I Am Not One Thing, But All Things


We are not ourselves but instead, a collection of everything we have ever read, saw, tasted, or experienced. We are not one thing, but all things. We carry pieces of past lovers, forgotten friendships, and abandoned family members. At any moment in life, we carry these memories with us, and they shaped who we are and who we will become. 

I am not just me or what I claim or aim to be. I am the sum of everything that happened to me, my parents, my siblings, my friends, and my teammates wrapped into one. I am the sum of certain songs on the radio or favorite poems. I am the warmth of a barista on a snowy day serving hot coffee, and sometimes I am the emptiness that exists in abandoned train stops. I am my favorite vacation spot and my least favorite spot on the bench. 

However, we are also not just who we surround ourselves with, but what is born into us. I carry generations of family trauma that have been ignored and hiding behind poisonous words and arms that push away instead of welcome. I was born with feet made for running away instead of standing my ground. These are generational traits, not just my own. 

All the hurt and trauma my parents did not deal with carries onto my siblings and me. Everything that goes on in our life undealt with will always show itself eventually. Whether it’s a parent who left you as a child or community violence  – the pain lives on in us and those that come from us until it is solved. 

It is a cycle that manifests itself. 

This is why drug addiction or alcoholism is 50% genetic predisposition and 50% poor coping skills. It’s not always our fault that we got there, but it immediately becomes our responsibility to cope healthily – not only for ourselves but for everyone that comes in contact with us and after us. 

I carry the trait of extremism from my mother and the characteristic of running away from problems from my father. I’ve taught myself a healthy balance in all areas. When life gets chaotic, it’s easy to let go of what I’ve accomplished and found myself being an extremist in one area of my life and only paying attention to that. 

As soon as I made myself aware that not confronting my problems can be detrimental to my growth and success, I’ve forced myself to stand tall in the thick of it. I make plans of confrontation now. I was never scared of being confronted or doing the confronting – I just found it more convenient to leave before going through the hassle. 

Yet, here I am. I am the sum of my experiences. I am the sum of my family’s experience. I am the sum of strangers and of the people who were once close to me. I am the sum of all art I indulge in and all the musicians that fill the space. I’ve matured and I’ve acted childish. But one thing I will never stop doing is growing.  

Our experiences alone do not define us, but instead, shape us and can mold us. Ultimately, we decide what we carry with us and pass to others along the way. It is easy to become the sum of one single experience, however, as soon as we allow that to happen, we are no longer in complete control of ourselves but at the hand of that singular experience. 

To grow is to be in control and recognize when things are becoming out of reach of reality. It is the recognition that we are not all that we encounter, but all that encounters us. Everything we do, touch, and maneuver through have an impact on someone else. 

I am not one thing, but all the things around me. I embody the pain and the joy of the ones from before me and will pass along the ugly and the beauty to the ones that come after me. I am just one small piece of this Earth, but the people I encounter, the words I write, and the lessons  I teach my children will live forever.