In our First Person section we turned to you — our readers, our friends, and the experts we trust most — and asked for your insight and personal experiences. Here are nine of our most unforgettable first-person essays from 2015.
  1. "I'm a black ex-cop, and this is the real truth about race and policing"
    "A Gallup poll from last year asked Americans to rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in various fields: Police officers ranked in the top five, just above members of the clergy. The profession — the endeavor — is noble. But this myth about the general goodness of cops obscures the truth of what needs to be done to fix the system. It makes it look like all we need to do is hire good people, rather than fix the entire system."
  2. "I live in Iran. Here's how sanctions have shaped my life"
    "I was 4 years old before we had a phone. When I was 5 we finally bought furniture — a table and two chairs. Throughout the war we heard news of young boys perishing on the front lines, entire families wiped out by bombs. For a while, street bombings became frequent in our neighborhood, and when my father left home in the morning, my mother remained fearful till nightfall, uncertain if he would return."
  3. "I'm a doctor. Preparing you for death is as much a part of my job as saving lives"
    "Expiring in a hospital room, doctors screaming and scurrying and cracking your ribs, away from your friends and family — I wondered how many opportunities there had been to explain his end-of-life options to him or his family. Did they understand his prognosis? I'll never know. But as he lay there alone in the hospital bed, curtains drawn, still attached to machines, I felt as if we'd failed him."
  4. "The internet is full of men who hate feminism. Here's what they're like in person"
    "When Max came to Chicago in 2006, it was for college ("not the first in my family to go to college but the first to go at the normal time" — that is, at age 18). Four years after graduating, he has a solid entry-level job at an area financial institution. "Plenty of women work there," he offers in the middle of a preliminary biographical rundown. 'They're getting paid the same as me. We had not yet begun discussing politics."
  5. "9 things I wish I'd known before I became a stay-at-home mom"
    "When your kids are tiny, you don't foresee the day when they will see you as something other than just their parent. Yet the day arrives when they remark positively on a mom who is a teacher, an executive, or a doctor. There is nothing quite as demoralizing as trying to convince your kid that you had once been something, done something. That you had once mattered in some very small way in the larger world."
  6. "I used to lead tours at a plantation. You won’t believe the questions I got about slavery"
    "There is a surprisingly prevalent belief out there that slaves' rations and housing were bestowed upon them out of the master's goodwill, rather than handed down as a necessity for their continued labor — and their master's continued profit. This view was expressed to me often, usually by people asking if the family was "kind" or "benevolent" to their slaves, but at no point was it better encapsulated than by a youngish mom taking the house tour with her 6-year-old daughter."
  7. "My wife has depression. There’s finally a TV show that understands our relationship"
    "A friend once told me that loving someone else is easy, that it's harder to learn to accept yourself as worthy of being loved. As someone with his own baggage (as we all have), this spoke deeply to me. Loving my wife was easy. Letting myself believe she loved me — even in the worst times — was hard. Once we got there, I could truly help her — not to get rid of the depression but to find her way through the mazes it keeps throwing up."
  8. "I'm Latino. I’m Hispanic. And they’re different, so I drew a comic to explain"
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  9. "I own guns. Here's why I'm keeping them"
    "As far as I know, my grandfather never had to fire his gun in defense of his family, but like many blacks in the years following emancipation, he believed firearms were a necessary part of protecting them. Particularly in the South — but in fact throughout the United States — blacks could not rely on the government to protect them from crime or terrorism."