When I was in grade school, about nine years old, we were given an assignment to answer about ten questions. I assume it was to make us think, or better express ourselves in writing or something. I can’t remember all the questions, but they were things like “what woman/man do you admire most and why?” and “which president would you like to meet and why?”
Even at that age I was always eager to share MY opinions and was so taken by the project that every year after, around my birthday, I would pull out the questions, answer them again, and then reread the old answers and see how much I’d changed. Keeping and rereading all the old answers was a fascinating capsule of “me” at many ages.
Particularly funny to me now is how I changed to listing movie stars as the people I most admired when I was eleven. That’s the year that Eddie Fisher dumped Debbie Reynolds for Elizabeth Taylor and the scandal of it all was everywhere. I’m not sure I even knew who these people were, but I was absolutely certain that I most admired Debbie Reynolds for being so brave during the public embarrassment of her philandering husband. Oddly, by the time I was thirteen I was most admiring Elizabeth Taylor who had been through so much in her life.
Admittedly, when you are that young many if not all of your ideas come from your parents and you just repeat them and make it sound like you know, you know?! My mom was really into movies and movie stars then, true, and she really wanted to move to Hollywood. I think I was in my early teens before I started to enlarge my world a bit, and then John F. Kennedy was assassinated and my new most admired became JFK and Jackie. Once again, heavily influenced by others and, of course, the press.
In later years as I continued to update the list and add or subtract questions, it became more about what I thought and less about what others told me I should think. I quit keeping those lists in my late 20s. I think I must still have them but haven’t yet found them in the boxes I’m cleaning out. I’m anxious to see them again! And, I wish I’d thought then to make some comment as to how I was feeling about life, about myself. I think those might have been some of the most interesting things to read now.
So, what about the 100 words? Just recently a friend asked me to make a list of 100 words that describe me. Not 100 words in a paragraph; 100 individual words. Like, tall, short, brunette, whatever. It was actually a good bit more difficult than I thought it would be.
At first I struggled at first to come up with 100 words and then struggled even more when I realized the writer in me couldn’t settle for just 100 words! But, I finally did it, even though I want to revise it almost daily (another bad, bad, bad writing habit — at least let the ink dry first). Rereading them I realize I completely omitted anything about myself physically! My words were more about who I am, what I feel, what I like.
My challenge to you is to come up with 100 words to describe yourself. Or, if you’re not a writer, at least think about it. I discovered some interesting things about myself and found that most of my words were about how I felt about myself, my writing, and my place in the over all scheme of things — the big picture. I’m tempted to make this a new annual project.