Who am I? At first glance, it’s a simple looking question and seems equally simple to answer. Most often, I’ll start answering this question by listing off things about myself – my age, what I do for a living, how many children I have, and so on. But do those things truly define who I am? What about my hobbies, interests and personality? Once I started thinking about this ‘simple’ question a little more, I quickly realized, it’s a lot more complicated than I thought – and I found it to be a difficult one to answer.
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See, who I am can also depend on where I am, what I’m doing, who I’m with, among other things. Who I am is always changing in some ways. Some people will never see certain sides of me, but each of the many sides of my character make up who I am. In some situations, and with certain people, I’m totally outgoing, but pair me up with different people and I’m shy as a mouse. Those people who’ve only seen my shy side would never believe that ‘who I am’ is someone who can belt out Miley Cyrus’ ‘Party In the U.S.A’ at Saturday night karaoke like no one’s business!
But there are also, I believe, the fundamental things in our character that truly define us that will never change, no matter how old we get, or who we’re with. I am someone who believes that everyone should live their lives – as long as they aren’t hurting anyone else – doing whatever makes them happy. I’ve never, and will never, push my own personal beliefs on anyone. And, even when I don’t see eye-to-eye with someone else on a topic, I realize that it’s not my place to impose what I believe in their life.
So maybe that’s who I am? But that can’t be it, right? There’s got to be more to me than just my ‘ability’ to leave other people alone, doesn’t there?
In reality, it’s a complex question to answer. And, I could answer as truthfully and thoroughly as I possibly could today, but by tomorrow, that answer could be totally different. I’ve heard so many stories of individuals who ‘became different people’ after a life-altering event – birth of a child, a loved one dying or a close-call for themselves. Experience can change everything, and often does. I know for myself, I’m not the same person I was when I was a teenager, or even in my 20’s or 30’s – not in every single way, at least!
Although we often feel like who we are is largely ‘decided’ and defined by others and how they view us, we are the only person who is with ourselves at every moment of our lives from when we’re born to our death. I am the only person experiencing this completely unique perspective of being me. It’s also been said before that who you are when no one is watching will truly define who you are as a person. So, it’s really up to each person to recognize who they are when there are no eyes on them, and create their own definition.
Who I am is an always-changing, learning and evolving person. I’m willing to learn from my experiences, apply them to my life and hope that they make me a better person. And, if I can help do the same in someone else’s life, that just adds so much happiness to who I am as a person involved in their life. No, not everyone I know will see my best Miley Cyrus impression, but maybe that’s not the side of who I am that they need to see.
Who am I? That is a simple question, yet it is one without a simple answer. I am many things—and I am one thing. But I am not a thing that is just lying around somewhere, like a pen, or a toaster, or a housewife. That is for sure. I am much more than that. I am a living, breathing thing, a thing that can draw with a pen and toast with a toaster and chat with a housewife, who is sitting on a couch eating toast. And still, I am much more.
I am a man.
And I am a former baby and a future skeleton, and I am a distant future pile of dust. I am also a Gemini, who is on the cusp.
I am “brother” and I am “son” and I am “father” (but just according to one person, who does not have any proof but still won’t seem to let it go). Either way, I am moving very soon and not letting her know about it. I am asking you to keep that between us.
I am trustworthy and loyal, but at the same time I am no Boy Scout. No, I am certainly not. I am quite the opposite, in fact. And by opposite I do not mean Girl Scout. No. I mean Man Scout. And by that I do not mean Scout Leader. In fact, I am not affiliated with the Scouts at all. Let’s just forget about the Scouts and Scouting altogether, O.K.?
I am concepts and thoughts and feelings and outfits. And I am each of these all at once, unless I am in the shower. Then I am not outfits, because that would be uncomfortable.
To some I am known as Chief. And these are usually people who work in Radio Shack or try to sell me shoes. To others I am known as Buddy. These are people who dwell in bars and wonder if I’ve got a problem or what it is that I am “looking at.” And to still others, who are in that same bar, standing just off to the side, I am “Get Him!”
I am he and I am him. I am this and I am that. And I am, from time to time, Roberta, if I am in a chat room.
People have known me by many titles. In high school, I was Student and Key Club Vice-President and Queer Bait. In college, I was Pledge and then Disappointed and then Transfer Student. I am still amazed at how picky certain so-called “brotherly” organizations can be. And I am actually glad that they didn’t choose me for their stupid fraternity.
To some I am fantasy, and to others I am Frank, mostly because I have told them that this is my name—even though it is not even close to my name. I am a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a pita. Why the pita? That counts as another mystery.
I am everything and I am nothing. I am just kidding; I am not everything and nothing. That would be ridiculous. I am just everything.
I am what I eat. And I am this especially when I bite my nails.
I have been called Hey, You! and Get Out of the Way! and Look Out! And then, some time later, Plaintiff.
I am my own worst critic. I am going to give you an example. “That’s not me enough” is the kind of thing I am prone to say about myself. See what I mean? I am sure you do.
I am the silent majority.
I am a loud minority.
I am not talking about Puerto Ricans when I say that, because I am not a racist. I am just clearing that up. In fact, I am pretty sure I have at least one friend from each of the races (Hi, Guillermo).
I am friend. I am foe. I am fo’ sho’. What up, y’all?
I am sorry about that. I was just talking to one of my race friends, a black one. I am white and I am black. And I am both of these when I am dressed as a mime. And then I am sh-h-h.
I am Batman, but only on Halloween. And then I am not invited to many parties. But I am fine with that, because that just makes me an even more accurate Batman (because Batman does not go to parties as Batman but only as Bruce Wayne). I am right about this.
I am someone who likes to go to the park. But I am not the guy with the Labrador retriever and the tennis ball and the tattered book under his arm, who is wearing fleece and is kind of tan. No. I am not that guy. I am sick of that guy and all the women who talk to him.
I am the Walrus, but not the one you’re probably thinking of. I am the Other Walrus, the one who is less the Walrus in the sense of legendary music and more the Walrus in the sense of his tendency to lie around on a beach for too long.
I am bravery. I am courage. I am valor. I am daring. I am holding a thesaurus.
I am the sun. I am the moon. I am the rain, I am the earth. I am these when I am taking mushrooms with Kevin. I am good friends with Kevin. I am not sure what Kevin’s last name is.
I am sometimes referred to as Excuse Me in an annoyed tone of voice, because apparently I am in the way. I am so sorry. I am supposed to be some sort of mind reader, I guess. I am moving out of the way now as slowly as I possibly can. I am doing this and there’s nothing you can do about it.
I am often the one they call You but I am no more You than you. I am me. And I am more Me than you are or can ever be. And one time I was Corey for almost five minutes while I was talking with a stranger, until she realized that I was not her friend Corey.
I am neither here nor there, but there—a little to the left. Yeah. That’s me.
I am waving at you. I am waving right at you now.
I am looking right at you.
I am sensing that you don’t know me. I am starting to feel awkward.
I am getting out of here. ♦