All things Adame

Social butterfly biology teacher delves into hard truths, fears, regrets, accomplishments, insecurities, heroes


Gabriel Adame

Biology teacher Gabriel Adame at the Bondi beach Bronte Coastal Walk in Australia.

Lanie Sepehri and Francie Wilhelm

According to Vanity Fair, the Proust Questionnaire was originally made as a parlor game popularized, by Marcel Proust, a French essayist and novelist. Proust believed that in answering 35 questions, the true nature and values of a person are unveiled.  In this edition of the Proust Questionnaire, Shield editors Lanie Sepehri and Francie Wilhelm sat down with biology teacher Gabriel Adame and picked his brain with an abridged version of the questions. 

Ie a route to happiness is when you know how to accept those things that happen in your life that are bad.

— Gabriel Adame

The Shield: What is your idea of perfect happiness? 

Adame: I feel like that idea is flawed because the term perfection would insinuate an unblemished vision of happiness. I’m gonna go off on a tangent here. Ms. Orr lent me a book called No Mud, No Lotus Flower. Basically, the book is about accepting the fact that sometimes life is dirty. Sometimes life is not the flower, but it’s muddy and gross. But those ideas are absolutely necessary. Like where would the lotus flower be without nutrients from the mud from the soil, the moisture from it. So I think perfect happiness to me is like a utopian idea in my eyes, just because we are humans, we are susceptible to adversity and burdens and trials and tribulation. I feel like a route to happiness is when you know how to accept those things that happen in your life that are bad. I feel like happiness is a state of being that people choose. Especially perfect happiness if you want to use that phrase, and I try my best to choose that daily. Like, despite the circumstances or despite how, you know, ineffective I feel it was at work or whatever negative thought creeps in my mind. I feel like perfect happiness is something I try to just engage in, no matter what. 

TS: What is your greatest fear? 

My greatest fear is to die alone. I’m so extroverted that the idea of being alone is frightening. 

TS: When and where are you happiest? 

I think I’m always happiest around people. It’s very evident that people have an effect on me. And even just being in the presence of somebody else I feel drawn to them, and I feel a need to want to help them or listen to them or see what their life story is about. So I think I’m definitely the happiest around people. I feel magnetized toward people.

Gabriel Adame and his wife visiting Mt. Fuji. Photo courtesy of Adame.

TS: What is your current state of mind? 

My current state of mind? It’s chaotic, it’s very chaotic. And it’s because I’ve always religiously tried to do as much as I possibly can to test my limits. And I always do that, but it always bites me in the butt. But like mentally, my head is in so many different places right now and throughout the day. Thank goodness for planners and agendas. I would be lost without one. 

TS: What qualities do you most like in a man or woman? 

I would say confidence is very big. And that’s displayed in different ways. As you know, some people are confident and quiet. And there are people who, like me, are outspoken. They choose to declare their confidence. Either one is fine to me, but I do like when people have a sense of satisfaction, or I guess to say being content with their knowledge and who they are. That kind of confidence is very attractive.

TS: What is the greatest love of your life? 

Oh, that’s such a good question. The greatest love of my life? It’s funny because I think it’s changed. Growing up, it was my mom. I love my mom. I love my dad too. But it was a different love. And now it’s definitely my wife. We moved to Austin on our own, without our family. That really meant a lot, and it’s starting to manifest itself into like, this new level in our relationship where like, trust, honesty, loyalty, like those things are like more fluid. And I really appreciate that about her. 

I would just like to be boundless and not have limitations.

— Gabriel Adame

TS: If you were to come back as a person or thing, what would it be? 

I would come back as a soaring eagle. Because number one, I’m afraid of heights. So I would assume being an eagle, that would not be a problem. And number two, I would just like to be boundless and not have limitations. It seems that way. I would love to experience that.

TS: What is your most treasured possession?

I’m trying to think of like something that I actually adore and cherish. Do I really have any? Maybe that’s a good thing. I don’t have any material things that I’m like really drawn to or associated with.

TS: What do you regard as the lowest depths of misery? 

​​I would say the lowest depth would be being in the company of misery because misery enjoys company. There’s been plenty of times in my life where I’ve been miserable on my own, and I can process those thoughts, you know, by myself, but when I’m with other miserable people, it’s like, it’s almost as though it has like an exponential effect, where everything is heightened because you’re sharing the same miserable experiences. 

TS: What is your favorite occupation? 

I mean, it’s got to be teaching. It just has to be, and I only say that because I haven’t been successful at being good at other things just yet. I feel like this one’s working out.

Gabriel Adame and his wife on a hike in El Paso, TX, Adame’s hometown. Photo courtesy of Adame.

TS: Who are your favorite writers? 

I’m gonna have to go with C.S., Lewis. I started reading C.S. Lewis as a kid just because I liked The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, very easy stuff. Stuff that was just interesting to me, like very kiddish. But then I started reading a lot of his books about religion, specifically Christianity. As of recent, the author of Where The Crawdads Sing. I just started reading it just because my wife just read it. And it’s been really good. And it’s been like, it makes me sad. Like thinking of her just all by herself, because once again, I’m the social guy, right?

TS: Who are your heroes in real life? 

It’s got to be my dad and my mom. I’m first generation because they were actually born in Mexico. They were raised there. And then they crossed the border. And then my dad actually joined the military and that’s how you gain citizenship. That whole idea of the American dream, and for it to actually happen. We didn’t have much but I never felt that way. And I think that’s a testament to their parenting skills, like we never felt without. And I always felt like they gave me a pathway for progression and success. They’re tough on me, but I would very much consider them heroes just based off of the things they had to deal with growing up, and ultimately, just being very kind people, despite the way they were treated.

I’m trying to think of like something that I actually adore and cherish. Do I really have any? Maybe that’s a good thing.

— Gabriel Adame

TS: What is it that you most dislike? 

I most dislike inconsiderate people, people who don’t consider what other people are going through. And just making the assumption that everybody’s like you or prefers the things that you enjoy. I very much dislike that. 

TS: What is your greatest regret? 

Greatest regret. Greatest regret. My greatest regret is not expanding my curriculum when I was in college. You know, taking a creative writing class or something that was out of my spectrum. Because a lot of my friends that did that ended up realizing, ‘hey, I really liked that,’ and then they ended up doing something within that specialty and actually joining something that they were passionate about, whether it was film or writing or what have you. I wish I wasn’t so narrow minded and just like, ‘I just want to finish college because I’m tired of doing homework. I’m tired of the whole school experience. I just want to work, I want to make money.’ And because of that, I really didn’t branch out. So that is a big regret of mine. So please remember that when you guys are in college and there’s that one class you’re like, ‘let me try it out,’ Please take a risk for sure.

It’s pretty simple: work hard and be kind. I feel like if I can do that,  I really did what I had to do.

— Gabriel Adame

TS: How would you like to die? 

I would like to die surrounded by loved ones, or just, like, immediately, like some crazy final destination scene where I’m pierced by a huge pipe, and I’m just gone. I don’t want to be in agony or thinking about it.

TS: What is your motto? 

It’s pretty simple: work hard and be kind. I feel like if I can do that, and if I can get students to do those two things, I really did what I had to do. I know that’s a very easy criteria for success, to work hard and be kind, and I hope to wear that daily.