"'Who am I?'"

"You are what you say you are, not what other people think you should be." This is what one of the moderators of a site that I love said. 

This is true. A lot of people judge me from the first glance; I'm short, timid and love books. People have that impression of me in their heads. After all, that's what I seem like from far away. But when people get to know me more and I open up, they find a lot more about my personality and I. Behind that cloak of shyness, there lies a girl who is adventurous, outgoing, lover of the arts and sports, and someone who is a bit of a tomboy.

Some people will look at me and be all like, "What? No, you're quiet. You're short. That's who you are." Some won't even talk to me just because they judge me of at a glance. And that's one of the things that I strongly despise (hate is a strong word). 

Though I do have a general idea about who I am, I still don't know who I am. I know, my name is Abigail, and I'm a school girl with aspiring dreams to become a full-published author, that sort of stuff. But I'm talking about the deeper meaning. When I was younger, I believed that once we turned thirteen, then who we are at that age and how we act will stick like that for the rest of our lives. That fact turns out to be not true.

When I read The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot for the first time when I was eleven, there was this word that always struck fancy in my head: "self-actualization." Fancy word, I thought. Until a couple weeks ago, when I broke down the word into pieces, did I realize what it meant. "Self", obviously, means yourself, you.  The suffix "-tion" means the action, or result, of doing something, leaving it with the root, "actual".  So, when you look at the entire meaning, it means, "To develop or achieve one's full potential."

In other words, it means finding the answer to the very same question that we all ask ourselves and that my main character, Addie, for one of my novels, says:

"Who am I?"

It's the age old question, isn't it? In my novel, it takes Addie quite awhile to realize who she is—and yet she is only thirteen. In the book Formerly Shark Girl, by Kelly Bingham, the main character, Jane Arrowood, does, in a way, tries to find out who she is and make the big decisions for college and her life ahead of her. It takes her about a year.

For some, finding out who they are is quite easy. Some, it only takes about a month or an entire summer break. Others take a year or longer. Whatever the case is, it is a long process, and the answer does not come that easily.

So how exactly do we know who we are, when we know who we are? How do we, as the song "Some Nights" by Fun says, find out "what do I stand for?" Does it come like a wave over us? Do we say, "Oh, I am this, and that, and that, and that, ex certa, ex certa"? Where do we look or what shows who we are? I'll give you a hint: it is happening at this very moment, at this very second. Yup, this is happening live even while you're reading this.

It's our life. I bet you're all looking at me as if I am crazy, thinking, "What? How can my life—I'm talking about my life here—tells who I am?" 

The reason is quite simple. Let's take up all our personality. Then, let's take up our experiences, our behavior, our reactions, our memories, our dreams and goals and dislikes. Even the little things, some that seem unimportant, shape us, like if we like cheese or love Polaroids. Mash them together, and there! Our outcome ends up as ourselves. All of these things shape us into who we are.

 Next time, when you have a writing prompt with the question "Who am I?" or run along someone who asks the question, what would you say? Would you say, "I'm a comedian," or say, "My name is Dawn"? All of these may be true. There is one answer, though, and this may be biased on my part, that is the best to reply.

The best answer to this question is very simple, but many may not say this as their first answer.

"I am, first and foremost, myself."