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Who Am I?

sasha's picture

Pierce Jones: You wanna know something? You just made me realize how selfish I am, just because you’re so unselfish.

Me: What do you mean?

Pierce Jones: Whatever you just said made me realize that you constantly think/care about these big systematic issues, while I’m over here thinking about what next pair of shoes I will buy


This is part of a longer conversation I had with a coworker over the summer, although I cannot recall what exactly the conversation was about, I do remember these words. Him pointing out how unselfish I am did not really come as a surprise, what did surprise me though, was how by me having a simple ‘everyday’ conversation, I said something that made him reflect on his own identity. Trying to answer the “who are you?” question makes me think of all the different aspects of my life and how I can change depending on where I am, because of where I come from I find myself code-switching all the time.  In order for me to answer these questions I have to think of what remains constant regardless of where I physically stand (in response to the question of how have I come to see/know my identity), and what never really changes are my values/passions and beliefs. I value the importance of education, social justice and empowerment. I believe that education is the key to social change and social justice and this can be initiated by empowering the community. By empowerment I am not referring to the typical idea of doing ‘services to teach basic life skills to the “less fortunate”, “at risk”, “underserved” populations’. By empowerment I am referring to the act of simply helping people, anyone, to simply realize all the power and skills they already have and to provide access for them to put their abilities into practice.

A huge part of my identity can be found in the work that I do and how it becomes apart of me. Over the summer I did an extreme (almost inhumane) amount of overtime for my summer job, but I was not paid a cent for it; I was told I could not get paid more than 20 hours a week. When my boss (one of the most amazing, honorable man I have ever met!) found out how much time I was putting into the work, he offered to pay me for it, and I respectfully declined. A huge part of my identity is that I do not know how to compartmentalize my life. I become my work. When I truly care for something, I give it my all … literally … I use the term work for lack of a better one. Pierce Jones once asked me, “why do you work so much if you know you’re not going to get paid for it?” When I was asked this question, I did not know how to answer. I struggle explaining how the idea of making sure kids have what they need, and the idea of simply having to do things regardless of the money is just a belief that is imbedded in me. Maybe I feel this way because I am still in college and it is not a permanent responsibility in a way, but it is the best way I can explain my current identity.