I am

Self-portrait | Sabine Lepsius, 1885 | Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin | Berlin, Germany

Who am I?

I am a collection of random, quantifiable facts. I am short. I tan, not burn. My eyes are brown. I have a mole above my lip. My feet are small.

Then, I am my memories. The stories I tell myself over and over about myself. The malleable narratives I’ve kneaded over the years. I struggled at school. The other kids didn’t like me. I felt lonely and rejected, so I started rejecting everyone else before they got to reject me. I was angry. Maybe too angry.

Then, I am the picture I’ve painted of myself. Half true, half fiction. Hope for the future. I am a writer. I am a professional. I do things that writers do, like getting up early to write and share my work on social media and get over insecurities and self-censorship to publish my thoughts.

I am the dream I had the other night. I dreamed of an airplane that crashed on landing, setting buildings around the crash on fire. I dreamed of an ocean that swallowed a beach town. I’m always running from floods in my dreams—sometimes alone, sometimes with friends, sometimes with strangers.

But who am I, really? I’ve been thinking about that lately. It’s as if an earthquake razed my life. I’ve cleared up the rubble and I’m ready to rebuild, but all I have at the moment is the empty terrain.

Recently I got over my absolute hate of the word ‘atomic’ as an adjective and, as the good productivity junkie I am, decided to read ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear. He suggests our habits reflect our identity. For example, if you are a professional athlete, you’ll have a series of habits and behaviours consistent with professional athletes. You go out for a run at sunrise, take good care of your diet, and develop the discipline to practice every day. To become who you want to be, start by adopting habits consistent with that identity.

So, who am I? Who do I want to be? I guess half the fun is figuring it out.

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