this assignment, to choose ten books/songs/poems/movies that chronicle my life and personality, was fun and challenging at the same time. part of the instruction was to be careful to choose media that actually reflect me, not just ones that are my favorites, and i was determined to do that at first. but the ones i chose– 4 songs, 4 books, 2 movies– ended up coming right back to my favorites anyway. i realized that the very thing that makes these my favorites is the same reason i chose them for the assignment: in each one, i connect with the author or a character in a way that makes me feel understood.
When I was about eleven, I picked up this book and knew immediately that I was dealing with someone very much like myself. It tells the story of a girl with a vivid imagination who was known for believing in the very things she dreamed up. As a kid, that description would’ve pretty much summed up everything about me. If I could imagine something, it was true. Animals could talk. Magic was real. Even inanimate objects had personalities. Strangest of all, between the ages of four and six, I actually thought I was a dog.
To be honest, I’m surprised my parents never considered committing me to a psychiatric ward…
(Movie, Animated. 1953)
Throughout my life, growing up was something I always thought would never really happen. It happens to everyone else—sure. But will it happen to me? Never! Like the legendary Peter Pan, I wanted to remain a kid forever. To me, the realm of adulthood was frightening and enigmatic—not something to be desired.
I think I was around the age of twelve when I realized that growing old was inevitable. But at the same time, I also realized that growing up was optional. So I made a promise to myself. I promised myself that matter how old I got—twenty… forty-five… ninety—I would never forget what it was like to be a kid. I would always keep the “child inside me” alive and kicking. At heart, I will always be free and childlike.
This song is always a reminder to me that I’ve messed up; I’m a sinful, selfish, wretched human being, and I have no one to blame but myself. But, as the song states, I want to spend the rest of my life alive—not in death and decay. And I don’t have to lock my soul in a cage; by sacrificing His life for mine, Jesus gives me the daily chance to wipe the slate clean. I have made a mess of me, but He has made a saint of me.
I’ve made a mess of me
I wanna get back the rest of me
I’ve made a mess of me
I wanna spend the rest of my life alive
This trilogy in and of itself has played a huge part in my teenage years. I’ve read the books four times, watched the movies a dozen times, and you could probably say that I’m mildly obsessed with Middle Earth (my parents joke that I would go to hobbit college. It’s true.). But some of the themes present in these books also reflect themes in my life. For me, one of the most meaningful parts of the story is the example of friendship. As I get older, I realize more and more how truly blessed I have been in the way of friends. Godly, loyal, mature, always there for me, and just plain fun, my friends have helped shape me into the person I am today.
“You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin—to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours—closer than you yourself keep it. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo.”
A collection of poems and drawings by Shel Silverstein, this book reflects one hugely major part of my life: humor. I am almost constantly laughing or making people laugh. Like Silverstein’s poems, my humor is sometimes outright hilarious, sometimes silly and pointless, and oftentimes sarcastic. It was once said of me that ninety-nine percent of all the words I speak are sarcastic—which is not true, of course. It couldn’t be more than ninety-five percent. But seriously, I’m kidding.
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.— Proverbs 17:22
One lesson that I’ve been learning, particularly in this last year, is that no person and no circumstance can control who I am. No matter if I am being judged, feeling alone, or going through some kind of trial—God will always give me the strength to rise above it. I think I’ve always been something of a rebel, but lately I’ve been discovering how true it is that no one can tell me how to live my life. I will never let another tell my soul what to fear.
Just because you’re running doesn’t mean that you’re scared.
Just because it’s law don’t mean that it’s fair.
Never let another tell your soul what to fear.
I get so sick of it,
It feels so counterfeit.
I rise above it.
This reflection is actually a paradox, because my personality is, in a way, the exact opposite of Bilbo Baggins’ personality. While he would have preferred staying home with his comfy chairs, I would rather seek out excitement and adventure. But both Bilbo and I had (and I still have) the same lesson to learn: what we most desire is not always what is best for us. Gandalf pushed Bilbo out the door to an adventure that would change his life. Likewise, sometimes when I can only see how a life-changing adventure could bring good things, God simply says, “No.”
Oftentimes, immediately after disappointment I can see how it was for the best. Sometimes, however, it takes months or even years. There may even be some things I will never fully understand in this life.
“Sorry! I don’t want any adventures, thank you. Not today. Good morning! But please come to tea—anytime you like. Why not tomorrow? Come tomorrow! Good-bye!” With that the hobbit turned and scuttled inside his round green door, and shut it as quickly as he dared, not to seem rude. Wizards after all are wizards.
The very title of this movie pretty much says it all. Like Mattie Ross, a fourteen-year-old girl bent on bringing justice to her father’s killer, I am stubborn, rugged, and outspoken. Although I’ve never formed a posse, I often take on challenges that no one expects, and I don’t let anything—fear, pain, doubt—get in my way.
“Most girls like to play pretties, but you like guns do you?”
Mattie Ross: “I do not care a thing in the world about guns. If I did, I would have one that worked.”
Let’s cut to the chase: sometimes I feel lonely. Clung to by insecurity. Followed by fear. Haunted by depression. When I go through times like that, this is always my go-to song. Adam Young (Owl City) so perfectly and beautifully articulates what it feels like to experience such uncertainty. But then he reminds me that “I’ve found a new Hope from above,” a Hope that transcends all fear and doubt. A Hope that will never let me down.
It hurts just to wake up whenever you’re wearing thin.
Alone on the outside, so tired of looking in.
The end is uncertain, and I’ve never been so afraid,
But I don’t need a telescope to see that there’s Hope,
And that makes me feel brave.
If I could have one thing said of me after I’m gone, I would want it to be said that I was on fire. I don’t want to be a lukewarm Christian; I want to be someone who makes a change—someone who was different. Someone who, like the girl in the song, leaves people burning with an unquenchable hunger for salvation.
Salvation is a fire in the midnight of the soul,
It lights up like a can of gasoline.
Yeah, she’s a freedom fighter, she’s a stand-up kind of girl.
She’s out to start a fire in a bar-code plastic world.