Who I am

who-am-iI tend to make old mistakes, again and again. Sometimes I think it’s because they are less scary than making new ones. One of them is trying to find out ‘who I am’.

I try to blend in with the culture I blame for my twisted thoughts, my presumptions, my obsessions. Like a chameleon I change my dress sense every time I change environment; nonchalant, hippie, sexy, feminine, outdoorsy, there is no end. And none of them are me, yet all of them are. Who am I? How do I dress/behave/feel to express my original self? Who even cares besides me?

I have my coffees in cafes that allow my laptop as a canvas for my futile attempts to poetry and thought trains that go in circles. No one really needs to read my verbal excretions, but god I do need to get it out of my system. But when I try to be a writer, a poet I fail. ‘what would I have to do, what should the quality be for me to BE this thing?’ When can I honestly say to people ‘yes, I write’. The question itself castrates me, and everything I’m trying to verbalise freezes into other people’s words and writing styles. I get stuck in writing the thing I think you might want to read. I get stuck in trying to portray myself as smart, clever, sympathetic, strong, optimistic, all-knowing.

I’ve had many jobs and job-titles, have moved around in different cities, different countries and never found myself in any of them. I think I wanted to be something/someone but could never find the right setting to become that person. I looked for other settings, without really knowing what it was that I wanted to be. ‘If If find the right setting, will I then automatically and finally become ‘me’?’

So there is the old questions: ‘Who am I, who do I want to be?’. And I’m growing to dislike this question because the answer is always going to be crap. I don’t want to be a manager or an employee of the month,  not a lady or a rebel, not a servant or a mistress, not promiscuous or a saint. And at the same time I want to be all of these things every now and then. But why should I aspire to be things I can define myself by with just one word?

If I NEED to define myself as something, in order for me to know how I am supposed to behave, what does this mean if I become sick, or poor or depressed. If this means that I can only be one or two things at a time (and include the appropriate behaviour) it could then mean that my whole being could be defined as sick, poor or depressed. I think this would not be helpful in any way.  I think a better alternative to this would be to perceive myself as a (complex, ever-developing, emotional) person and maybe suffer from these things every now and then.

If I feel like I need to behave a certain way because I decided that this definition is ‘me’, I am restricting myself and my creativity starves. It means I can never write a thought unless it makes for good reading. It means I cannot behave in a way that is going to provoke change. Defining myself as something pacifies me and makes me feel that I have no choice but to behave as expected.

Maybe I’m already who I want to be, who I wanted to grow up as. I’m not a manager, or employee of the month, not a lady, a rebel, a servant or mistress, promiscuous or a saint. I’m not even a writer. Maybe I am merely capable of being these things with different amounts of success and satisfaction when I choose to be. Maybe I should stop searching for who or what I am and explore the things I’m capable of and enjoy being capable of. The things that are helpful, satisfying, and make me feel happy with what I’m doing. The most important thing about the outcome of my actions should be that it is helpful for me and my place in the world (incl. relationships, health etc) and not about whether I fit the definition I was trying to become.

My dad died 4 years ago today. I think he was searching his entire life for who he was or what he was supposed to be, and consequently became a person who did not enjoy his life, family and job. I think he only found the non-importance of this question, and started searching for the things that made him feel proud of his capabilities after we stopped speaking to each other almost 7 years ago. I think this year is the first time I can admit that I am glad that he did realise this eventually.

And I am sad that I missed it.

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  1. “I changed my hairstyle so many times now, I don’t know what I look like!”

  2. “Why stay in college? Why go to night school?
    Gonna be different this time?
    Can’t write a letter, can’t send a postcard
    I can’t write nothing at all”

    Thanks for the link, and for reading.

  3. Maureen Neaser

     /  January 26, 2013

    I cannot believe it is 4 years since your Dad died. I always looked forward to seeing him and having our discussions on family history. I guess that was part of his “search”. I have very fond memories of those times together when you all came to stay. I always think life is like a kaleidoscope – all the bits are there but they are constantly changing their position. For me Prosper, my own Dad,my brother Theo are still here – just hidden. I have conversations with them whenever I feel drawn to do so. It makes no difference if these are imaginings or delusions. Just as long as they give me comfort, that is all that matters. It seems you are very creative Judith and I love all the photos you put on Facebook so don’t spend too much time on wondering “Who you are” for, as fast as you think you have discovered the answer, you will change and become someone else. Just relax, keep positive and BE and I’m sure you will find life a truly amazing journey. xx

  4. Dear Maureen,

    Thank you so much for what you wrote, the memories I have of our visits to you are fond indeed, and I believe that these were times were where my dad enjoyed who he was most. I think there are a lot of things that I was unable to say to him, both positive and negative. It is difficult to want a dialogue but are not able to receive a response. Even an ‘I’m proud of you’ or ‘I’m sorry’. In a way way though, I guess I know him well enough to imagine a dialogue, as you might have with the people you have lost.
    I hope you are well and I hope to be able to see you sometime, as it has been too long.
    Thank you again… Much love xx


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