The first-person point of view is actually told like a diary entry, a personal narrative, or a running annotation of the first person’s thoughts. The reader does not see this character from the outside but only through the character’s eyes which have access to thoughts and feelings.
There’s a danger to watch out for, though: filter words.
Filter words put distance between the reader and your first-person character, filtering that character’s encounter. Let’s look at an example to get a better sense:
This was magic school? I stood and stared at it; I thought it seemed to be set up to depress us. I saw the green hill rising from the earth like some cancer, and I could hear the voices of students on the wind, chanting soullessly, as if the wonder and awe of true magic had been whitewashed from their lives.
Not sure what to look for in the paragraph? Here it is with the filter words removed.
This was magic school? It seemed to be set up to depress us. The green hill rose from the earth like some cancer, and the voices of students carried on the wind, chanting soullessly as if the wonder and awe of true magic had been whitewashed from their lives.
What was removed? I thought, I saw, I could hear. In other words, the words that were removed were anything that had you, the reader, looking at her looking at things, rather than looking at the things she saw.
This is the true first-person: being behind the character’s eyes. I have to say in my First Draft, it is riddled with these filters. I have more words to delete.