The Moment that Changed Everything in my Life: Self-Discovery

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Updated: Nov 30, 2023
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This personal essay will narrate a pivotal moment that led to self-discovery. It will describe the event, its immediate impact, and the long-term changes it brought about in the author’s life, reflecting on the transformative power of significant life experiences. On PapersOwl, there’s also a selection of free essay templates associated with Identity.

Category: Identity
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The ‘Moment That Changed Everything’: Understanding the Self through Philosophy and Experience

I always thought of the idea of the self as something intangible, a given that I assumed everyone understood and therefore didn’t have to question. After reading Descartes’ Meditations, I found that my experiences and understanding of my “self” directly involved how I interpreted my past and how I decided that it would determine my future. Schechtman’s paper on “Personal Identity and The Past” was a really thought-provoking piece.

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Her idea of learning through experiences that we claim was interesting, mainly because it allowed space for growth, something I have come to value a lot. The idea of self, I think, changes from person to person, but for me, it is awareness. Aware of our roles as people in our respective communities and how those versions interact with one another to create the best and only version of ourselves. Aware of our actions and experiences and how they affect our futures. “Those memories or desires or motivations whose existence as part of the psychological economy must be postulated to make sense of a person’s experience or the course of her life will be considered her experiences” (20). Her words inspired me to think about what I thought, which I found incredibly hard to do. I thought about my interests, my goals in life, and my fears, reaching a deeper understanding of the person I am today, thanks to the person I was yesterday.

A New Reality: Immigration, Anxiety, and the Shift in My Life

I moved to Oregon when I was 10. I grew up in East Los Angeles and was hit in the face when we moved, forced to see my parents under a different light than that of the California sun, where everyone looked the same and the legal status everyone held was not questioned or discussed but assumed and left alone. Life in California was much different than in Oregon. I had to come to terms with my skin and identity, and I quickly learned that liberalism and racism are not always mutually exclusive to each other. That despite projecting progressive values, gentrification, and institutional injustices continue to run rampant, affecting the quality of life for many people of color (Drew). I began to live with anxiety residing in what looked like a permanent home within my body, constantly second-guessing the most out of the smallest things.

Struggles and Resilience: The Link Between Parental Immigration Status and Mental Health

I came to realize that my anxiety, inadvertently or not, had much to do with the legal status my parents held, not so much the city we lived in. As the eldest of four, I perfected my language skills in order to help my siblings with their English and thus reducing the amount of money my parents had to pay for English lessons at school. I became the interpreter for my parents despite having only recently mastered both languages. I memorized emergency contact numbers and information, and eventually, I began to learn about the changes in local laws that could potentially affect our family. In recent years I have made it a priority to read up on everything happening on the state and national levels because I don’t think I can afford not to do that. It’s safer to know than to not know. I have come to associate myself with the status my parents hold, as it has become an important factor in everyday activities. Immigration has always been a part of my life. It was there long before I was born when my parents first decided to move here, and it will continue to be a big part of me for as long as I’m alive. The trauma from living like this does not move on, and I don’t ever expect it to go away.

I know that I am not alone on this. There are an estimated 4 million children of unauthorized immigrants who are US citizens by birth and reside in the United States today (Hainmueller et al.). They share similar stories of anxiety, fear, and alienation in a country we call home despite it never being created with us in mind. A study conducted on 5653 mothers residing in Oregon through Emergency Medicaid information found that many of their children reportedly suffered from mental health disorders such as anxiety, acute stress, and adjustment disorder. The study also found that the children whose mothers were eligible for DACA, thus protected from the risk of deportation, had lower amounts of stress and mental health disorders reported through their Medicaid claims (Hainmueller et al.). The solution was simple: protect the health of these children by protecting their families. “Protecting unauthorized immigrants from deportation led to immediate and sizable improvements in the mental health of their U.S. citizen children. This suggests that parents’ unauthorized status is a substantial stressor that stymies normal child development and perpetuates health inequalities by transferring parental disadvantages to children” (Hainmueller et al.).

Law, Justice, and Injustice: The Turning Point in My Life

I am the daughter of immigrants. I have faced injustice all my life and have defied all odds by graduating high school and now attending college. This part of me which has changed every aspect of my life, will continue to impact me as I pursue a career in law. Because this fear-stricken narrative shouldn’t exist, and more importantly, because many who are just like my parents rely on people like me, who, from an early age, have seen the struggles undocumented immigrants face and have every intention of doing something about it.

“We are fighting in a system that we were never meant to be a part of, for people that the system never meant to protect” (DePaul 166).
Whenever someone finds out I want to practice law, their eyes seem to widen. They usually proceed to tell me how everyone hates lawyers and question why I would ever want to become one. What they want to know is what happened and what led me to pursue a career in law. What traumatic event pushed me to want to become a lawyer? I’ve often questioned it myself. I seem to be more angry towards the legal system than I am content or ever satisfied with it, so I wonder if that is the reason I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer. I know I want to become a lawyer, but I never asked why. I have always valued justice as the most important factor in coming to decisions. The idea of justice has always been appealing; it is supposed to create a balance where the good guys win and where everything is as it should be. Seeing an injustice first-hand changes the way you view the world; it changes how you view the justice system.

I’ve seen the legal system fail people before, heard stories of people dying because of failure to bring justice, and I’ve watched cases unfold where the context is disregarded, reducing people to labels and sentences not fitting for their person. Long before I was born, my uncle died in jail after being wrongfully convicted for a crime that the police later found had nothing to do with him. He died after days of torture at the hands of people meant to uphold justice and peace. Despite never having met him, my heart breaks. He was 22, not much older than I am now. I am sure that his story is not unique as it is most likely shared by many others, older and younger than him, in situations where their death was not justified, and those responsible were not held accountable. Stories like these make me want to do something. Ideally, I’d like to be able to change the way the system addresses people of color and others from marginalized groups. I want to be able to create change, and I want to become involved in systems that give me the platform for action at a wider scale. Because I value justice and because I am a part of communities where injustices in the legal system are common, my goal of becoming a lawyer does seem to make sense. Who I hope to become in the future is in great part due to the experiences and memories I have of myself in the past.

Music as a Catalyst: BTS and My Personal Growth

“Maybe I made a mistake yesterday, but yesterday’s me is still me. I am who I am today, with all my faults. Tomorrow I might be a tiny bit wiser, and that’s me, too. These faults and mistakes are what I am, making up the brightest stars in the constellation of my life. I have come to love myself for who I was, who I am, and who I hope to become” (Kim Namjoon BTS, UN General Assembly).

Early last year, I came across a band named BTS. Despite the language barrier, I learned through translations that their music spread a message of hope and reassurance, helping me cope with many things occurring in my life at that moment. I found comfort in their music, even if I didn’t (and still don’t) fully understand Korean. I believe that music transcends barriers and is not limited to a language in order to be valid. Their music specifically encourages growth, helping me understand and accept myself a bit better. Paradise, a song on one of their more recent albums, “Love Yourself ? Tear,” talks about living without a dream. T

his song, in particular, has changed the way I approach my life and my experiences. It’s difficult to keep going when you don’t even know what you’re working so hard for, what the purpose of continuing is if the end goal isn’t what you had in mind, or if there is no goal, to begin with. It is so easy to lose sight of the small things, to forget what meaning you give your life, and to run blindly because everyone else is doing it. We all move according to our own clock; there is no need to treat life like a race. I don’t have to know my future, it doesn’t have to be a certain way, and I think I’m okay with that. “It’s okay to stop. It’s okay not to have a dream as long as you have moments of happiness” (BTS “Paradise,” Selesi). I found comfort in these words, and that’s all I could ever ask from music.

Kim Namjoon, the leader of the group BTS creates reviews on a vlogging website, detailing the thought process behind every song on their albums and the relation to their everyday lives. He is credited as a writer and producer for almost all of the songs the band has released, and throughout the years, his growth has shined through the music he composed, encompassing feelings of loneliness, forgiveness, fear, and relief. I took an interest in this music because of this message. It’s raw, conscious of one’s self, and it provokes thought and meaning at a deeper level. I understand myself better because of this music, which seems ludicrous at first, but I find it completely valid. I am able to learn about myself, reach out to others when I’m in need, and have learned how to communicate my feelings better. I have learned to value growth and appreciate the little things that make life worthwhile. Their music doesn’t create an escape from my problems; rather, it has helped me cope with life and has made living a little easier. I have found things in my life that make me happy, that bring my life meaning and shine rays of hope even in my darkest times.


  1. Descartes, R. (1641). Meditations on First Philosophy.
  2. Schechtman, M. (1996). Personal Identity and The Past.
  3. Drew, A. (Ed.). (2018). Gentrification and Race: The Politics of Community Change in California.
  4. DePaul, V. (Ed.). (2021). Encountering Community: From Political Theory to Phenomenology.
  5. BTS. (2018). Love Yourself ? Tear.
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The Moment That Changed Everything in My Life: Self-Discovery. (2023, Aug 01). Retrieved from