Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

You are here

What Determines Identity

wwu2's picture


What’s your identity? This question always lingers in my head. During each time period, you are placed into different positions by different people. Not until you go to work and become self-sufficient,those people who are called adults, and the surroundings will keep imposing you their understandings of life. So where suits you the best? Is that the one others choose for you, or the one you crave for but other is against?

When I was a childish little girl, I identified the meaning of my life is with TV shows, cartoons, romantic novels. Well, on the other hand, my mom wanted me to embrace a wide range of  “hobbies”— forced me to learn the piano, painting, theater, dance, etc. Certainly, I do not want to push myself to a highly stressed end, so I started to revolt, playing hide and seek with her. Every time as soon as my mother left home, I immediately leaped off the piano, turned on the TV, and devouringly enjoyed every second of my happiest moment but still observed the noise outside at the same time. Once I vigilantly heard a key faintly twisting the lock, I instantly turned off the sound TV, covered my “criminal trials”, rushed back to the piano and pretended that I had been playing it so diligently. At that time, I was pleased and satisfied; however, nowadays, recalling my childhood, I feel regretful: if I have listened to my mom and followed all her guidelines, I should have gone towards a better direction, and have made more accomplishment. But stupid as me do not know how to place my identity, and have wasted numerous time and youth.

Time flew by. When I raised to high school, I had more ideas of who I am and what I want to do even though, in my mom’s mind, I was still the six-year-old naughty girl, who needs her to worry about everything. But No! I was not that any more! I knew exactly what I want to do. I wanted to study abroad. I wanted to inspect the world in an utmost scope. I was too stressful to be restrained by my mom. I did not want to stay in a dreadful studying environment where everyone competed with each other so fiercely, harshly. I can not breath here! However, my mom regarded my determination as an excuse of running away from competitions. I knew she understood me wrong, so I talked, argued, insisted with her countless times. And finally I was permitted to fly through 11660 kilometer from China to USA, a place full of freedom and opportunities, to study. This is my first success of me stepping up and fighting for my identity.

Undoubtedly, there would be ups and downs throughout my time in Vermont. At first, I was too shy and barely had the courage to speak English in front of people, so I isolated myself only talking with Chinese. Americans thought I did not want to talk with them, but I was comfortable with that: “less talking, fewer troubles”, I thought. However, the more time I spent in the U.S., the more I questioned myself, “ If I continue speaking Chinese, what’s the point of studying abroad? Don’t I want to get better in English?” After all, I understood no matter how embarrassed I felt when talking, it wouldn’t be more embarrassed than I quit something that I never even tried; therefore, I started to change, participated in more extracurricular activities, and became more outgoing girl. Look where I am now, in Bryn Mawr!

If I can draw a timeline, my life is a gradually growing-up process: from a dependent, juvenile, reckless girl to a independent, mature, careful teenager. Throughout times, identity shifts. Inearly ages, children may need parents’ assistance to lead them to the right direction. But as we grow older and older, we are the one who are responsible for ourselves. We know what is good, and what is wrong for us. We are the dominator of our own lives. Coming to Bryn Mawr has proved that my three-year studying in the U.S is worthy. There are so many opportunities here. However, coming to this community, I am with confusion and not certain what I will doin the furture. But there’s one thing I am assured: as the time goes, I find my new identity.