Proust Questionnaire with Sam Berenson

Samantha Berenson, 2022, answers the questionnaire created by the famed French essayist and novelist Marcel Proust.


Carly Ozmun

Sam Berenson in the stairway outside of her math class. Berenson is a senior on the school volleyball team which won the state championship. “You are capable of doing a lot, but you can’t do it all,” Berenson said.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Surrounding myself with things that make me comfortable and bring out the best in me, not having a sliver of doubt that people are judging me or that I’m doing something wrong. Just feeling absolutely comfortable in the environment I am surrounded by.

What is your greatest fear?
I don’t like the thought of failing by society’s standards, which is stupid. I’m also very afraid of falling from heights.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Ironically, my kindness. As much as I like being kind, I wish that I could say things straight and tell people both the good and the bad. I just can’t do that right now because my people-pleasing trait just overrides everything else.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
I don’t like it when people can’t read a room. If they don’t get the vibe and they’re obviously acting in some way that just isn’t appropriate for the scenario that just really bothers me. I also don’t like it when people are very self-centered. That really puts me off of people and it on first look makes me not care or care to listen.

Which living person do you most admire?
Probably my uncles. Both of them are wicked smart and had an impact. I just admire what they believed they could do without the standard social expectation of getting an education from college.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Food? I don’t really shop for myself and I only shop for other people when it’s something that is customary for holidays or birthdays, stuff like that. But other than that, I don’t really spend money on myself, so food.

What is your current state of mind?
I’m currently numb but in a good way. I did struggle with mental health and I’m not 100% cured because it never is, but I’m in a better spot now than I was.

On what occasion do you lie?
When I’m probably doing small things. If I am told, “Oh, call some relatives or clean my room,” I say “Okay, I’ll do it,” or occasionally, if I’m going out some night with my friends and my parents ask what I did, I tell them we just sat in a parking lot, which is 99% of the case, but there’s always that one where maybe we went to someone’s house or Dairy Queen or met up with other people and I just don’t share it.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I don’t like being short.

Which living person do you most despise?
Donald Trump.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Probably words of support like “You got this,” or “Don’t worry about it.” These are obviously good things, but like most things when you say them over and over again, they become cliché and lose meaning. I’m genuine when I say it, but I say it so much that it just doesn’t mean the same thing.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My relationship with sports. It’s something I can relate to and know that I’ve had at least a little bit of an impact on in Hopkinton.

When and where were you happiest?
I was probably happiest this past summer. I finally had time for myself and time to spend with people that I really liked despite COVID. It was just very relaxing and self-centered.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I would either want to be able to draw or be very flexible, which is kind of weird but I think gymnastics and contortion are so cool.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would want to be more honest with people in the sense that I sometimes tell people what they want to hear because I don’t want them to feel bad or down on themselves for doing something wrong. I just don’t really tell them how it is and I wish I was better about doing that.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Academically probably, either being student of the month, or I was given some money for an academic scholarship from one of the schools I got into. As far as athletics, I’m very proud of my entire volleyball career.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
I don’t know if I would want to come back as a person. That’s a lot more brainpower that I don’t think I can do again. I would probably be a bird. They have a lot of freedom, similar to humans and they are all pack animals. They live pretty simple lives and are accustomed to all weather and most changes in the environment, very versatile animals.

Where would you most like to live?
If it was in the United States I’d probably say the Midwest because I want to go into agriculture and that’s their thing. I also really want to experience England and Ireland.

What is your most treasured possession?
My cat. Definitely an emotional support animal.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
The feeling of isolation and total loneliness. That has scared me for the longest time.

What is your favorite occupation?
I am currently looking to go into the science field. I’m very intrigued with medicine, I think that’s super cool. Medicine isn’t the area of science I want to go into but probably archaeology or marine biology.

What is your most marked characteristic?
Physically the red hair. Other than that, probably my kindness.

What do you most value in your friends?
Loyalty. I value their opinions, their self-worth, and their confidence.

Who are your favorite writers?
Sarah J. Maas, Pierce Brown, and Leigh Bardugo have been my long-term favorites.

Who is your hero of fiction?
I have always been very attached to Harry Potter.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
I admire Rosa Parks for being very passionate about who she is and the color of her skin and doing what she thought was absolutely right.

Who are your heroes in real life?
I look up to Kendall White who played volleyball for Penn State or my grandma. My grandma has been through a lot and she continues to do what interests her. She is always very passionate about what she does and supportive of everyone.

What are your favorite names?
I kind of like unique names that are not gendered, something like Sky or maybe Red.

What is it that you most dislike?
I really hate it when people are dishonest and not passionate about certain things that they say they are.

What is your greatest regret?
I regret not being more social as a kid. I have good friends now, a good circle with a few other branches, but up until now, it’s been the same few people which is okay. There’s nothing wrong with that because I love them, but I really wish that I could get other people’s perspectives that might bring something out of me that wasn’t brought to light already.

How would you like to die?
I don’t really know where to start. I want to know how it would feel to drown or experience different deaths. If I were given a question like, “Do you want to live forever?” my answer would be no because death is part of life. I mean getting older is pretty nice, but it depends on how old you get because then you can’t do anything and it gets boring.

What is your motto?
You are capable of doing a lot but you can’t do it all.