I know not who I am.
At least, I don’t think I know.
This was born in on me in by conflation of several things in the last few days. First, my friend posted a note about her own self-perceptions. And then I had a long discussion with my mom about Art and Romance and finding one’s purpose. And then I watched “Lady in the Water.”
That last one hit me the gut with several calmly spoken lines like “This is the moral of the bedtime story: no one is ever told who they are in a story.”
And it struck me that I still prefer to think of myself as an awkward teenager. Or sometimes even a five-year old. These tend to be safer images, surrounded by carefree sunshine or simply an ability to rely on those around me.
But in reality, I am a graduate student living on my own. I am learning how to be a real adult.
But I am not sure what that entails.
I like to be free to spend my time however I like. I love going to classes. I enjoy dipping my fries in my milkshake. I know how to change the oil in my car, even if I do not like to do it myself.
Does say anything about who I am? I would like to think so.
One of the current fads of psychology that really bothers me is the tendency to separate a person from their affects; saying, “what you did was bad, but that doesn’t make you a bad person.” While giving hope and ‘good’ self-vision is nice, it dilutes the fact that what you do is an expression of who you are.
You can tell a lot about a person by how they appear: if she is clean, friendly, organized, etc. At the very least, you can tell how the person wants to appear. And the same goes for actions.
I know that my room mate very much likes to have a spik-n-span house because she cleans in depth every other day.
(I only clean when things look dirty.)
I know that my brother has self control because he saves his Easter candy and doesn’t finish it until sometime around July.
(My Easter candy is gone in a week.)
The “outer me” is still a part of the “real me,” not matter how hard I try to separate the two. I am formed by what I pretend to be, just as I am by the society around me.
As Terry Pratchett says in Men At Arms, “Individuals aren’t naturally paid-up members of the human race, except biologically. They need to be bounced around by the Brownian motion of society, which is a mechanism by which human beings constantly remind one another that they are . . . well . . . human beings.”
Are we also formed a bit by our names? Have you ever noticed that people with the same name tend to share certain characteristics? For instance, Bens are rather different and quirky in some fashion. Emilys have generally sweet but firm dispositions, and are usually rather popular. And Kates are very different from Katies.
So what does your name say about you?
Most of my siblings have cool name-meanings, like “Beautiful,” “Full of Grace,” “Bold Protector,” “Elf Army”.
My name? It means “Harvester”.
Whether it is coincidence or fate, this does seem to describe me. I prefer the reaping to than the sowing, (I have difficulty in starting things but usually finish well,) I bask in Autumn colors and scents, and I am usually on hand to be the final step in a friend’s conversion, recovery, or victory.
Or maybe it is just my imagination.
But my point was: If I pretend that I am a mature and reasonable adult, sooner or later it will come true. Posturing might be pretending, but it will have an effect on me. if I pay all my bills, take the initiative in starting friendships, act with grace and confidence, and take each moment as it comes, that will eventually show me who I am.