Personal Narrative: My Death
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We went to see a movie one Friday afternoon. It was spring; there was no snow on the ground, but I was still cold. One wrong word, one misstep, and we were liable to tumble into the vast unknown. I was freezing. We sat in the car a while after the movie. The late day sun fell through the windshield, striking her skin and bathing it in white-wine light, and she was radiant. An old ballad filtered through the speakers, a fifties star singing about a woman in a velvet voice existing in stark dichotomy to what was happening between us. With those juvenile words everyone longs to hear in their melodramatic adolescence, when they are an insecure, doe-eyed high-school student, we fell.
She whispered it like one would whisper a secret under the cover of darkness, tenebrous night making the speaker confident. The words fell heavy onto my ears, the weight of their implication pressing onto my chest, combining with the ice in my body, stealing the air from my lungs. What would my parents say? We sat in silence, listening to that balladeer croon about being rejected once again.
I got out of her car after the song finished and went home. Her vulnerability that day was a double-edged sword, and we both ended up bloody. Leaving her words unacknowledged felt like leaving an open wound to fester. Neither of us, however, were willing to speak. We acted like nothing had happened at all, making snide remarks about everyday happenings, gossiping innocently about school goings-on. But, it was a kind of breathless normalcy — we were just waiting, waiting for a time when we were old enough, brave enough, to meet her confession head-on. If she were a boy, I might have kissed her that spring Friday in her car. My hands might have been warm as I drove home. The familiar smell of garlic, soy sauce, and onion permeated through the air as I opened my lunch bag to see what my mom had packed for me.
But not today, the day a nice girl had invited me, the new girl at school, to sit with her friends during lunch. As I prepared to walk over to the table, memories of elementary and middle school lunch times resurfaced. I remembered my embarrassment as my friends would hold their noses, or not-so-subtly scoot away from me when I brought homemade Korean food. I remembered how my embarrassment shifted to anger when I complained about the smell to my mom. But I was adamant and she relented because she worried about my making new friends every time we moved.
So for the remainder of middle school, my mom packed odorless, non-Korean fare like ham and cheese sandwiches. However, that day, she was in a rush to get to her new job and packed me leftovers from dinner. As soon as I got to my new lunch table, I tried to sneak my bright lunch bag down under my seat before anyone noticed the strong smell. I looked up to see the other girls at the table, opening their normal American lunches. I sat meekly, trying not to be noticed when Katrina, a new acquaintance, asked where my food was. The moment I partially lifted the lid, I could practically taste the garlic and soy sauce. The girls, piqued by the smell wafting through the air, all curiously peered at the oval-shaped Pyrex container.
I expected them to turn away — and turn me away. What I did not expect was for Katrina to instantly grab a small piece of tofu and eat it ravenously. And I most certainly did not expect for her to encourage the rest of the table to try my lunch. It took me a second to recognize that my foreign, Korean food was not being rejected; in fact, it had become a source of personal pride. My new friends were going on about how lucky I was that my mom took the time to prepare a cooked meal for me. They were enchanted by the fact that tofu could actually taste good.
When I arrived home, my mom asked how my day went. When I turned 16, I cut off all my hair. Those long, spiraling locks whose crispy ends fell to my hips represented the days when I hid my face behind a curtain of curls, the days when I had social anxiety how embarrassing! My cosmetic transformation proved to be a righteous decision. I arrived at school a changed woman, and that day, the heavens split wide open as an angelic chorus descended from swirling clouds and God Himself smiled on me with the warmth of a thousand suns.
I immediately understood this boy to be The One. He flirted with me more than he flirted with other girls, and sometimes even looked at me while I spoke. I wrote him love letters in the form of homework questions that could easily have been answered by any sentient rock, and my affections were reciprocated in late night Snapchats of his forehead, or, if he was being particularly bold, his forehead and one eye.
Our playful back-and-forth persisted in this manner and maybe even developed into a friendship. Ultimately, I learned that if you ruin your sleep schedule in order to text a boy at night for 10 solid months, he may just ask you out. In the shimmering light of the summer evening sky, I ate a few bites of overpriced ramen across a tiny table from a real live guy who had actually asked me out on a date. When he reached for the bill to signify that it was, in fact, a date, his hand briefly grazed mine, and I felt my cheeks flush with the distinct rosy tinge of heteronormativity.
As we left the restaurant, it began to rain, and we took refuge in an ice cream shop where he once more paid for me to pretend to eat while dutifully sucking in my stomach. Summoning all my skills of seduction, I flaunted sophistication in my sultriest tone:. Whether the unease in my gut stemmed from this disappointing departure or my severe IBS, I could never know. But one thing was for sure — I had done everything right. A true gentleman, he ended things a few weeks later in a two-sentence Snapchat. In a response riddled with exclamation points, I let my concern for his feelings eclipse my own. Painfully embarrassed, I dismissed myself as idiotic for believing a boy could ever like me.
I knew I was to blame for equating the slightest amount of male approval with the highest standard of human decency. Stuck between guilt and confusion, I once again took scissors to the braid that reached halfway down my back. A PDF of all the winners and 95 more great narratives that made it to Round 4. Thank you to all of our contest judges! Hutchinson prompted. Wryly, I smiled back. Everyone in my family is Christian, all of them having grown up in the church, typically Nazarene. My entire family is made of Caucasian, native English speakers. Because of that, most of my friends are also native English speakers and all Christian.
There are also many life experiences that have affected my personal culture. Culture is important because it allows people to maintain a unique identity society. Many cultures have common interests, while others may have customs that differ greatly from that of another. Technology has had a huge impact on present day cultures. Many culture have been altered including my own, and some have been created due to the rise of technology.
Cultures differ so greatly that someone belonging to one culture may not agree with the values of another, which then causes social and ethical issues. My culture shares many similarities with others around the world; most of which have connected more people in recent years than ever before. Cultural gaps, and lack of …show more content… In the past, things were primarily about skin color, and issues regarding people of a particular skin color were handled by such, and not ethnicity. Black people were black people, whites were whites, and so on. The point is that by distinguishing myself from a general role, I am able to have my own identity, and I can make choices for my best interest, and not for the majority.
In spite of their differences, both African and African-American culture have been able to connect in certain ways in recent years, as well as other cultures. Technology, specifically social media has allowed my generation to connect with one another even with our cultural differences. We can now find out what we want from whomever we want. Today, people in the United States can interact and communicate with people from anywhere around the world. I listened to some weird electronic music from France one night and it is amazing that I can do that. The internet has. Get Access. People contain multitudes, and by multitudes, I mean libraries. Someone might have an overarching narrative for her whole life, and different narratives for different realms of her life—career, romance, family, faith.
She might have narratives within each realm that intersect, diverge, or contradict each other, all of them filled with the microstories of specific events. It can be like James Joyce out there. If you really like James Joyce, it might be a lot like James Joyce. People take the stories that surround them—fictional tales, news articles, apocryphal family anecdotes—then identify with them and borrow from them while fashioning their own self-conceptions.
The ability to create a life narrative takes a little while to come online—the development process gives priority to things like walking, talking, and object permanence. I have a child who can really take an hour to tell you about Minecraft. These include causal coherence—the ability to describe how one event led to another—and thematic coherence—the ability to identify overarching values and motifs that recur throughout the story.
In a study analyzing the life stories of 8-, , , and year-olds, these kinds of coherence were found to increase with age. As the life story enters its last chapters, it may become more set in stone. In one study by McLean , older adults had more thematic coherence, and told more stories about stability, while young adults tended to tell more stories about change. McAdams conceives of this development as the layering of three aspects of the self. This developmental trajectory could also explain why people enjoy different types of fictional stories at different ages.
And we read it recently in the club, and whoa, is it fabulous. Things are lost on 8-year-olds that a year-old picks up, and things that an 8-year-old found compelling and interesting will just bore a year-old to tears sometimes. And like personal taste in books or movies, the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves are influenced by more than just, well, ourselves. The way people recount experiences to others seems to shape the way they end up remembering those events.
One is that people tailor the stories they tell to their audiences and the context. Much less crying. The other is that the act of telling is a rehearsal of the story, Pasupathi says. So the things I tell you become more accessible to me and more memorable to me. Those can be pretty lasting effects. But just as there are consequences to telling, there are consequences to not telling. The path from outside to inside and back out is winding, dark, and full of switchbacks.
Once certain stories get embedded into the culture, they become master narratives—blueprints for people to follow when structuring their own stories, for better or worse.