I have been meaning to join KiKi & Tea as a contributor since the website was founded but one thing stopped me: share a little biographical information. I just sat there, staring at the blank field as if it was a semi-trailer hurtling toward me and I the deer; about to be squished. Who am I? It should be the easiest question to answer; all it requires if for me to know myself. And I know myself better than anyone else. And yet I can’t write a twenty word bio of myself that I am satisfied with.
Every time I try to start with the basics, Occupation? Uhh I don’t really have one at the moment. I guess I could say writer but that implies that someone actually pays me for words and they don’t. Explaining that I have spent the years since high school pursuing my dream of writing a novel and getting two degrees seems to be too many words. I could say receptionist as that was the last thing I did for money but that doesn’t really define me. So, moving on, next question.
I could spout facts about myself: I was born in New Zealand but was only there for five days, I get sunburnt really easily, I have a Masters of Arts in Creative Writing. My shoe size is somewhere in between a ladies 8 ½ and 9. My hair is naturally brown, my nails are oddly sharp. I am a night owl, my room is messy, I don’t like oreos or other cream filled biscuits, I really like carrots as long as they are raw. But my physical description and personal preferences don’t really provide all that much insight as to who I really am.
In order to give myself some direction I went and read what other people had written. That was a bit like going to someone else to tell you what your childhood was like. One thing I noticed though was that a lot of people defined themselves by their relationships (wife/mother etc). I like the idea of being defined by what you are to people closest to you. So what am I? I am daughter, well that’s a pretty weird thing to describe yourself as, seeing as most people would have to assume that being human and female (as I assure you I am) I would have to be someone’s daughter, it’s a bit of a default setting. Describing myself as a friend is also a bit strange, implying that I am such a social pariah I have to state that I have friends. Pet owner? It’s getting progressively weirder. So, no relationship descriptions. Next topic.
How about my interests? Writing, maybe I should list some more… The problem with that is I worry that I will be pigeon holed by whatever I say. If I say that I am interested in fashion people might assume that I am shallow and stuck-up, like Emily from The Devil Wears Prada, or nearly any other media depiction of someone who is interested in fashion. Worse still they might expect me to look like a model and be horribly shocked when they meet me and I’m wearing daggy jeans, a curry stained T-Shirt and absolutely no make up.
If I say I am interested in photography and art people will expect me to either be actually good at those things or one of those pretentious people who think making an image black and white automatically makes me arty.
If I say I like food then people might expect me to be able to cook and then be surprised that I am a vegetarian. If I say that I’m a vegetarian will people think that I am a hemp-wearing, tofu-eating, dirty-footed hippie or a self-righteous vegan who won’t wear wool or leather? (Not that I think there is anything wrong with any of those things, it’s just not who I am.)
If I said I was shy or an introvert would people be surprised when I had no problem with public speaking? Or when I said that a week completely on my own sent me a little bit mad.
I’d really like to be able to proudly describe myself as a Christian or an Adventist but that just comes with so much baggage on what opinions I should have, and would it deny the fact that I am quite the cynic? Mostly I’m afraid that it would imply that I am sitting on my uncomfortable pew judging and condemning everyone, or that I hate logic and rationality. Not that I would ever assume that myself, I just don’t want to identify with the negative connotations that some people have with those words.
And don’t get me started on what you might assume if I identified myself as a feminist.
I have always had difficulty with definitions. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because I am afraid that if I pinned myself down to a definition then I would be normal and not the unique and eccentric person I fancy myself to be. But I think it’s more than that. I feel that as soon as I say I am one thing I’d be saying I wasn’t something else and what if I turned out to be that too? If I say I am girly because I like pretty things I feel like I’m denying my slightly more masculine traits, like my dislike of houses that value aesthetics over utility. I feel like definition is a wall I would build around myself and then be trapped in it. The wall wouldn’t allow me any movement to change or grow. I feel like I have to continue to be what I claim to be.
I know some people would say that I’m over-thinking the whole thing (to be honest I am an over-thinker, that much is fact) and that if I feel that those things identify who I am then I shouldn’t worry about what other people might think. But it’s not the conclusions some people may come to that worry me in themselves, it’s that they might form an idea of me and that idea would be wrong. I’m afraid of misrepresenting myself; I’m afraid of not being genuine. Authenticity is what I value the most in myself.
So this is the best I could do at describing who I am:
I am a writer, in that I would keep writing even if no one ever read what I wrote. I am a dreamer and am attempting to follow the dreams with the support of my terrific family. I have faith in the blunt face of my own scepticism. I like pretty shoes, but also sitting around in my pyjamas. Ingrained discrimination to sex, sexuality, religion or race really upsets me. I don’t like eating anything that had a face but I really like cheese and natural fabrics. I like to indulge myself creatively in a visual capacity but I’m usually disappointed with the results. And I hope that one day I may turn out to be the strange creative genius I thought I was as a child. But all of this is liable to change without notice.
Oh and my about me blurb at the bottom? I made my sister write that.
Do you have trouble articulating who you are? Do you find definitions limiting? Do you value authenticity?