Author Matthew Salesses on the Value of Remaking Yourself


Wheelock 2015 Convocation Speaker Matthew Salesses, author of The Hundred Year Flood, says it can be very hard to break away from other people’s expectations. But he says starting college—and other times of big life transitions— offer young people a chance to rethink who they want to be. “You have no path,” he says. “You can kind of change who you want to be and there’s a period of time when people will accept the identity that you’re setting out for yourself.”

“Life is a sort of continual learning and relearning”

Salesses, whose writing deals with his identity as a Korean adoptee and the struggle of understanding himself and where he belongs in America, says it’s important to continuously rethink who you are because it allows you to grow and learn throughout your life. “Knowledge can be a sort of trap and you feel like, I’ve learned some things and now I can begin my life,” he says. “But life is a sort of continual learning and relearning. Who we project ourselves as and who we make ourselves into is a kind of story. In order to have access to those possible stories, we need to see them and they need to look like options to us.”

Hear more from author Matthew Salesses in this speech on “Belonging and Identity in America” from Convocation.