Since the day I was born, there has been a purple mirror in the corner of my room. While that mirror has done an adequate job displaying physical qualities, no glass mirror will ever be able to manifest the preponderance of idiosyncrasies that make each of us who we are. Reflections will always be ambiguous, which makes it so easy to forget that every person has an untold story.
For a very long time, I had no idea what this essay was going to be about. I have kept myself up at night pondering what the meaning of life may be and what my place is in this world. I read several “bildungsroman” books, in hopes that they would point me in the right direction, but I soon realized that I could not find my purpose if I did not know who I am. Friends and family have told me that I have my whole life to discover the meaning of it, but I was still so bothered by the fact that everyone around me seemed to have it all figured out. So I decided to re-read the journal I kept from grades 4 to 8, hoping that I could extract something noteworthy from that period of time. And still nothing. After this mild disappointment, I contemplated what a “story” is. What makes a person who they are? Is it one definitive moment, or a plethora of moments? Hoping to find the answer, I started writing in my old journal again, and putting that same purple pen to those same notebook pages felt nostalgically familiar. Writing has always been my safe haven. I have always expressed my feelings through some form of writing — journal entries, songs, poems, even tweets.
It was not until I closed my journal that I realized how important those pages are. The words I penned on those pages with my scratchy handwriting are the words that shaped me into who I am. They are the story I was striving to find, despite how trivial I believed them to be. Every person has an appreciable story, including the girl who struggled to realize her significance to the world.
In his novel Looking for Alaska, John Green writes, “If you take [her] genetic code and you add her life experiences and the relationships she had with people, and then you take the size and shape of her body, you do not get her. There is a part of her greater than the sum of her knowable parts.” Green was expressing the belief that even though Alaska passed away, she will always be more than just matter, more than just a person. This novel has taught me that having our own distinctive stories is what makes each of us greater than the sum of our quantifiable parts. A story is what makes a person more than a person, and the sloppy pages of my journal sparked the creation of my story.
The importance of communication is immeasurable. We have to go through life seeing the world through our own eyes and according to our own thought processes and interpretations. We can never escape this “self.” And yet, while we are ourselves, we can never truly see ourselves. When we do not know people well, we see the facets of their personalities that they choose to project, which may be different from the ones we choose to perceive. And by interacting with others, we are able to determine which aspects of ourselves are most salient, because they are reflected back to us like a mirror. We are mosaics of who we truly are and who we present ourselves to be. And even though this will never be visible in an ordinary mirror, communicating our stories enables us to create extraordinary mirrors by making our reflections clearer to those around us.