Who am I?
This is easy to answer on the surface. I’m a woman. I’m a first generation Polish American. I was raised Catholic. I have liberal points of view. I’m a romantic dreamer with a contradictory streak for being practical. At your baby shower, while others bought you the cute tiny pair of shoes that will be worn for one week, I probably gave you a basket of onesies in different sizes and a handful of books. For your wedding, I probably gave you kitchenware. I save the precious gifts for birthdays, for all other occasions something useful but thought out carefully- most of the time anyway. I’m sure I get that from my mother, a subconscious blueprint that got traced onto me.
We all could, on the quick, rattle off some defining things about ourselves but if we dig deeper we see from where or from whom these things were transferred. The older I get the more conscious I am of how I have been shaped. Growing up bi-cultural and bilingual surely fueled my desire to travel abroad. And probably had something to do with feeling at home and unafraid when I left for Eritrea, Africa at age 22. We either absorb our influences or repel against them. I enjoy leisure time more than my mom because I grew up seeing her work too hard – an observation that also creates an imprint, just in reverse.
I’m currently taking a Memoir Intensive workshop and am deep in thought with this question as I work on the structure of my book. Hence the short post this week- so much work to do, not enough time!
As a writer, whether I like it or not, I have to create myself as a character so that I can accurately answer- Who am I? Perhaps this is the shortest question with the longest answer in the world. For everyone.
Every character is dynamic- there are no absolute villains, no total angels, even God is complex. To write about yourself means to not only show your best side, but the shadowy dark self too. It also means you have to ask yourself…who was I before and who have I become? To know that, you’ve got to look at your blueprint, the big ole map of your life. Some of it’s written in invisible ink.
I’m looking at my floor plan and I keep pulling up planks.
I’m finding the most interesting things.