Who do you think you are?


(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?

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12 Responses to Who do you think you are?

  1. Marie says:

    Hello! As someone with a lovely ‘Personality Disorder’ (thanks mum and dad) the problem of identity and who I really, really am is something that I battle with daily. On top of just generally being a noodle brain, I have also managed to flunk out of school, art college, didn’t go to uni and have made about three or four quite significant career changes in my (very nearly) 30 years. It’s nice to read someone else with the same thing on their mind, and not just who you are but how you are defined as a person. What ‘kind’ of a person. As it goes I describe myself as a bit mental. And an artist with a day job. I don’t know where I am going or what I am doing. I have responsibilities and that bit is scary. I have major problems with reality so I hear you on that one too. I’ve got no wise words for you, just liked reading what you wrote and I hope that even though you might not find out the answers you carry on being a cool dude(tte).

  2. Matt Ripper says:

    That sounds so familiar. I don’t really know who I am, either, but I do know that other people seem to and it’s the people I’m closest to and care about the most so that’s encouraging, I think.

  3. Jane says:

    Funny how all the things you say you’re not are some of the things that define you to me…. You are beautiful, quirky, clever, witty & rich in ways you don’t yet *get*…. but it’ll happen. I have spent most of my life thrashing around trying to decide what i wanted to be/do/be seen as & d’you know what? I realised that this quote from Mary Schmich & Baz Luhrmann….”Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.”….. Is about as true as true can be! I don’t care that at 45 I still haven’t defined who I am because that will only happen after I’m gone by those I’ve loved & affected.. So keep being open & honest, loving & funny and you’ll do fine!

  4. Erica says:

    I don’t think anyone younger than, say, 70, really can solidly identify who they are. And people who say they can generally are just reciting a bunch of nonsense that their paents/therapist/best friend told them. Thing is, we are not static beings. We are ever-changing, constantly reinventing ourselves based on what we’re exposed to and what we’ve experienced most recently. Sure, we all have traits and qualities that sit at our core, but those traits don’t define us because a lot of us (at least those of us who actually do self-reflect.) try to go against those engrained traits for time to time, either to rid ourselves of their chains, or just to see what happens. I say you are whoever and whatever you feel like being at any given moment.

  5. Anonymous Coward says:

    What an interesting post, thanks for this one.
    My opinion – the answer to the question of “who am I” depends on who you ask. I’m always amazed by the variety of ways that my friends consider me and how they would describe me. The persona I project to the outside world has changed over the years, and people who have known me for long enough will have seen common themes, but I am to them only what they see of me.

    Your post seems to be trying to avoid the issue that who you are is a result of what you do but I think that this is an unavoidable fact. Your physical apperance and actions define you to the outside world. To answer the question to yourself, you have to obeserve yourself as if you were a stranger.

  6. allthatglittersisglitter says:

    Hey Miss Crumpet…

    I really identified with this. I have no idea who I am or what defines me. I seem to be a never ending confusion of cultures, identities and talents. I know I want to be creative, but don’t know where to begin… I want to express myself but can’t do so unless I’m under pressure. I want something different from my life but I’ve no idea where to start. I’m so pleased that you wrote this, at least I know that I’m not the only one. I’ve never known how to express myself with clothes, my work or anything like that.

    I don’t know you, but I do follow you on twitter and can clearly see that you are awesomely clever, funny and talented. If you can take twitter as a snapshot of yourself and your personality, then you might want to know that that comes across.

    Now where’s my damned brew? 🙂

    Helen xx

  7. elizadolally says:

    I think most people struggle with their identity to some degree. Most of us aren’t doing the thing that we’d like to do or that we thought would define us all those years ago. I think this is an incredibly brave post and I can identify with a lot of what you’re saying. If I had to describe you as one defining characteristic it would be as a creative. And a lovely one at that. x

  8. Season says:

    I would simply describe you as ‘BLBLBLBLBL’ xxx

  9. reverend studebaker says:

    good post. it begs the question, why do we all care so much about defining ourselves? we are who we are for multiple reasons, environment, beliefs, experiences, education, drunken activities. and, given that we live in an ever changing world, these will always continue to mold us. they will remove parts of us that we considered sacrosanct, they will add things to ourselves in ways we never considered possible. we should cease worrying about how to describe who we are or, and more importantly, about how other people perceive us and just think ‘fuck it! today i will be the nicest possible person in the world. tomorrow i may be a complete and utter cunt, but for today your luck’s in.’

    we are malleable beings, screw definition, fuck rigidity, do whatever you want to do. be whoever you want to be. we all love you for the maladjusted little freak that you are, that we all are.

    keep on changing. sticking to one strictly defined image of the self will only ever hold you back.


  10. bah, how have i only just seen/read this? oh yeah, it was when i was away and WITHOUT INTERNET……..anyway, a very interesting/thought-provoking read, as ever…i’m 35 and i’m still not sure who i am or where i’m going, despite having been in the same job for just over 17 years, just re-mortgaged to buy a massive house all by myself (EEK) and generally viewed as “settled” compared to many of my acquaintances – i think it is a good thing is to have friends of all different kinds/locations with whom you can mix n match your thoughts/interests/moods etc, then you have/get a good cross-section of opinions as to what people think of you and how people see you.
    BUT….. i think that this can then make it harder for us to come to any concise definition of ourselves, as we all do act differently depending upon who we are interacting with, increasingly so now that we have internet/phone/email etc to reach anyone anywhere in the world. i know for a fact that the “me” on say, facebook is different to the “me” who tweets and both of them are vastly different to the “me” who is an accountant with a ton of letters after her name. We do however all like banoffee pie VERY much ;-D

  11. Gosh, this is me, too. I feel exactly the same; maybe even with stronger self-doubt, and at the very least with a stronger sense of panic. Who am I?

    I have no deeper comment to add, really. But isn’t it amazing that every comment here by every different person is essentially saying the same?

    I think that says everything we need to know, Crumpet. None of us know who we are. So we all just muddle along together, writing blogs (and commenting on them). Not too shabby.

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