Someone once told me that lined paper can be as special as the words on it. This kept coming back to me as I perused my classmates' identity vessels, and saw how they could turn simple objects like shoe boxes and jars into beautiful expressions of their identity. I think this project was a fascinating way to see how our individual identities impact our personal and social choices. The vessels do not encompass one’s whole identity, and how much information someone includes can show so much about them. Someone may have had a vessel with much less information, but they may have been too afraid to share personal details with classmates who were acquaintances, strangers, or even friends. Between individuals, some felt that their social and personal identities were very similar and chose a clear vessel. Others felt that there was a disconnect between their personal and social identity, and chose an opaque container. Nevertheless, I learned something new about each person after looking at their project. The vessels were aligned with what I have read about the concept of identity: we define ourselves by the groups we are a part of. Looking around, I saw sports teams, pride flags, religions, ethnicities, Taylor Swift fans, and more. Beverly Daniel Tatum writes how “integrating one’s past, present, and future into a cohesive, unified sense of self is a complex task that begins in adolescence and continues for a lifetime....” (Daniel Tatum 2). I wonder what emotions my peers and I will feel, looking back on this project. Will I be embarrassed and think myself naive for including an object or adjective, or will I feel nostalgic for this time in my life? I want to hear what Ms. Bowles thinks her high school self would have included. I remember her saying that she wanted to assure a former classmate who now works at BLS that she isn’t the same person as she was in high school- that she has changed. Even considering myself in sixie year, I feel embarrassed. What leads us to feel shame in these past versions of ourselves, despite the fact that everyone has lived through these experiences? Is it someone else's opinion?
I believe that we start the year with this project with the intention of promoting a good environment for discussion, not just as a filler icebreaker like the ones in many other classes. It's easy for me to see my teachers and classmates as one-dimensional, but when I saw my peers write “music is the only thing that keeps me sane”, or how they have felt like they were “only surviving, not living” at times, it gives me a feeling of connection and makes me more comfortable in the classroom.