It’s funny how we answer the question of who we are with an answer of what we do.
I’ll never forget the well-educated guy at a party late last year, who shook the hand of the man beside me, kissed the cheek of the lady, and did not so much as nod in my direction. He was standing right next to me.
Of course, I could only guess at the reason behind this. But since I was not abnormally dressed, was well-enough mannered, clean, sober, and had filed down my fangs, my only assumption is that I didn’t “fit” the circle he identified himself with.
Or at least, he thought I didn’t.
You see, when introductions were made I skipped past the bit where I try to impress, because I find it all a bit boring. I’m not interested in proving myself as “somebody”. I was born somebody, as were you.
Sure, I could have mentioned the bits of paper I’ve accumulated over the years, the university degrees or the jobs I’ve had, and perhaps he’d have seen me as a little more worthy of his time. But my bits of paper or career-choices don’t define who I am.
For me, it’s been my experiences which have shaped my life, and the career path I’ve chosen—which pays modestly but I enjoy immensely—is just a tiny piece of the puzzle.
Who are we trying to fool? A bus driver can be ten times the calibre of an “esteemed” member of the community such as a doctor or lawyer. Often happier, too—and what’s the point of life if you’re not happy?
Being concerned with who you’re seen with and how high up the social hierarchy you sit is not logical. In 100 years, we will all be forgotten, so no point in worrying too much about
illusionary nonsense like image or status. At least, not in my world.
It reminds me of a quote from Thomas Merton: “And I wind experiences around myself and cover myself with pleasures and glory like bandages in order to make myself perceptible to myself and to the world, as if I were an invisible body that could only become visible when something visible covered its surface.”
I’ve met a few people with a lot of bandages.
In my case—and I assume it’s the same for most people—it hasn’t been career choices that have shaped me most, but relationships. Whether it’s family, friendships or the romantic kind, my decisions about how to live (or how not to live) have stemmed from these experiences, to the extent I can’t even relate to the person I was six months ago, let alone a few years back.
I have a theory that instead of getting people to introduce themselves with what they do, we should ask them questions like: what’s your favourite colour? What was your earliest memory? Your favourite book? What makes you feel most alive? Or, how about, what
relationships have significantly impacted your life and made you who you are?
So, let me introduce myself: I am the colour purple; a fat toddler in a cloth nappy on the outdoor swing; A Fortunate Life by Albert Facey; beautiful, passionate heart-driven people; two heartbreaks, one case of temporary insanity, a disappointment and one
Pleased to meet you!