Monday, August 26, 2013

Conundrums: The Definition of Self

Shh. I know there's a hole in my sock; thanks to Luna Petunia.

My friend and Wicked Witch, Magaly over at Pagan Culture wrote a post over the weekend entitled What Defines You? In it she asks:
"What defines you? What kisses your brain when you think about what makes you who you are?"

And answers for herself by stating:
When I think about my identity, the first things that come to mind are Witch, Marine, sex, Dominican, Caribbean, family, writing, Nature, dancing, helping, running… Material possessions and status don’t really cross my mind all that often.

Which more or less, dead on sums up how I'd define her as well. I'd add a few more to the list myself, but as her post and her questions weren't about how others define you, it's sort of irrelevant. (Laughter, Words and Clever, because I know it'd drive her crazy not to know. ^_~)

At first, I was going to comment on her blog post directly. I had the comment box open, the cursor was blinking at me and I froze. Because at the moment my fingers touched keys, my brain was of two minds: One which said "You can't really define yourself" and the other shouting out a list of adjectives and nouns. It gave me pause, because as I mentioned a few months ago I've been doing some serious thinking and attempting to reconcile what I expect of myself as a 30 something (heavily influenced by adults I grew up with as well as societal standards) with who I actually am. That assumption that everyone in their 30's has sorted themselves and their dreams out and is on the straight path to their goals is, quite honestly, bullshit.

At least in my case and the cases of many 30 somethings that I'm close to. And so definition of the self is a tougher thing than usual for someone who has always been labeled with contradictory, or at least not quite complimentary, labels.

After all, what self respecting tom boy has random days (or weeks or months) where they go completely batshit crazy over having amazing nails and fabulous eyeshadow in a plethora of perfectly blended rainbow colors?

This one.

What sort of self respecting grown up sits around pondering the possibilities of bleaching their hair to dye it crazy colors, knot it up in to dreadlocks and adorn it with feathers and crazy wooden beads while perusing Goth fashions and listening to metal?

This one.

I'm a hodgepodge of things, an amalgamation that some people don't understand and so feel the need to question. When I was younger, these questions bothered me quite a bit. Being told that I wasn't "enough" of something or else "too much" of something else to claim a title or be part of a group made me self conscious and lonely. I'd be lying if I said those things didn't still bother me to some extent as an adult, because they sometimes do. The Eco crowd gives me guilt for not tossing away every plastic item in my house or using *gasp* bleach on occasion, the Metal crowd gives me shit for enjoying ska, indie and pop music (you can pry my Britney Spears albums from my cold, dead hands), the Pagan crowd accuses me of being "too fluffy", "too eclectic", "too mean" (because I use animal bones and skins and don't follow the Wiccan Rede ... I'm not a Wiccan.), the art crowd complains that my art is too simple, too niche, too airy fairy, etc., the nerds don't like that I don't like Star Trek and the Tom Boys and the Super Girly Girls won't let me hang out with either group because I'm not butch or glam enough for either of them. And sometimes, that sucks. Because it's nice to feel like you belong, like you have a Tribe and that you've got a bunch of like minded folks to talk to about your interests without boring them to tears.

But it's mostly ok, because that's just who I am. I'm simply Danni and I can change and grow and redefine myself as often or infrequently as I like. My drummer beats a tune that only I can dance to and while I sometimes stumble or fall in to the pit of over-thinking, my integrity and loyalty towards myself remains in tact. I've never fit in to a neat little box and I don't ever intend to. One of my very first memories was my first day of Kindergarten; we were lined up in the hallway outside of our classroom and another girl bluntly told me she could never be friends with me because my socks didn't match. We never did become friends and that's O.K.

Because, twenty five years later, my socks still don't match.

P.S. The words that sprang to mind when asked to define myself are: artist, witch, nature, loyalty, tree hugger, big kid, geek, wife, sister, woman, bookworm, worrywort.


  1. Your definition of self and Rommy's might be my favorites. They both suggests that identity is about choices. At 36, I'm not the woman I used to be at 21 and like Rommy said, if the 13-year-old Magaly got a chance to talk to me today... Oh goodness! Someone would end up with something broken (the adult me, for sure).

    I think we claim our identity when we can look in the mirror (or write a post ;-) and say: I'm me. "I can change and grow and redefine myself as often or infrequently as I like."

    P.S. You were right, it would have driven me nuts!

  2. I followed Magaly here, and now (after reading your post) I have to follow you. Because you're obviously awesome. That should be on your list.

    1. Thanks, Katy! Now that you mention it, I am pretty darn awesome! ;)

      Glad to meet you and hope you continue to like what you read. :D

  3. Good post! As Humans we feel the need to label & to be a part of a Tribe. But we must be careful not to let either totally define us. We are constantly changing and evolving. As I've gotten older I have found that my need to 'belong' is not as strong as it once was. And very few labels have stayed the same over the years. May you always find happiness no matter where (or who) you are in Life!

  4. Great post! I believe we define ourselves and redefine ourselves every moment. We are always changing. I think I have a problem remembering is that in the middle of each moment, I have the option making different choices if I don't like what is going on.

    As a middle aged person, I have huge difficulty with people who decide they think they know me, or decide to label me, or make assumptions about me. I find it suffocating, oppressive, mundane... what is the opposite of creativity??? AH yes, destructive. I run, walk and swim away now without hesitation or question.

    May you never fit into any box!


  5. I'm glad you linked to this post so I could find it! We are so similar - I see me in all that you've said, but I have a few years on you. I always felt 40 was the "all together" years, and I'm happy to be correct (at least, for me.). By the time 38 came around I was pretty much done giving a shit about what anyone else thought I should be doing/being.

    I love your describing words, and Magaly's too. You awesome chicks inspire me!


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