I remember my first high school reunion. I went for the same reason I went to the prom, because I didn’t want to look back with regret at having not done it. It’s not a particularly great reason, but it got me there. The reunion, more than prom, involved a serious self pep-talk. I had to overcome the obstacle of knowing almost none (code for “only one”) of my high school pals were going to be there, and I would be stuck going alone and possibly being stuck in a corner. You see it turns out I wasn’t particularly popular. (SURPRISING!) In fact, I’m pretty sure I made it through four years without really being noticed outside of the band of outcasts/misfits I called my friends. (True story – they were the coolest/smartest people in the entire school.) Plus, I’m not someone who is particularly gregarious or charming outside of my gang. Still, I wanted to take one for the team so I could amuse them later with stories. And let’s face it, I was curious to see how some of these people turned out. Maybe one of them was actually more interesting as an adult. The night held possibilities. I admit I did have a back-up plan in case things went south. My college friends were on standby ready to swoop down to 6th Street (Austin’s answer to Bourbon Street) to rescue me. Remember, it’s important to always have a Plan B. I’m fairly certain you learn this in Girl Scouts along with how to sit properly in a car.
When I got there the bar was aflutter with conversation that mostly boiled down to: “Are you married? Do you have any children? What line of work are you in? Do you have a business card?” It was a creepy contest of “who is having the best life” that I’m pretty sure I failed. I wasn’t married. I didn’t have kids and more importantly, I didn’t have a card. However, by the time I left the bar I did manage to walk out with several and by the time I made it to the car, I had none.
While those cards didn’t tell me who those people were, I suppose they told me a little about what they thought was important and how they defined themselves. Things like being married, having kids and a card are very important. Anything outside of that, which maybe couldn’t be printed on a card, weren’t so much.
I was reminded of this event when I read a fellow blogger’s post inviting readers to fill in the statement “I am a ____” and then the author proceeded to make her own list of who they are. It was a beautiful and insightful list that really gave you an idea about who she is and how she sees herself. I felt I knew her better than many people I’ve known through the years from school or work with just a few brief statements. The comments that followed were just as fantastic. Many accepted that challenge and wrote from their hearts casting off the typical societal expectations that dictate we stick to status (whether that’s status within our family, our job or our community). I realized this was the thing I was missing from the reunions (other than people with souls) and other encounters with friends who fill in details with a rehearsed answer. They answer to impress or in a way that they think you want to hear, trying to figure out what you think is important, and never getting to the heart of who they really are. Sometimes that’s all I need, but sometimes I really want to see them. Plus, it spoke to me because I simply don’t see myself as just my job or any title I may hold in my family.
I responded to her post as well. I wrote all the words I keep in my heart that I rarely share with others. I wrote words that represented how I see myself. Even if I can’t do all the things I mentioned well anymore; they’re still a part of who I am. When I hit the submit button it was like sending a balloon to God (to borrow my friend April’s phrase) or pressing a secret wish into Marie Laveau’s Wishing Stump where I once tucked away my wishes years ago.
I am a… musician, a dancer, singer and an improviser. I’m the thunder heralding the storm and the light breeze whispering through the field. I’m a listener, a watcher, a dreamer and a Texan. I think there’s some clause on my birth certificate that requires me to say that last bit.
… and while that’s not the complete list of how I see myself, it’s a start.
Who are you?