myself that I felt like I had let go of years ago. When you are a child, nobody really tries to tell you who you can and cannot be, but once you reach a certain age, you are approached with people and situations that make you question your identity. You are no longer asked to write about your favorite foods, or the highlight of your summer. You are suddenly expected to write long structured essays about the exact same topic as all of the other peers in your classes. School suddenly feels like a broken record. You lose a sense of self. By going back and reflecting on those parts you were once taught to embrace, you are able break that pattern, and reopen those creative parts of your mind.
Another aspect of the epigraph that I find compelling was when the author states, “ I have learned that my name is not my name.” This speaks volumes to the nuances of the several interpersonal relationships you hold with others. Who you are as a person is far more than how you are defined by society. The interactions we hold with others often define us. However, far more often than not, many of the thoughts we hold dear to us are not expressed to the average person. As I previously mentioned, I was not able to express my creative abilities to the fullest extent according to the societal norms surrounding me. As I have gotten older, and reflected more on my past self, I have been able to disregard the standards placed upon me, and I have yet again been able to live my life according to my own standards.
One of the readings we have discussed in class that relates to my issues with self identity and the pressure both school and society places on us, is Laura Skrzypczyk’s ‘The Art of Scaring.”. This blog post discusses the issues in schools surrounding the lack of information and support students receive, due to the risks that some may face. But what is life, without the risks? How will you be able to gain your full potential without taking risks in life? A wonderful point Laura made was when she stated, “I never stopped to wonder if I truly wanted to know the risks of the job market and shortcomings of a college experience. However, after much consideration, I confirmed that I do want to know exactly what I’m getting into.” By knowing, to some extent some of the risks you may have to face in life, no matter the circumstances or situations, you are able to reflect and reevaluate how to approach the next step.. I believe it is better to take risks and fail, than not to have taken risks and never succeeded. By not allowing students to express themselves, and prohibiting them from taking risks, what is there for them to gain? Life truly has no rulebook to follow, so why restrict students from reaching their full potential? In the short few weeks I have been in this class, I have learned far more than I have ever learned in my four years of High School. I have been able to relearn many of the things that were stripped away from me. I have gained a new sense of creative freedom. Moving forward, I now know it is okay to take risks, because with every failure there is a lesson, and with every success there is a new opportunity provided.