On being your true self
I take close attention to the first thing new people say to me.
“What do you do?” is usually the go to question, and whenever I hear that, I bristle. What do I do? I sleep. I eat. I shower. I consider it a great day if I manage to fit work, exercise and an episode of Jeopardy in during a weekday. From those discrete facts, I sound like a pretty boring person. I like to think I’m not.
It’s no fault of the asker, or (I hope) of my own, but the way we perceive identity. What if I could, someday, ask a stranger, “Who are you?” without getting a drink thrown in my face?
Think about the answer to that question. You probably don’t have an immediate answer; or if you do, it’s one that’s similar to the answer to “What do you do?”
It’s important to know the answer to that question, because at the end of the day, that outside stuff can change at any moment. Your livelihood, your closest family and friends, your immediate surroundings, your opinion; these are fickle, fluid assets.
What are you, who are you when to-do lists are swept away, when your duties erased? The sooner you name what makes you, the better off you’ll be.
Someone once told me that the only true beauty in this world was when someone fully expressed what they were. And it’s not just if your immediate world changes around you - it’s when - if you don’t know and remember and point to the different colored lights of your inner composition, you face darkness. And even now, I know that not knowing - or at least aggressively trying to describe - those lights leads to misinformed decisions and wasted time.
So who am I? Here’s what I have so far. Hear me roar:
I am relentless.
I don’t give up easily. If I want something, I’ll do it. Really, I will.You can also call this stubbornness.
I am, alone.
Though I test as extrovert, I have a frank disbelief in other human beings. I have never been cool. I was a sick child that felt more comfortable around older people than my peers.
I have no pack of girlfriends with distinct archetypes, a la Sex and the City. I am a bit of a loner, and I understand that. I embrace it. I go to the movies alone, I write alone, I eat alone - I take ownership of my own destiny and experiences. And I like it.
I give, and always expect.
I am a giver. In friendships, I am the one that brings you soup when you are sick. I am the one who remembers your name.
On the few instances I care, I care immensely. And when I choose to care, I expect the same to be returned to me.
If you’re not giving something you’re involved with everything you have inside of you, what’s the point? Why even be here? Everything - absolutely everything - is a choice.
I don’t know how to live without making things. Baking tarts, writing in notebooks - these are my footsteps in the universe and I must make them.
OK, great. Now how do I find out who I am?
Go out into the world. Feel some pain. Take notice when an experience fills you with light and connects you to a sense of something that is larger than yourself.
Add up all the idiosyncrasies and read through them. Finding out on a painful Saturday morning that you absolutely can’t share someone is a good indicator that you’re a giver that expects reciprocation.
The prospect of possibly going into a career path of just number crunching or closet arranging screams that you cannot live without creating.
Who you are is more than your disposition; it’s your composition.
I hope you find what you are made of, and therefore who you are - and fully realize yourself before you are forced to by circumstance.