defining you

What’s your extraction?

During a meeting today, someone used the term ‘extraction’ as a synonym for heritage; I had never heard it used like this before and found it quite funny. So, during the rest of the meeting we kept making jokes about it. Afterwards, I looked up the meaning of extraction online, and the online version of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines this noun in following ways: 1) The act or process of extracting something 2) Something extracted 3) Ancestry , Origin <a family of French extraction>. Then, I started thinking about my heritage… I mean, my extraction. I know where my ancestors came from, but how does this define me as Hayley Zimmerman?

Here’s some background information about my extraction: my mom is 100 percent Polish, and proud of it, while my dad is a mutt – German, French, and Native American. However, I don’t think this enough information to understand me. You need to know who they came from – my grandparents – and what they did.

My mom’s parents were raised on farms and neither of them completed high school. They were married in their early twenties, and raised their six children the typical way during that time in mid-Michigan – a stay-at-home mom and a dad working in the manufacturing industry. My dad’s parents graduated from high school, and they were always gone due to my Grandfather’s profession as a nationwide truck driver. Also, his mother could always keep a conversation going, and she was nicknamed “Windy.” So, how does this define me?

There are many things I inherited from my family aside from my physical appearance and my mixture of origins. I got my ambition and powerful work ethic from my mom’s father’s times in the field and in the manufacturing industry. I got my tenderness and warmth from my mom’s mother, and the lesson’s she learned as she clocked many hours raising their children into wonderful and warmhearted adults. I got my openness for change from my dad’s father, which he developed as a truck driver never knowing what he would see out his window tomorrow. I got my talkativeness from my dad’s mom. Finally, my parents gave me an open outlook on life, the push needed to do the most I can with the time I have, and the ability to see life through a lens of logic and common sense.

In the end, my extraction doesn't define me. Instead, I think the people I came from gave me the sturdy framework I needed to be the best me, and every second of every day I either uphold or change the definition of Hayley Zimmerman.