(Being brave and or stupid and posting this solo. Please don’t have me sectioned. Thanks.)
I found that last post where we listed the things that might have made us who we are really therapeutic. A lot of those things I hadn’t really thought about too clearly before, or considered the weight and significance they had in shaping me.
I’ve spent most of my post-pubescent life thinking about identity, sense of self etc; stumbling from art project to art project, through existential crises, swinging from unbridled confidence to muddy ditches full of self loathing and doubt in the blink of a teary eye. And it doesn’t go away. Especially since making that list.
(We’ve covered a lot of these things before but you’re not the boss of the blog so shut up and take it)
Who am I?
I’m definitely not a “you are what you do” nor a “you do what you are” person. Because I only ever got this job as a stop-gap. Despite still being here 3 years on and actually not minding it, generally, I’m definitely NOT a “workswitholdbuildings answersthephone talksaboutvictoriantownplanners”. Because that’s not a thing you can be, like a doctor or a teacher or a taxi driver or a writer. So I’m not my job. Even my OTHER job, despite the fact that I like it because it’s writing and it gives me enough money to just about live (on gin).
I’m not defined by what I wear. That’s a given, if you’ve ever seen me in real life. Most of my clothes are red, and old, though, which I like, and is a “me” thing, it seems. Although I do like how people can appropriately identify things I would love. So THEY must know who I am, a little bit.
I don’t have a Significant Other, or children, or pets, so I’m not defined by belonging to any sort of relationship type thing like that. I’m not defined as A Single Person, though, really, like a spinster with cats and crying about loneliness or anything (BECAUSE MY CAT DIED DIDN’T SHE).
As a teenager I struggled with feeling like myself, because myself liked bands and the 1970’s and David Hockney and photography and collecting things and no body really understood those things (because no body DOES understand you when you’re 15). This was when it seems my obsession with ‘identity’ started, and every piece of artwork I made for about the next 5 years ended up being about my self, or the idea of self. I studied my family history. Music history. Ideas of feminism. I even made a clay sculpture of a Barbie holding a sword which my short-haired Camden-dwelling hemp-wearing art teacher assured me said EVERYTHING about what I feel it is to be a woman (it didn’t. I copied it from a poster I saw in a PlayStation magazine). At art college I shoved people in to photo booths and told them to “be them”. My foundation year exhibition was basically passport photos of me looking sad and confused, with lists of stuff I like photocopied over and over again (passed with flying colours, obv. TOP TIP – Art tutors LOVE photocopied stuff).
This isn’t about feeling lost and wailing “I don’t know who I am any more”. It’s more like I don’t think I’ve ever really known. I’ve had times where I’ve sat in my room surrounded by all the weird shit I own, looking at what I’m wearing, and thinking – hah – I think I’m the person I always hoped I’d be when I grew up. But I don’t know if that’s right or not. I don’t ever remember sitting down at 15 and thinking I’d have no career, a crumbling and difficult relationship with my family, a complete inability to correctly identify/deal with/process romantical feelings, an identified problem with co-dependancy, an impossible-to-describe taste in music and or films, regrets, or a wardrobe full of quite silly and generally ill-fitting clothes and shoes. I have a problem with reality, too. I have vivid dreams that confuse me and leak in to my actual memories and make me sad about things that actually haven’t happened in real life. I sit on the bus and take a theme from something mentioned in a text message and my imagination gets so carried away with it that I end up with the oddest look on my face because I’ve ended up half acting out a completely fictional or hypothetical situation.
In a recent conversation I agreed with someone that you “really find yourself in your 20’s” – and agreed – but it’s more like I was able to just identify the things I like, don’t like, want, need, enjoy… those things don’t describe who *I* am.
Panda wanted us to write about what we are scared off and I said I didn’t want to do that because I wasn’t ready to think about those things without a qualified professional present. Maybe this is it though, anyway?
I have no idea who I am. How do you describe yourself? I like learning, and I know stuff about weird things, but I’m no intellectual. I’ve only ever studied creative subjects, so I’m no academic. I like books, but I’m not well read. I like writing, but I’m no writer, really. I take about 20 photos a day, and despite having a degree in photography, I’m no photographer. I’m not A Rich Person. I’m not A Beautiful Person. I’m not A Clever Person. Does anyone really know what or who they are? Do you know what you are? How do you describe yourself?