Friday, December 19, 2008

A Self-Centered Post

Reading LenoxKnits' spectacular post about all the things she loves about life reminded me of a piece I assign my creative writing classes. I tell them to compose something totally positive about themselves, to create a time-capsule of who they are, what they stand for, and what "little things" matter to them.We call it a "Statement of Self" and the assignment was inspired by Sharon Flake's book The Skin I'm In, wherein the main character decides, "who you are is all you've got."
It takes very little encouragement for kids to take this assignment seriously, although all of us have trouble eliminating negativity and focussing on boasts. Former students I encounter often say, "I still have that thing I wrote all about me," and I tell them that's exactly what I hope for.
One tenet of my creative writing instruction is to always complete and share the same assignments as my students because I want my students to see me as a practitioner who understands how difficult it is to share writing with others. To this end, I also refrain from scoring their assignments beyond complete or incomplete, though I provide feedback and develop a written dialog about writing progress with each student.

Enough about my philosophy of education. Here is the statement of self...and no, the kids didn't see the version with photos.

Who I Am and What I Believe

(It’s Good to Be Me)

  • I am informed, educated, opinionated and stubborn.
  • I am reluctant to trust.
  • When people say nice things about me, I suspect insincerity.
  • Ignorance, intolerance, and lies anger me.
  • I am fiercely independent. I despise feeling helpless or relying on others, yet the mere suggestion of life without my husband is emotionally crippling.

  • I love tattoos, but tire of incorrect assumptions made because of my ink.
  • It may not be realistic, but I believe I could survive most anything. I have the will, the knowledge, and a great deal of stamina.
  • I am well-acquainted with depression, but have neve r felt a desire to die. I can’t imagine ever being ready for life to end.
  • I resent and mistrust obligatory gift-giving. It would be meaningful and preferable if gifts were given spontaneously and from the heart rather than on designated da tes.
  • A gourmet meal with close friends and meaningful conversation…such are the best nights of life. I’m a slow-foodie and a locavore whenever possible.

  • I enjoy solitude. Going solo to a movie, out to eat, or away for a day is refreshing. It’s good to get away and miss (appreciate) the people you love.
  • I do not understand how anyone can’t cook. It’s just following directions.
  • I used to fear settling down and never wanted more than a backpack of essentials. My perspective has changed. Home is not an albatross .

  • My greatest hope for my child is that he will grow into a kind, empathetic person.
  • I can be a cold-hearted person. I have cut people —even relatives--out of my life, and I would do it again. People treat me right, or they don’t deserve my company.
  • I never forget how someone has treated me.
  • I love being outdoors: gardening, building things, cycling, hiking, and primitive camping.
  • I’m very concerned with doing the right thing. Ethics, equity and justice matter.
  • Hypocrisy infuriates me.
  • I refuse to let fear make my decisions.
  • I fear regret.
  • Live music is one of the best pleasures of life.
  • I love knowledge. Documentary films, thorough and un-biased news reporting, and “how to” DIY instruction are building blocks I can play with.
  • I define love as when another person's well-being is essential to your own.
  • Parenthood has taught me more than any other experience, book, or class.
  • Manners matter. I can cuss like a prisoner, but I have only cursed at someone once. I still feel guilty about that loss of control. Words are permanent, even if the emotions behind them are not.
  • I believe in the power of words and the ideas they represent. Words can, and do, change lives.
  • I read and read and read and read.
  • Thinking before speaking continues to be the toughest, most frequent and important challenge I face.

  • I believe it is wrong to raise ones voice or fist in anger. Violence begets violence. Authentic love cannot bear to cause pain, and that sort of pain should never be endured.
  • I believe everyone should know how to drive a stick shift and navigate by a map and compass.
  • I believe anyone can change if they truly want to. It’s just easier to make excuses.
  • I believe that once obtained, power is nearly always abused.
  • I believe that America could be a much better place.
  • I am one tough cookie; a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
  • Maybe I think too highly of myself.
  • I made my life the way it is and I like it. Whenever I don’t, it’s up to me to change it.


  1. I knew I liked you!

    Love the is absolutely beautiful.

    *note to self: relearn driving stick shift; learn how to read compass*

  2. Wow. This is seriously powerful. I instinctively knew most of this about you but I definitely learned a few things. You are probably the strongest person I've ever known and that does sometimes scare me.