I am strong, not weak. I am an open diary, not a closed book. I am determined, not submissive. I am real, not pretentious or fake. I am all these things, but when faced by a situation that is hell-bent on revealing a side of me that I was always oblivious of, I realize that at that point in time, I suddenly become everything I think I am not. This realization actually becomes an integral part of who I truly am later on, therefore, resulting in becoming who I thought I was not, into accepting all those attributes and then becoming a culmination of two identities that reside within my one and only mind and self.

This self-portrait made on a found piece of imperfect wood represents elements of who I am not integrated with who I am. I am not a found piece, I was carefully, meticulously and perfectly planned, yet I have all sorts of imperfections. There are two major sides to me, multiple identities if you will; one is black and white and looks identical to my physical self yet does not have the essence of who I am as a personality, the other has all those missing ingredients, she is full of color, vibrations and emotions, but she looks like a different person altogether. These two sides, no matter how contrasting, have simultaneously made it possible to learn and live within one body, mind and soul, giving each other the power to take over when the other feels weak and out of place. Therefore, all that I am not is actually who I really am.

Farwah Rizvi’s personal essay, “Who We Are Not,” won second prize in the Eighth Annual School of Visual Arts Writing Program Contest. Farwah is a junior majoring in Fine Arts at SVA.