People person

Story by Hanna Bae

Title: People person

It’s college app season, and as much as I want to continue to put it off, I can’t. I would be lying if I said that I have no idea of what I want to write about in my personal essays or that I’m lost and don’t know where to start. I do know what I want to write about. I do know how I want to sell myself. But I don’t think it’ll ever be enough, and I don’t know if that’s truly me. 

Call it what you will (maybe it’s imposter syndrome), but I constantly feel like, well exactly that: an imposter. There’s a certain innate expectation to live up to my name and how people perceive me. But the more boxes I check off, the more short answer questions I jot down, the more supplemental essays I write, the more I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb.

I thought I had fully found my people. My sophomore year, I wrote a component for a center spread on friendships, marveling at how I had been in a solid trio for the past 7 years and didn’t see that changing any time soon. Looking back, I may have been the odd one out. My friendship dynamics were constantly fluid from sophomore year to senior year. I’m in a completely different circle two years later, and if I’m being completely honest, I wouldn’t change a thing about everything that’s happened since that center spread.

None of it was malice. Yes, I’ve been hurt, but I don’t think there was ever an intention to hurt. There’s an expectation, especially in a community like South Pasadena, to have a “group.” To fit into a “group.” That’s where my dilemma stands. There’s never been an instance where I was without a group, but in every single group, it felt like I stuck out. My profile didn’t really fit into the profile of the rest of the group. Everyone had their “person.” But even at my best, if I had a person, it felt like I wasn’t theirs. 

I feel that at this point I must acknowledge that I have absolutely incredible people in my life, and my personal feelings regarding my sore-thumbness is not at all a testament to how these people have treated me. But this sense of fragility stems from the fact that my friendships have drastically shifted throughout high school. This sense of constant change and fluidity the past four years has in a way completely overwhelmed me as I find it difficult to believe that other people care about me as a person and not as a convenience.

Perhaps my fatal flaw is that I put what other people think on a pedestal. But in a way, isn’t that what my sense of self is? I’ll never be able to grasp who I truly am, especially because that sense of self is purely internal. My sense of self is built off of my impressions of the way that people act around me and how, in turn, I act around them. 

I’ve grappled with who I am for quite some time, and I like to say that, ultimately, I’m a people person. I used to be the mom, the fun one, the academic weapon, and everything in between. But if there’s anything that’s remained constant, it’s that I’m a people person. Especially with Thanksgiving fast approaching, I reassure myself with gratitude. I have friends who trust me, family who support me, and myself, who turns to all of these people as a people person.

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