An Invitation to Introspection

When I was a senior in high school – 11 years ago (?!!?!??!  What weeping angels just stole a decade of my life?) – I took Psychology, since it was available and intriguing and, though I didn’t know it at the time, would fulfill one of Hillsdale’s core requirements when I aced the AP test.

In lieu of a final exam for the fall semester, our teacher gave us a list of prompts.  We were to choose a selection of them (though some were mandatory), practice the art of introspection for some weeks, and assemble a binder or album for her perusal with our answers – effectively, a scrapbook.

It’s not unfair to say that I learned much more about the practice of scrapbook assembly than I did about myself.  That said, it provides a better snapshot of my identity at that point than other keepsakes.


We were required to have a title page, and this was mine.  11 years to the *day.*

So.  Flash forward to this year, the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  I was visiting Ryan, my friend for some 13 years now and a fellow member of this psych class.  He pulled out his scrapbook, which is about 6 inches thick on account of the fact that he fashioned pop-ups on every single page.  It’s a behemoth of a book, and testament to his creativity and diligence where projects are concerned.

While a few of us gathered around to peruse it (look at how he fashioned his own paper clarinet and bassoon!  Look at these 5 doors that all open at once when you pull this string!), we wondered “What if we answered those questions again, today?”  What would change?  What wouldn’t?

So I tracked down the sheet of prompts to share.  No one needs to share their answers – I have found that I’ve grown a bit more circumspect with age, and perhaps a bit more honest with the unpleasant facets of my own character – but y’all are free to, if’n you like.  How much has changed in the past 11 years?  How much would your answers shift from year to year?

  1. Five words that describe me
  2. Three things I really like about myself
  3. Skills and behaviors I need to learn
  4. Two things I would like to change in myself
  5. My top values in life are:
  6. Two of my special abilities or talents are
  7. The happiest moment of my life
  8. The most unhappy moment in my life
  9. Tomorrow I would like to be
  10. The two deepest concerns I have right now
  11. The best advice I ever received
  12. If I were anyone else I would be
  13. The most important person in my life
  14. Ranked in order, this is who I am
  15. My close friends see me as (have them write a narrative and place that in your packet)  [This prompt was the BEST.  Especially delightful years later to have a bit of your friends’ handwriting.]
  16. My really close friends are
  17. Five things I like about my family
  18. Two major events in my family’s history that made an impression on me
  19. Two people that affected my lifeLHWL
  20. I will remember Lutheran High Westland as
  21. Two experiences that affected me in a personal way
  22. I will never forget the following people
  23. My biggest fear
  24. I would like to be remembered as
  25. 10 experiences I would like to experience

Optional: We had to choose at least 15 of the following:

  1.  My most embarrassing moment
  2.  The funniest moment I experienced
  3.  One moment that I will never forget
  4.  If you own or drive a car, describe it
  5.  I see my girlfriend/boyfriend as (also, an experience that you have shared and you will never forget)
  6.  It’s the year 2004 2015 and my favorite song is


    Ohhh dear, high school boyfriend. Ironic that he featured so prominently when we broke up a year and a day later.

  7.  It’s the year 2004 2015 and my favorite movie is
  8.  It’s the year 2004 2015 and my favorite book is
  9.  Favorite article of clothing
  10.  Favorite sport/hobby
  11.  Favorite place to hang out
  12.  One year from now I see myself
  13.  Ten years from now I see myself
  14.  The greatest compliment I ever received
  15.  Two things I would change about my family
  16.  My favorite time of year
  17.  My family sees me as
  18.  If I had a million dollars, I would
  19.  One thing that makes me unique
  20.  My room is
  21.  I see my brothers/sisters as
  22.  I see my parent(s) as
  23.  One place I want to go
  24.  My favorite thing to do when I am alone
  25.  If I could change one thing in the world, I would
  26.  My pet
  27.  My favorite class in school (any year)
  28.  My best childhood memory
  29.  “When I grow up” I want to
  30.  I get most frustrated when
  31.  My favorite thing to do on the weekend
  32.  My most nerve-racking moment


    I like The Princess Bride, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and Harry Potter.  Color everyone SHOCKED.

  33.  My favorite teacher
  34.  If I could re-live one high school moment (repeat or change)
  35.  The place where I live
  36.  The best choice I have made
  37.  The worst choice I have made
  38.  My greatest accomplishment
  39.  My greatest failure
  40.  The way I have changed the most in the last four years
  41.  My nickname is (and how I got it)

7 thoughts on “An Invitation to Introspection

  1. “fashioned pop-ups on every single page” O_O wow.

    I get the feeling that quite a few of these would be very different (and I know what you mean about the stolen decade, though I’m getting closer and closer to it being a stolen score!)

    but at least one has remained the same – I would like to be remembered as: a loved one to friends and family who knew me, and to the rest of the world as nothing at all. A name on a tombstone without context.
    Unfortunately, this directly conflicts with my desire for my writing to be successful. I have yet to solve this particular conundrum without blatant lies.

    • Yeah, the pop-ups were amazing and a little bit terrifying. The funniest part was the last-minute ones fashioned around 2 AM the day it was due – mere doors opening instead of the intricate fold-on-fold, flap-within-flap work of earlier days.

      For me, it’s been *mostly* a semantic shift. E.g., a couple of my 2004 words-to-describe-me were “smart” and “sleepy,” which now became “intelligent” and “lazy.” Or “Things I like about my family” – largely unchanged, but I express my thoughts much differently. More nuance, these days.

      Curiously, I now have much more trouble picking a happiest moment and saddest moment. If I needed to focus on a happy memory to conjure a Patronus, I’m not sure what I’d pick at this point.

      The conundrum makes sense to me – matter as a person to the PEOPLE who matter…but leave a legacy of excellent words and stories for everyone else! Without, you know, the tiresome people “debunking” your work decades later on account of your personal life. Or am I off the mark completely? 😛

      • Nuance, indeed. We begin to understand words, and that’s a life-long process. ^_^

        Ok. Now I have to ask. What do you think your Patronus would be?

        Nope, you hit the proverbial nail, and very eloquently, too.

      • 😀 YAY WORDS. Which seems like a very succinct summary of the last decade, really.

        I honestly don’t know. Presumably a cat of some sort? Both because I love them and because I identify with them – a mix of affection and aloofness, etc. Possibly a larger cat rather than a housecat. What about you?

      • Yay Words!

        I dunno either. As much as I would rather it be a cat, or a bat, or a horse, or one of my other favorite critters, I suspect it would be a very big dog. I’m very like a sheep-dog in personality, after all.

        Also, have a favorite crossover comic I found ages ago on Elfwood:


      • That is fantastic. Good luck, Harry, especially if someone burdened you with the One Ring AS WELL AS a Horcrux-head.

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