Every year, in my high school yearbook, the seniors each got half a page to themselves; this was filled with their responses to a questionnaire that asked things like “Likes Most” and “Favorite Sayings.” In my senior year, of course I spent hours and hours honing my answersthis presaged the amount of time it takes me now to write a personals adand I remember particularly clearly the torture I went through trying to decide what my answer to “What I Have Learned in the Past Twelve Years” would be.
I am horrified and ashamed to admit that what I came up with in the end was “that people are inherently good.”
I feel slightly redeemed, though, by the fact that the instant the deadline for making any changes had passed, it occurred to me that it would have been much better to quote Ovid:
What I Have Learned in the Past Twelve Years: Rident stolidi verba Latina.
This translates as “fools laugh at the Latin language.”
What this makes me realize is that even at eighteen the central dichotomy of my character was already fixed: I believe in people deeply but I hate them anyway.