Had a conversation with a good friend today, and the chat went as follows:
Me: Sometimes I wish I were a man
Him: Sometimes I wish I were a wizard
Me: Sometimes I wish I were an animorph
Him: Sometimes…I wish I were myself.
This simple transition into the question of “Who am I?” startled me into a realization of…I really don’t know. That is, I am figuring it out, but it seems to be taking forever. I picture myself sandpapering out the rough bits of my personality and, keeping my shoulders straight because I’ve been working on my posture, walking around a crowded room with one of those little brown squares and scraping away at sharp spots or loose splinters.
We’re all in that spot, in one way or another. It’s normal, I think. More normal than hitting snooze five times and then rushing to get your shoes on as your friend beeps for you to come out, it’s time for school. More normal than screwing your nose up at the smell of mulch but then forgetting all about its healing and growth properties come summer when all your nose smells is the flowers and warm air. More normal than feeling a burst of rebellion as, when you head down the stairs to do the dishes on your own, you hear your mother telling you to go do them. More normal than making random lists of things to tell people in your mind, and forgetting to write them down and never getting to share it with them. It was more funny in the moment anyway.
Anyway. The spot. Where we all are. Who am I? Well, what would you answer if someone asked you the common question of, “Tell me about yourself?” Depending on the situation (possible job interview, new acquaintance, etc.), you would answer either professionally, comically, allegorically, spiritually, grammatically…but once you answer that question, you have begun to define yourself in specific terms, and thus have placed yourself within a fence. In a category. A label. Choosing the proper words can paint a picture to a complete stranger that you are someone you want to be, someone you know, someone you are, or are not. Answering confidently can assure your listener that you are who you say you are, when really you may not be; responding diffidently while uttering the complete and total truth may render your audience completely “unfooled” by your performance. Yes, yes, I’m sure you are a straight-A student at Yale, pull the other one.
Another question to ask yourself. Do you want to be labeled? The aforementioned friend once told me that he cannot be labeled, he is too many things at once. I jokingly responded, “Then that is who you are. You have labeled yourself by labeling yourself unlabeled.” Some people walk into a situation in order to create a specific impression of themselves in another’s eyes, to promote their own interests, to make a new friend, to woo a potential lover. Others create the impression simply by standing silently, or responding with quick wit to a comment, or proclaiming that they will attempt to write a blog post based off of a minute of conversation. Regardless of whether the impression created is wanted or not…that’s it. There is no going back. Because the human psyche and the history of person-to-person relationships indicates that we print up a sheet of paper in our minds that lists the person we see. Their qualities. Talents, aspirations. Looks, style, attitude. An instantaneous impression, formed by complete strangers, by close friends. Some get the chance to change that initial outlook. But that guy you pushed rudely on the train will immediately curse your shoulders and wish boils on you and your subsequent three generations.
I do tend to ramble, don’t I? Back to the beginning. I don’t know who I am. Yet. I would not ever be foolish enough to say that I am done growing and learning about the world around me and myself as a result. I would never say that I have reached my goals and now have nothing else to look forward to. I would never presume to think that I am perfect, or even close. But I can proudly admit to wanting to teach others and myself to open their eyes, to be willing to experience new things, to approach the question of “Who Am I?” without fear, but curiosity.
Who am I?
Not sure, yet. I’ll get back to you.