This I Believe

Lisa - Moraga, California
Entered on December 6, 2006

Self-Preservation

Charles Darwin taught us the natural instinct of self-preservation, meaning both a species and an individual work foremost to survive. Yet, Darwin saw only half of the issue plaguing humanity, applying the principle only to physical survival. Today, for us, the goal is not merely to physically exist, but also to socially exist. I believe it is the social self — the identity consisting of personality, interests and history — that now must be preserved.

I am not preaching the struggles I went through to discover my identity. My self was explored in childhood. I realized, as many children do, who I was and who I wanted to be. Many dreamed of being firemen, astronauts, ballerinas and cowboys, I believed in politics. I thought government was beautiful, and diplomacy wonderful; although, I am fairly sure I did not know the definition of the word. As I found one interest I began to search for more, eventually learning that my self is a politics-obsessed, Israeli-Irish, highly anxious, naive, and conscientious person.

Adolescence was a stressful stage, filled with bizarre hormones in addition to the social pressures. I was lost. All my childhood, every identity was embraced, and now only certain ones were acceptable. Now we learned practicality. No longer did we dream of big things, of bursting into a burning building, landing on Mars, being in the Nutcracker, roping cattle, or becoming Congressmen. Instead, the dreams became to go to college, a great college, and finding a job with nice benefits.

Then, I decided that my self was crucial. I could not abandon my passions. I struggled, yet managed to develop these parts of my self further. For my interest in current events, I found classes that were devoted to the topic. My class schedule is packed with every possible relation to politics: history, English, I even find the most applicable science. There I realized the abundance of peers with similar interests and found many friendships within this group. I begin debates with almost everyone over any issue that comes to mind, while driving my parents to insanity; I have improved my relationships with friends. To address my fascination with my parents’ differing cultures, I traveled to Israel and Ireland to learn about my family, the history, and the current state. While my family wanted to visit family, I wanted to also take in the sights. I dragged them on tours of the countries and continue to follow the political developments from home. My latest dream is to become the Ambassador to Ireland; although, I still have qualms over all the rain.

I realize that I was lucky. I wonder; if I had decided I was an astronaut at heart, would I still be that same person today? But I feel that no matter if life’s lessons teach us that our original identity proposal was not possible; in the back of our minds will always be what we believed as children and that identity can not be ignored.