Who am I? Who am I? If I were handed an assessment and stumbled upon this question, there is a high probability that I would turn in a paper covered with frustrated scribbles and dark remnants of tear splatters. I would surely hope that the teacher who made the first mistake of inquiring such a broad, self-assessing question would not make the second mistake of expecting his/her students to reply in a multiple choice fashion. No student – or teacher, for that matter – can summarize a person’s entity by shading in a bubble. Even attempting such a feat i s like inducting one’s self into an insane asylum. Then again, there is compelling evidence to argue that high schools these days resemble more of a looney bin than the public would like to admit. There are over-emotional, stressed, cryptic, obsessive, dangerous, criminal (and these are just a few examples) “inmates” (students) that have no choice but to attend the institute. Their main source of supervision can be divided into two categories: those that hate being there more than the inmates themselves, and those who get a revolting sense of happiness from the dismal atmosphere. The food can barely be labeled so, the rooms are small, the bathrooms reek of an unidentifiable substance, though I don’t know why anyone would want to know, and the inmates are often subject to assessments that are stacked against them. These are the kind of assessments that hold the question “Who am I?”
A) I am __________ (insert name here). If one reads the question only at face value, then their reply will reach only face value – there is nothing more to be said.
B) I am __________ (insert insulting cliché ). Selecting this response is as revolting as an innocent man begging for a higher voltage on the electric chair. Populations suffered through centuries of war, poverty, and hard labor; doing everything humanly possible to establish a more acceptable life than the dictatorial, dividing “brands” inflicted upon them. Then why, out of all the senseless actions that a human can perform, would one let society label them as a “dumb jock”, or “mentally insane”, or an “annoying nerd”, or “one of those art kids”? Whether or not we ask for it, those that surround us use analytic adjectives and nouns referring to our personalities, appearances, and actions. These words may or may not have bad connotations, yet can often be misinterpreted into insults. Accepting these invectives, donning the shame that accompanies surrender, can lead to self-hatred and lower self-esteem – since, as they have condoned, they are “ugly,” “fat,” “dumb,” “worthless,” and in some cases “such a bitch.”
C) I am ________ (insert a brief synopsis of personal history). This answer isn’t terribly offensive, yet would leave the inclination that the inmate who circled “C” uses their history to classify who they are. In order to judge oneself in such a way (a fast transition from past to present) would leave little time to reflect on their life events – only the major points would be highlighted. And, as most of us know from the news and other “informational” sources, events with negative connotations often become more prominent than the positive. Thus, this inmate would portray themselves by all of their bad memories, which would be presented in first-person. This exposes the opportunity to cast blame on oneself for occurrences of which they had little, if any, control of the outcome. I once had a friend that blamed herself for every minuscule incident. “It’s not his fault. He dumped me because I wasn’t pretty enough”, she’d say. Or “They didn’t invite me because I’m too fat to be popular.” And the most loathed thing I ever heard her say, “It’s my fault I was molested.” She never once offered any substantial reasoning as to why she believed that, but she let it dominate her self-esteem, her relationships – her whole entire life was consumed by that incident, and how it was “her fault”, never blaming those who were mostly responsible. She tried to use the fact that she had made “choices” that lead to the horrendous events of her past. One of the leading causes of self-reproach and strain is the fact that we humans have choices. There is not – nor will there ever be – a time in anyone’s life where there is not a choice to be made. While this appears to be the utmost representation of freedom, it comes with the looming fear of making the “wrong” decision. This “freedom” can be manipulated and disguised by corrupted puppeteers seeking out the most vulnerable, which then can spiral into an internal conflict that appears to be insanity to the outside world.
D) I don’t know who I am. Well then, it seems that this inmate really has no clue as to what it means to be them. Then again, does any given patient really understand the complexity of their life? Would they comprehend that they have touched multiple people in a way that can never be erased, forgotten, or overlooked? Obviously my friend’s attacker did not. Obviously those that see themselves insignificant, who kill themselves because “no one will miss them” do not. Instead of just being captive in schools and work, we are all incarcerated in life. Life is our little padded cell block. Yes, I am stating that every human being is “affected with madness”. Yes, I am claiming that no one really knows (or can know) what it means to be them. But this is only an insult if one believes that they are alone in this insanity. Every inmate is “full of cracks or flaws:” there is no sanity in our little institutions. What, then, does one do to cope with life? They sit back, talk with the voices in their head, and muddle through the assessments handed to them – without fretting over who they are.