Estoy vs. Soy
Learning a new language is difficult. When I think back to high school or college days when I was required to study another tongue, it brings back frustrating memories. I remember when I was first learning the different tenses of verbs and how to conjugate them in Spanish. Something great and extremely challenging about Spanish is that there are hundreds of verbs, and interestingly enough, there are two verbs for the state of something’s being. These verbs are estar and ser. Estar refers to a temporary or transient state of being and ser is the characteristic, quality, or attribute described as inherent to the person or thing.
So when you are describing a resultant state, you would use estar, i.e., “Estoy cansada” ( I am tired).
And if you are describing yourself as who you are as a person, you would use ser, i.e., “ Soy cansada” (I am a tired person).
I love that there is a separation between these two states of being in Spanish. It is an important reminder to separate my transient emotions from who I actually am. We like to hold onto how we are feeling at the moment and identify it with who we are as a person. Your estoy does not have to mean that you have to keep that description and turn it into a soy.
These verbs can also be conjugated to allow us to describe others, and I want to emphasize that we do not have to turn other people’s “estars” into their “sers”. Feeling anger, sadness, sickness, disappointment, etc.. does not mean they are/you are an angry, sad, sick, or disappointed person. People’s actions create an outline of who they are being and they do not necessarily explain who they are as a person. I am a firm believer in actions speaking loudly but loudness doesn’t always equal coherency. I am not asking for less personal responsibility or weakened standards for our representations of ourselves. Rather, I feel that we must listen to what people are saying as well as what they say about themselves.
As I grow and develop as a human being I want to learn enough about myself to be able to describe who I am in concrete “soy” versus my transient feelings or how I am temporarily occurring to others.
A way where I was able to separate my estar from my ser was in my realization of who I am versus who my family thinks I am. Growing up, my older siblings would sometimes describe me as “absent minded” and the word “ditzy” was thrown around as well. If I had held onto these words and let them shape my “soy” I would not be the person I am today. These descriptions of me are difficult to share but I am able to share their opinions of how I was occurring because I know they are separate from who I actually am. I am a carefree and laidback person and sometimes I am forgetful or distracted. So, while other’s descriptions of me are interesting and valid, it is important to remember to separate what others say about me from who I actually am.
Being vulnerable about who you are is the essence of developing a deep connection with someone. When you share genuinely about what creates your foundation, it is a powerful way to facilitate a greater amount of intimacy and friendship. With the separation of your estoy and soy, you can share more about who you really are and what it means to be you.
Thank you for reading!