Who Am I?

Who am I? I am a 17-year-old female. I live in Colorado. I play three different instruments, participate in three honor societies and two clubs and volunteer at a local hospital and at the public library as part of the teen advisory council. I like to write. And I'm tired of answers like this.

When asked about who we are, as a whole we have a tendency to define ourselves by external or basic things. We talk about our age and gender, followed by a ceaseless list of what we do, what our hobbies are, where we work and so on. We take the easy way out and give the easy answer. We don't usually cut the fluff and really talk about what lies inside; it's too messy and hard. When a college asks, "Who are you?" most of us will give generic answers. Many will talk about extracurricular activities and the things they like to do.

Yet if we're honest with ourselves, are we really that simple?

In reality, we're complex creatures, and the depth of our emotions and thoughts can be astonishing, and the same goes for the depth of our characters. External definitions of our physical location, occupation, the people we see every day -- these can change, and they do. So why do we all-too-often hide behind simple definitions filled with temporary descriptions that only give a glimpse of the people we truly are? Ditch the answers fit for online dating questionnaires. They don't really tell us the kind of person you are at heart; instead, they're cold facts on a piece of paper.

Who are our inner-selves? What are the aspects of us that truly matter? What are the stories behind the person you see in the mirror? What are the things we think about, the things that worry us, the things we believe in? When we strip away all the material items, take you away from the life we live, and end up in a new world with new people, who and what is left?

During my sophomore year of high school, I constantly bombarded myself with this question. After my family and I moved, I no longer lived in the town I grew up in, I no longer saw my friends every day, and my life was stripped from me (or so it seemed). At the time, it appeared as though my life had changed dramatically. I felt isolated and alone, and I wasn't sure who I was anymore. Yet it was because of this experience that I uncovered myself. Because I no longer had the external things that I'd once defined myself with, I was stripped bare, and the only thing left was me.

Yes, I understand that it's easy to get lost in external things and concepts. These things can influence our lives and point us in different directions. They're important, too. But when we take everything away, we're left with the most essential version of ourselves, a version in which the job we have and the place we call home don't matter as much.

So who am I? This, of course, is always impossible to answer in full and to describe in words for anybody, especially as I believe everyone can learn more about himself or herself every day. However, I can at least offer a glimpse into my inner person, some of the deeper part of me most people don't see.

I'm not a 17 year-old girl; in some ways, I'm mature beyond my years, but my fears make me a preschooler about to jump off the diving board for the first time. I'm honestly desperately afraid of what the future may hold for me, and my insecurities can hold me back and keep me from doing what I want to do. I'm afraid of ending up alone in the world and that I will never find true love. Moreover, I'm afraid of becoming nothing and disappearing, that when I grow old and die it will be as if my comparatively short existence on Earth never happened. I have a hard time sharing my deepest feelings and emotions.

I also have a thin skin and have a hard time taking criticism or harsh remarks because in my mind I go back to second grade, when I was a new kid and bullied for a period because my ethnicity made me look different from other kids. As a defense mechanism, when I started middle school this fear of getting hurt turned me into a relatively meaner person compared to who I really am. I'm not proud of it, but I won't deny it, either, because I learned from it and moved on. Furthermore, I'm afraid of failure and falling.

My pride has a bigger head than it should, and sometimes it keeps me from being my best self. Yet my pride also lends to my inner-strength, which has the incredible ability to pull me through the toughest times. This inner-strength can overcome my fears and uncertainties when necessary, and I have an independent streak that I can lean back on. I know I can stand alone if need be and that I have the courage to keep moving forward no matter what. I refuse to let my fears paralyze me and keep me from doing anything. I'll protect and defend the people I care about, and I'm the kind of person people can depend on, the steady rock in the ocean.

Additionally, I'm a very introspective person, and I use that to learn more about myself and push myself to become a better person. I have infinite hope, and I deeply value the power of believing in myself. I really do believe I can change the world and help others, and I view my dreams as a treasure. After all, they have given my life more meaning and purpose than I could have ever hoped for. I am a strong believer in true love, and yes, I am a big softie and romantic at heart. I realize I can be naïve and optimistic at times, but I like me that way. Most importantly, I accept and love myself.

The question remains: Who are you?

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