This essay was submitted as part of my applications to undergraduate colleges. I recently re-discovered it and, overjoyed that I found something I thought lost forever, decided to post it to the website.
Ambling toward my room, I am suddenly faced with a French movie poster and a Chinese map. With a start I realize that my door is shut and quickly open it to the beige-pink room beyond.
Books litter the ground, among them a used copy of Apollinaire’s poetry and a much-read paperback, Catcher in the Rye. Simplified Fiddler on the Roof piano music peeks over the bureau as the radio hums Simon and Garfunkel‘s “Scarborough Fair“. Shoved next to Joyce’s Dubliners is my video camera, which with I recently filmed a home version of the classic Napoleon Dynamite, using my more-than-accommodating sisters as actors. On top of the bookshelf, a battered book entitled 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die lies open to the page describing the notorious Psycho.
A Chinese textbook that I signed out for the year lies open in the middle of the room, since I cannot take the actual class. Because of scheduling difficulties, I reluctantly chose to take Chemistry instead, and like a shame-faced brat my science textbook hides guiltily underneath the scarf I have been knitting. My favorite family photograph stands on the bureau near a social psychology textbook. Tapping my fingers on the night-stand, I scrutinize the picture.
Mother and father divorced long ago. Like the Big Bang, this separation caused reverberations that, though they grow fainter, still echo through the house daily. Despite this, they must have married because they originally shared dreams that they wanted to make true. My mother imagined a life devoted to assisting others, thus becoming a nurse at Boston Medical Center, while my father used his mathematical skills to design safety systems for nuclear power plants. All of us dreamers constantly chafe against thousands of others who have plans like us; we do not come away unmarked. My room is a reflection of forces that have helped to shape what is important to me.
Skimming through the textbook, I recall that social psychology studies the interactions between people. The divorce of my parents is just one of those many forces that have contributed to who I am. When faced with such blunt questions as “Who are you?”, I am flabbergasted. The character of a person is not static, but a stirring, volatile blend, pulled every which way by external stimuli and internal pressures. How could I begin to describe the entirety of who I am?
Watching a spider tap dance across the ceiling, I suddenly realize that I am a sort of chemical reaction; I start out as one thing and am transformed by various encounters with others of a different makeup than I.
“Why are you so crazy about chemistry?” my friends ask. “It’s not like you to choose science over Chinese!”
Chemical compound, amateur psychologist, language investigator, whatever I am, I am a social being above all else. Therefore, when events happen, I react. It’s simple.