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Introspective Paper

By , Green Bay, WI
I was born Shannon Patrick. My middle name depended on whether my mother was sober or not, but since she was never sober, it was mostly Cathalina. She looks like me, my mother does, and loves literature and art. Unfortunately fortunately, she loved alcohol more than she loved me. Tom, my biological father, is even more terrible, psychotic and abusive. When I was six years old, I was adopted alongside my biological brother, Robbie, was dropped headlong into a melting pot that today simmers with Polish, German, Irish, Native American and African American ingredients, and became Shannon Tristan Markiewicz. My middle is Australian, interestingly enough. I am proud of my family. But not of myself. It makes me uncomfortable to write this, to wonder what the reader will think as I open up and pour my soul/heart/mind out onto paper.
One reason for this is because socially, I am a fraud, a fake. I cannot handle many normal situations, like walking down the halls, entering classrooms, participating in discussions, drinking water, going to my locker—in short, I am always nervous, am nervous writing this. I hate myself and I have very few friends; thank God they are at least good ones, are at least supportive. Still, I often find myself being terribly ungrateful for them. I prefer to be alone, generally, reading/writing. I prefer to be around people who love me, too. I prefer to watch a movie with my mother, to laugh with my friends, to talk to my sister, to talk about literature with a teacher. Those are times when I am almost never nervous. My life is a lie. I smile when I want to cry, act nonchalant when my heart splits apart in fear, wear colorful clothes when, in the morning, I instinctively reach for black/blue. I am honest about very little, keeping many things a secret. I do not talk much about my past and how it affects me today, like how I become uncomfortable around other guys sometimes when they get too close to me. I was sexually abused by my birth father is why. I used to think this was okay, this pseudo self I presented to everyone, minus that fact that I have lied/attempted suicide/cut/wreaked destruction/created disaster. Minus the fact that no one was able to see that which I strove to hide: me.
Perhaps the only meritorious thing about me is that I am a good student. I am no more intelligent than anyone else my age, do not memorize answers for tests by osmosis, and find it difficult to follow Mr. Sievert’s rousing lectures on heterozygous plants, but I do work hard, and I love to read, which makes education attractive for me. I am a ravenous learner, a voracious reader, will rapaciously devour any piece of literature that crosses my path. Classics, textbooks, poetry, script—it does not matter to me, as long as it is full of words. For this reason, I view education not as a chore but as an opportunity. I cannot fathom life without daily learning, cannot comprehend what my existence would be if there was not a book to be found. I am a nerd, a bibliophile, a geek, and I view these terms as compliments, even when they are thrown at me with a sneering undertone, because there is nothing wrong with cultivating one’s intellectual faculties. Usually, I get along effortlessly and excellently with my teachers, might discuss Andy Warhol with Mr. Richardson or hand a poem to Mrs. Nickerson. I almost always get along the best with my English teachers, perhaps because we share a common passion, because we are both nerds and proud of it.
However, when education turn to politics, I become ignorant/disinterested/allergic. Despite the fact that I value knowledge, I shy away from anything that deals with elections/voting/campaigning, etc., an important part of all students’ education. Elections are no more than high-falutin popularity contests; I learned that in second grade, when a friend and I tried to convince our peers that we should be Class Ambassadors—we even made posters addressing the issues; longer recess, better lunch food and more snack time (we were ambitious eight-year-olds). A kid named Cody, however, won when he brought cookies for the class on Voting Day. it ruined me, and ever since then, I have despised organizations like Student Council, even P.T.O., because most people join those groups to be recognized, not to make important changes for the school and its community. I sound contradictory here, though. I supported Obama during campaign season, after all, not because I agreed with his platform (I had no idea what it even was), but because I believed it would be a positive experience for America—for my black siblings/family members, especially—to have a black President, would hopefully aid in disintegrating some of the lingering prejudice they face daily in predominately white Howard-Suamico/Green Bay/northern Wisconsin. Despite this, I did not really care who won, Obama or ancient McCain, because I figured that America was going to fall into a recession either way.

Obviously, I have morals, but I am quite sure almost each one of them has been broken; as a result, I do not know if my “morals” count or not. Being respectful to adults, for example, is one of the biggest I follow—especially towards parents and teachers. Yet, I have done insolent/discourteous/hurtful things to both. Another one is kindness, which I have broken by doing, as aforementioned, insolent/discourteous/hurtful things to parents/teachers/friends/siblings and the like. It is unkind to tell one’s mother one hates her, even during an argument, or to target an innocent teacher for one’s selfish purposes. I am deeply disappointed in myself with the realization that I have no real standard of ethics, perhaps a warped sense of right and wrong as a result. I need to figure out who I am, what I stand for, and follow through with those principles.

Sometimes, I look in the mirror and cringe when I think about how much I have changed. Other times, I smile. That which I have done in these past months, however, has caused that smile to fade; lately, it has vanished behind a frown. Good change: last year I became fully devoted to poetry. How that may be not-so-good: it takes me a while to switch between verse and prose, especially when writing essays, say, like this one. I simply cannot stand to omit figures/imagery, etc; it causes my writing to sound empty. Another good change: I quit fighting against my mother so much, finally broke down and changed the way I dressed, how I wore my make-up. Bad change: I became increasingly introverted, telling no one anything, confiding in my mother less and less, until that confidence disappeared completely. Another bad change: during freshman year, I developed a negative/pessimistic/depressing attitude, caused by I know not what, exactly. Caused by me. Why that is bad: I would prefer not to go there. How I need to change: I need to tell people more, cannot keep everything bottled inside, because the pressure has caused me to explode and the repercussions were/are disastrous. Also, I need to be more honest with myself/others, need to learn who I am as a person, need to become strong, need to learn to like myself. How I plan to change: frankly, I do not know.

However, what I do know is that I am a hypocrite. I expect the truth from others, though I rarely give it in return. I value kindness but am only cruel. I pity those with mental illness, yet I want no one to comment on my own. I expect forgiveness, but rarely can I manage an apology. I become annoyed with negative people, though I am myself never optimistic. I hate myself and I hurt them and I disappoint them, but I want them to like me anyway.

Rereading this essay, I cannot help but feel embarrassed/ashamed at what I read, at what I allow the readers to see. This assignment showed me how weak I am, how much I want to/need to hide from others. Here is a good moral, one I ought to harness: strength. And another: honesty. And another: self-respect. As I began penning my social self, a bout how I am a lie and everything I do is a lie, I masked the truth, did not want know many facts essential to the paragraph. A certain editor saw this, told me to be real. It was difficult, but I managed it—honesty did not strike me dead with lightning. I am still here. Later, this very same editor wrote me a beautiful aphorism at the end of a paragraph. It says: “There’s strength in honest truth and the facing of it.” I am still trying to figure out what it means, exactly, because with this paper I ripped myself open and examined the contents of myself, yet still I feel very weak. Perhaps I need more aphorisms. Perhaps I need others around me to help, for I cannot live this life alone. And I do want to live this life, because I have books to write and poems to read, and people to love before I sleep, and people to love before I sleep.





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Sarah said...
Jun. 3, 2014 at 9:17 pm
I absolutely adore this essay! You and I are in fact, extremely similar. I am a young black lady that just moved into the howard-suamico area and its rough. I have to write an introspective essay soon and you helped me understand what exactly i need to say,and how deep i should go. Thank you so much, and remember, you are NEVER alone!
 
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