Flowers and butterflies

Five Identities

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Five Oakland University students describe their identities in six words. Below are their six-word stories, along with short reflections on the experience of doing the activity in a journalism class in Winter 2019.

Tolerant. Empathetic. Comfort. Open-minded. Feminist. Loyal.

It is quite challenging to define yourself in just three short minutes. To be frank, I don’t really think I know exactly who I am. Without getting too personal, I went through a time almost six months ago that really messed with my self-identity. The Event caused me to question many aspects of my life, including my major. Within the last three months, I went from being a social work major to a journalism major; a major that is an extraordinarily scary leap for me. I have transferred schools and may change my current occupation soon. I have gone from having my whole world revolve around one person, to having to think about myself. Until recently, I did not like myself. The experience that I have gone through has forced me to be introspective and to learn that the one person who will always be there for me, who will always look after me, and guide me when I am lost, is me. – T.M.

Christian who loves family and freedom.

I do not really think about myself often, so this experience was interesting. I have a hard time sharing about who I am with other people, but this was not as bad as I thought it would be. Thinking about who I am and writing them down are two completely different things and I think I should do it more often. This is how I know who I am. I hope that others will learn to see me that way as well. – R.R.

Feminist. Creative. A rose in a world of lilies. Independent. Hard working. Caring.

I choose these six words as a good representation of my personality because I [have] always seen myself as being a strong believer that women and men should have equal rights. I am very creative when it comes to fashion and art. A rose in a world of lilies because I try to be different and unique from everyone else. Independent because I don’t like getting help from other people. Hard working because I work hard towards anything I want in life. And lastly caring because I like to be the person who gives sympathy and advice when a friend and family member needs it, I am known for not being a judgemental person. – J.M.

Irish. Short. Old. Tired. American. Homeowner.

I had a hard time thinking of one word to explain my identity. I wanted to say complete sentences. Overall, it really gave me something to think about. When thinking of my identity, I need to think of my family. My grandparents, parents, and siblings, really help shape my identity. My heritage and how I grew up are also important. The neighborhood I grew up in also shapes my identity. Comparing identity with my partner, we had completely different answers. I think it was due to age. I think my answers were based on what I thought not what someone else would think. – E.L.

College. Music. Nonchalant. Pianist. Programmer. Technology.

Throughout my brief interaction with my partner about the six words that define each other’s personalities, identity, mannerisms, et al., I found an example of a person who is not afraid of the background from which they came. Notably, a rebuttal of the relatively often-expressed notion that Detroit is not a good city in which to live. From my end, it was interesting to vocalizing my own internal perception of my characteristics to someone new to me. This is not something that I would do on an everyday or standard basis, as it is pretty common for people that I meet to pick up on these cues/tendencies passively through interaction, not spoken communication. – N.V.

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