There are few people who wouldn’t like to sit down with a steaming cup of hot chocolate and settle in with friends and family to hear a good story. Perhaps those stragglers would be enticed to enter the circle if they knew that they were about to hear a tale about themselves. There is definitely something special about such a personal story-time! I will admit that I find great excitement in having past experiences recounted to me by my parents and other relatives. Some special moments from early childhood fall out of our memories like the hair off of our head; when these gaps in remembrance are filled it is almost magical.
We all believe that we know ourselves very well; after all, we each are the single key-holder to our conscience and deep thoughts. Yet, when someone shares with us a memory that they have of us, it practically seems like an out of body experience. We see ourselves in a unique manner that differs from the perception that others have of us. In fact, there have been times when my parents tell me about things that I did as a child and I have a hard time believing that they are actually talking about me. In my opinion, this is exciting because it gives our personality a whole other dimension that we never knew existed. I don’t think that this other “dimension” is made up or fallacious, rather an insight as to how our inside reflects outwards.
When I hear old stories about myself as child, I am most intrigued to find out whether or not my personality has changed over the years. The conclusion that I have come to is “no”: I seem to exhibit the same traits now that I did when I was in preschool. Maybe this isn’t the rule, but for most people who I have asked, it does seem to be a general trend. It doesn’t seem to be common to go from being Scrooge to a well-known Samaritan!
My investigation into the past has only been furthered by my tendency to keep and store every piece of writing that I have done since grade school. I love to write and I feel that I can accurately track my life “progress” by perusing old essays, articles, and even stories. It is a humbling experience to reread a paper from middle school (that you remember being so proud of!) and catch your grammatical errors.
To add a more specific anecdote, I recently found a journal of mine from my eighth grade English class, which I took about three years ago. I have to admit that I got a great laugh from it because while I saw the same Ariana between the pages, some of my thoughts and ideas were expectedly less mature than the ones that I hold now. My political views from then and now almost mirror each other (although I do realize that the scope of my knowledge has since widened) and I also had a strong interest in Buddhism that cropped up here and there.
One of my favorite entries that I found was a short story that I wrote on October 18, 2010. Told in first-person point of view, I, the main character, related to the audience the experience that I had when one day I woke up in the morning with a tail affixed to my backside. To make a short story even shorter, my unusual situation caused my mother to faint and for the police to send me to the circus because I was a “class five threat”. The tale (tail?) ended abruptly with my exclamation that it wasn’t very fair that I didn’t even get a phone call home before getting committed. I’m not sure what made me laugh harder: the fact that I wrote “fave” instead of “favorite” or that I could have probably come up with the same storyline if I wrote the story today.
My sense of humor definitely has not evolved much over the years. In a picture that I have from a Girl Scout ceremony in Kindergarten, all of the other little girls can be seen standing in line nicely: I chose to pop my hip and throw up some “peace” signs instead. Maybe a few choice people use their annual birthday wish to hope for an end to my bad jokes but I find it endearing that I have stayed true to myself. Even if I might have had a total physical transformation after leaving middle school, I see myself as the same person through and through. I still love to read and I am still dedicated to my school work. I still have my same quirks and I still have an undying crush on Ryan Sheckler.
Maybe the reason that we feel so detached when we are told stories about our child-selves is because when we are young, we are still discovering who we are. Just like we would change our dream-job as often as we would change our clothes, we needed to artificially change our interests to find our predestined fit.