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Ashlyn Rice
Mrs. Hebert
English 101
11 September 2016
Who am I?
Who am I? Well, if someone were to ask, I would probably respond with Ashlyn Rice.
If asked for more information, I would tell them that I am a high school student, and, as the topic
of self would progress, we would eventually reach the discussion of hobbies, to which I would
respond that I enjoy reading and listening to music. In fact, literature has influenced me so much
that I would go so far as to say that without it, I would not be who I am today. As a matter of
fact, if not for that books I have read, I would probably not be here today.
Now, books have not always owned my heart and soul. Up until the third grade, I was
constantly up and about, hanging out with the neighborhood kids at home, and my friends at
school on the playground. We would play tag or just sit around and play hand-games. My
second-grade year, I was called into a room with my friend Korissa Abshire. We were given a
series of tests, and it included things like the basic subjects-math, English, science, and historybut we were also asked to act out a series of actions. Now, I am not a particularly artsy person,
but we tried our best, and the people testing us sent us back to our classes. A few weeks later, my
parents received a call saying that I was eligible for something called The Gifted Program. I
was only told that I had done well on my test, and that, if I wanted, I could go to a different
school and take advanced courses. I was thrilled, yet sad about leaving my friends. From that
point on, I was simply known as the Smart Chick by nearly everyone I met. I did not get along
well with many of my new classmates, as they all disliked when I corrected them on things and
answered all the questions correctly. It was then I grew to be a bit reclusive, sticking to myself as
much as possible, and I turned to books to occupy my mind.

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Books are a constant companion in a sea of ever-changing life. My friends and I will be
graduating in a few months time, and we may end up in different schools and classes, and, as
heart-breaking as it seems, we will eventually drift apart. New friends will be met and lost, new
relationships formed and broken, but I will always be able to return to the comfy recesses of my
favorite stories, to sink deeply within the words and phrases that come so familiarly to me. There
is just something so calming about remembering a bedtime story your mother and father read to
you when you were young, something so soothing about curling up with a book like The Hobbit.
You know all the plotlines in the stories, you know all the intricacies of the characters, but every
time you return, you find little things that you may have missed the first time around. You may
have new experiences that change the way you interpret certain characters or a certain bit of
dialogue, and all of a sudden you feel like you understand why Tolkien wrote this scene a
particular way, or why those two characters ended up together rather than the two you suspected
would get together.
Authors like J.K. Rowling, Rick Riordan, and J.R.R. Tolkien have taught me that it is
okay to be me. It is okay to not be perfect, and perfection does not guarantee success. Rowlings
works, and especially her Harry Potter series, taught me that its okay to fall apart, and that no
matter how hard you fall, you can always pick yourself back up again. Rick Riordan has a knack
for writing fleshed-out teen characters, and he always seems to write them with extreme
insecurities, many of which nearly cause severe and irreversible damage, both physical and
mental. This causes them to break down and beg for help, but they always have friends around
them that come to the rescue, telling them that they are good enough and that they should learn
to love themselves. Tolkiens Lord of the Rings trilogy contains many of the same character
traits, with Samwise Gamgee feeling as though he is not going to be able to protect his best

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friend Frodo, but had he given in to this thought, Frodo would not have made the trip all the way
to Mordor, and he most definitely would not have been able to throw the One Ring into the
magma. The one similarity in all of these books is that each protagonist had a close group of
friends to direct them along the correct path, and who refused to let them suffer. A group of
people who were always around help out when they were needed.
If you know me, you know that I am not a very sociable person. I am a naturally anxious
person, so I much prefer to hang back and simply watch, but if you ask me about a book, song,
character, etc. that I am a fan of, I am impossible to shut up. So, once I found people who had the
same interests as me, I stuck to them like glue. I had found something wonderful, and I was most
definitely not going to let it go, and my friends could probably tell you a bunch of stories of
times that I would go on hour-long rants about the most trivial fictional topics. For instance, If I
were to hear the slightest whisper through the grapevine that you were defending Severus Snape
a character in J.K. Rowlings Harry Potter seriesand refusing to acknowledge his faults, I
would appear at your side within minutes with a mile-long list that contains all of the reasons
why, even though you are entitled to your own opinion, you are wrong. Now, I have also been
told that this aspect of my personality can become a slight bit annoying, and that is more than
likely true, but when you have been around something like Harry Potter all your life, you get to
be a little uptight about some of the storys characters or plots. Literature is all that I know, and I
like to joke that my mind only has three sections: literature, song lyrics, and then the smallest
section is knowledge that I will actually need to succeed in life.
I would not say that literature and song lyrics have done nothing to help me succeed,
though. I know I have mentioned Harry Potter too often thus far, but why? What about this book
series is so interesting to warrant me referencing it so many times? It is simple: this series,

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written by J.K. Rowling, has given me some of the greatest inspiration and advice that I have
ever received in my life. In the second book of her seriesChamber of SecretsJ.K. Rowling
wrote a brilliant line that has always stuck with me through everything: It is our choicesthat
show what we truly are, far more than our abilities (Rowling 333). Furthermore, this line is
spoken to the protagonist by a father figure, and it is said to make you understand that though
you have the capacity for evil, it is your actions, not your potential, that makes you evil. The
same character, a few books later in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, speaks to the
protagonist about pain, and he mentions that numbing the pain, or trying to forget about it or
ignore it, will only make the pain that much worse when you finally face up to it (Rowling 695).
I was in the fourth grade, at my fourth new school, when I read the books for myself and
when I came across those quotes, and so many more like them, I felt like I wasnt alone. I know
that they are fictional characters, but to a small child whose parents had just divorced and who
was at a new school where no one knew her or even really liked her, the story of Harry Potter
was one of great comfort. Here was a boy no older than she was, coming from an even worse
place, and he was accomplishing great things. Surely this meant that she, too, could do
something great? So she tried. And tried, and tried, and tried. And got absolutely nowhere. She
had all of these ideas on what she wanted to do, but had not the faintest clue on how to
accomplish them. She began to grow more and more frustrated with herself until one day, she
snapped.
When I was in seventh grade, I began to self-harm. A touchy subject, I know, but at this
point in time, it is not exactly a secret, and I have gotten help. I had had an argument and was no
longer speaking to my bestand onlyfriend, my sister and mom were constantly yelling at
each other, and me and my brother were not exactly what you would call close. It was stupid,

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and I will admit that up front to you here, and I most definitely regret it, but the point that I am
trying to make is that, even at the lowest points of my life, I always had books. I cannot tell you
how many times I have read the same few books over and over and over again, but when your
life has gone to hell, it makes sense that you would find inspiration in stories about kids like you
who become these great and all-mighty people. Percy Jackson, Samwise Gamgee, Eragon
Bromsson, and, of course, Harry Potter. All of these kids started off as just that: kids. Each and
every one of them had moments when they felt they were never going to succeed, but right at the
last second, they find something worth fighting for, and that gives them the small bit of hope that
they needed to win the battle. For me, the thing that I found that was worth living for was
literature. Can you imagine if I had offed myself before the new Harry Potter book/play had
come out? I would have been devastated! Well, I would have been dead, but that is beside the
point.
The pointand there is a point to all of this, though it may not seem like itis that
books are a major part of who I am. Sometimes, I feel like none of my personality is even mine;
it feels as though all of my character traits have just been stolen from fictional characters in an
attempt to become a better person. This is not true. Yes, I may share some traits from other
characters, but that is what makes me, me. It is not that I am creating a new personality for
myself. I was not a blank sheet, waiting to be filled up with fake traits. I remember speaking with
my Uncle Nevin, my moms brother, and we got to the topic of how literature has influenced us.
We were speaking of exactly this topic, and I asked him whether my traits were really mine, or if
I had become an entirely new person. He assured me that all that I am, is entirely me. We dont
choose character traits as though were shopping for groceries, he said. We simply bring out
the parts of ourselves that we see within our favourite characters. I do not make sarcastic

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comments simply because I read that Harry Potter made sarcastic comments. I have always been
sarcastic, but seeing a popular character share this trait encouraged me to be more confident in
making snarky comments more often. I am not loyal because I once saw Samwise Gamgee go to
the ends of the (Middle) Earth for his friend, but rather, I am loyal because I love my friends and
would do anything to protect them. I do not correct peoples grammar because Hermione
Granger was an insufferable know-it-all; I do it because my mother is an English teacher, and I
grew up being scolded for misusing certain words or phrases. When I see a character who shares
my habits and little idiosyncrasies
So, ask me again: who am I? I am Ashlyn Rice. I am the Smart Chick, the book nerd,
the Grammar Nazi. Who am I? I am Samwise and Harry and Hermione and Percy Jackson and
Eragon, but most of all: I am me. I am Ashlyn Renee Rice, daughter, sister, friend, and mega
geek, and that is all I ever want to be.

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Works Cited
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Scholastic, 1999. Print.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Scholastic, 2000. Print.