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Ridge Caples

Mr. Waltman

English Composition

30 January 2019

Finding your Identity

In the “Write or Wrong Identity”, former college student Emily Vallowe examines how her early

childhood experiences shaped her identity as a writer. She doesn’t know if writing is her true

vocation in life and goes on to question whether this is true or not. Writing was the only identity

Vallowe had ever cling to in her life and questioning its validity made her fearful. Vallowe had

always believed in abstract ideals in her life, and writing was one of those in which she never

questioned this assertion during her early childhood. She wanted to be a writer simply because

that’s what she was told by her teachers and peers and during her early life Vallowe never

questioned that belief. Towards the end of the narrative Vallowe states that having an identity

crisis, even throughout your adult life, is actually a normal and healthy way we grow as individuals.

I agree with Vallowe that children are told from birth that they have a talent they must utilize in

order to have a successful life. Children never question this assertion and therefore believe that its

true even though it may not be. Vallowe says informally that having an identity crisis is simply a

normal part of life that most everyone experiences. This statement is true, even though it may not

feel right I believe that it is still necessary.

Early in her life Vallowe was told by her peers that she was a good writer. She never questioned

this and saw every writing assignment as a test to prove just how skilled of a writer she was. By

the age of five Vallowe started to recognize that kids were good at different things: some kids were

better at t-ball, others showed talent in drawing (75). She started to believe that she had to be
amazing at every writing assignment thrown at her simply because that was who she was as a

person; it was supposed to be her talent. Vallowe pushed herself in every writing assignment to

prove her worth as a writer. She wrote with the attitude of believing that she had to be good at this

(75). Vallowe described her classmates as being talented writers who could easily come up with

brilliant stories in minutes. She was competitive in the fact that she always thought people more

talented than her at writing were threatening her identity as one.

Vallowe makes the point at the end of the narrative that having an identity crisis for the entirety

of your life is actually normal to experience, regardless of what your talent is believed to have

been. Questioning over whether or not her identity as a writer is true or not caused her distress and

uncertainty. However, it was through this uncertainty that Vallowe discovered having difficulties

in understanding who you are is perfectly normal, even when someone grows old towards the end

of one’s life. Vallowe also goes on to say that through her own experiences during her childhood

she was able to develop the skill of abstract absolutes in many aspects of her life. Vallowe grew

up in Virginia, however she was born in Chicago. She regards Chicago as the perfect city in

absolute terms, in other words no other city can come close to its greatness (76). Vallowe then

makes the point that using her city as “the perfect” abstract is an example of how there is an abstract

everything in someone’s life. I have experienced what Vallowe has experienced, particularly

during my early years in high school. I don’t believe that its healthy however, to group people into

two groups of those who have known their path all their lives and those who struggle with finding

their path. It is normal to have an “identity crisis”, but it shouldn’t be accepted as something that

should be continues throughout one’s life.

Later in the text, Vallowe makes the obvious point that each person has a career (however she

refers to these as callings), saying that each person must go on his or her own “journey” to find
out what that calling should be (78). She questions herself by saying that being born knowing only

one path to go down doesn’t bring any comforting conclusions to her. Vallowe makes the

assumption that writing may have been hammered into her as a child, without Vallowe even given

the change to decide if she truly wants to be defined as a writer. Abstract ideals are something

Vallowe has clung to for most of her life, and the “identity” of herself as a writer is simply an

abstract idea with no factual evidence. This is something everyone goes through in life, some never

question their chosen vocation, others, like Vallowe, have always questioned their chosen path.

The “Write or Wrong Identity” by Emily Vallowe reminds me of my own experiences in trying

to find a chosen path in life. Ever since I was young, I was told I would make a good lawyer. I had

the critical thinking and writing skills one needs to succeed in the legal field. Throughout my entire

childhood I have never known exactly why I wanted to be an attorney. Close members of my

family such as my grandparents and uncles would always say “Ridge is going to make a great

lawyer someday.” I always believed them even though I didn’t understand it completely. What my

family has told me continues to resonate with me to this day. Unlike Vallowe, however, I’ve never

questioned the career path I want to pursue; however, I agree with Vallowe in that no one truly

knows what they want to accomplish in life, and the question of why I chose this profession or

vocation is still a mystery to this day. It’s a mystery for most people as for the reason they choose

their specific profession. Some have known since they were very young, they wanted to become

something, others do some “soul-searching” and don’t find out until later in life.

In the initial brainstorming phases I revolved the paper around the theme of someone having an

identity crisis and how one questions his or her identity. I connected my own experiences with this

theme of an identity crisis in the essay as well. Towards the final phases it became apparent that

the paper was more than just someone trying to find their “niche” or career in life, but rather about
how people have many abstract ideals in their life that they never question. The biggest challenge

in this assignment was trying to piece together my thoughts and ideas about the narrative and

turning them into a supportive view of the text’s main points.

Work Cited Page

Vallowe, Emily. “Write or Wrong Identity.” The Norton Field Guide to Writing with Readings

and Handbook, 4th ed.,edited by Richard Bullock et al, W.W. Norton and Company, 2016, pp 73-