I am…

In college, I took a lot of psychology classes. I loved them. People, the mind, emotions – it all fascinates me. Always has, always will.

I remember a lot from these classes, surprisingly. I found that I drank in the information thirstily, and tended to really process and even apply a lot of what I was learning.  Even now, about two years since I’ve taken a psychology class at all, I find myself remembering and using information I gathered over time.  However, one moment in particular stands out to me.

I remember it so distinctly. I remember exactly which classroom of which building I was sitting in. I even remember which side of the classroom I was sitting on. The professor asked us all to pull out a piece of paper and a pen.

He said, “I’m going to give you all 30 seconds. I want you to write down as many true statements that start with ‘I am’ as you can in that time.”

Easy enough. We all silently and diligently did as we were told.  After we were done, he called on volunteers to read their lists aloud. I listened curiously as the students around me read off their lists, most of them containing phrases like “I am free”, “I am a dancer”, “I am proud”, “I am a feminist”, “I am strong”, “I am generous”.  I furrowed my brow and looked back down at my list:

I am Valerie.
I am 19.
I am a student.
I am a daughter.
I am a sister.
I am a friend.

The other students saw themselves for what they felt, what they were inside, or something they belonged to. They all had these words that meant something to them, that helped them know who they were.

The teacher went on to describe the difference between the types of responses. What it means about your personality or your state of mind if you answer one way or the other.  I think this memory stuck with me because it bothered me so much. Why didn’t I have anything to define myself by? Why were all of my words so boring and specific?

Why was my list more an answer to the question, “To others, I am…”?

Now, years later, I have been through many major life changes. I’ve grown and learned a lot in these formative years. I don’t know what brought this memory up from the recesses of my brain recently, but I was thinking about this list and how I wanted a do-over. My 24 year old self wants to redo this assignment, because it wasn’t really fair to ask a 19 year old who she was.

Then I realized, what’s stopping me?

So, if I were asked today, to make a list of true statements that begin with “I am”, this is what I would write:

I am Valerie.
I am 24.
I am a daughter.
I am a sister.
I am a friend.
I am kind.
I am funny.
I am loud (when I want to be).
I am a Gleek.
I am shy, sometimes.
I am friendly.
I am able to find the silver lining. Always.
I am emotional.
I am an avid reader.
I am musical.
I am a lesbian.
I am empathetic.
I am a good listener.
I am an anglophile.
I am a writer.
I am happy.
I am me.

~ by Valerie Anne on 09/28/2011.

2 Responses to “I am…”

  1. OMG. You were right. I died. I’m dead. I died. LOVE!

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