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Identity: Existential Crisis at the Ripe Old Age of Fifteen

Joined: 9/29/2014
Posts: 1

You’re asking me to tell you who I am, as have so many other English teachers in the past. It’s ironic how a question, strung together with three of the most basic words in our language, usually receives the most complex, eloquently worded, philosophical answers. Especially since the answer is pretty simple.
I can answer the question of “Who am I?” with one word: nothing.
Nothing a judge sitting at a computer on the other side of the world for all I know, can simply read off a piece of paper. I, as a human being, cannot be transcribed to words. Words are descriptive and beautiful. They create whole worlds that lull in readers all over the globe to the point that a particular story is simply a part of their entire being. An author, armed with the correct storyline and plot, is the deadliest warrior of all – they can enter someone’s mind, draw up scenes and relationships that don’t even exist, and tear someone’s heart out with the death of a beloved character. JK Rowling, we will never forgive you - believe me and the rest of the Harry Potter fandom out there - for Fred’s death.
But these gut wrenching emotions these authors make us feel, how can they, when all these intricately woven stories are simply little black marks on stacks of paper, bound together with glue?
They are nothing. Not one person in this entire world could write themselves such a perfect essay describing who they are.
If someone asks me who I am, I’m going to say my name, and remind them of the peculiar spelling.
Someone is not going to remember me. They’ll meet me for a minute at my friend’s mother’s birthday party, politely say hello, then shuffle towards the larger crowd. Their eyes will skim over the top of my head, and they will pretend that they care that I go to school with their friend’s daughter. To them, I will not exist after the next two hours.
In that, we are all nothing. We will go to school, get the grades we may or may not deserve, try to break out of the goody-goody cocoon we have woven ourselves so tightly away in, make relationships with people. We will get jobs. We will work. We may even find someone to love and be loved by. But eventually, life will pass, and we will be sitting on our death beds with nothing left to say.
All this passes through my mind as I stare up at the shadowy ceiling of my pink-walled bedroom. The streetlamps outside flicker, and I vaguely remember a physics quiz tomorrow. I need to get good results, because results and end products are all that matter.
It is the same concept that permeates itself in the question of identity. In the end, we will be nothing, and so we are all nothing.
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