Monday, March 10, 2008

Under "me" in the dictionary, you'd find...

Most of the time I look at myself in the mirror, not recognizing the girl I've become. I'm young. A lot has changed in my short life in the last couple of years. I've let go of a lot in the last couple of years.

The problem is, that I'm not sure I ever knew who I was. I existed, and I was...but I wasn't in touch with that. There were points in time when I believed I was whole heartedly connected to me. Those points were linked together by periods of chaos and tumult. And for the most part, the things that made up who I was were all set in motion by myself and the thought that the person I was should take that action. After all, certain types of people take certain roads. Or so I thought.

I'm most likely being a little confusing. Let me explain.

In high school I was torn apart by two juxtaposing sides. I was a cheerleader on one hand. I'd tried out all through middle school and never made the squad. I persevered though, and when I auditioned for the high school varsity's squad at the end of eighth grade, I made it. Suddenly all the girls that either hadn't noticed me, or that had noticed me but didn't like me anyway, became my friends. I was popular. Later on in high school I had friends admit to me that they thought I'd actually moved to town in ninth grade. They didn't realize I'd lived in that town for three previous years. Apparently I meant nothing until I was a for a while, that was who I was. But not really. I was still generally the odd one out when it came to the social arena. I was a hanger-on...only included by association.

When I decided to show a bit more of another person I thought I was, I quit the cheerleading squad. After all, a punker can't be a cheerleader. It doesn't fit, right? I told everyone I was quitting cheerleading after two years because I'd earned my letterman jacket already. The truth was that I was trying to make myself fit into a specific mold. High school continued on. I varnished my perfect cheerleader persona. I suppose I was still popular, in a way. I was still on the outer rim of the it-clique. I think I was held there mostly by sick curiosity. All the kiddies wanted to see what strange thing I'd wear or crazy thing would come out of my mouth next. Some of my teachers hated who I was...and some loved me for it. I loved me for it. But behind the curtains and black eyeliner was a very chaotic family life. My childhood had not been picturesque, and my teen years weren't shaping up as Rockwellian either. Most people didn't see that though. They saw the self portrait I'd painted for the rest of the world. They didn't get to see me go home and cry every night. They didn't know that my best friend and I had some sort of strange anorexic pact going. They don't know the true story of what happened when I was raped at 16. They saw black clothing, a need to be different and a girl who either intrigued or repulsed them.

During that time, I thought of myself as an artist. I'd continue to do that for the longest time. I was president of the art club in high school, and had two art classes per day my senior year. It shouldn't be surprising that I chose to go to art school...that was who I was. Right? In art school I eventually met my husband...and my life started to change again. I was in a very dark period when my husband met me. He pulled me straight out. He wasn't a boy I'd thought to be my "type," and for the first time, I let myself go against what type I thought I was.

So here I am, only a few years down the road from all of that. High school wasn't that long ago. That person I was then isn't that far away. And somewhere along the road, I've managed to dump every single scrap of self I accumulated along the way. I'm a stay at home mom now. I'm a Democratic delegate. I'm the assistant organizer of a play group. I'm active in a church. I no longer paint. I no longer wear the coats of black eyeliner that I thought were such a badge of courage. But those things and so many others were a part of me for so long, that now that they're not I'm having a hard time defining me. Maybe it's part of growing up. Who knows. I still wonder what I'll be when I grow up.

I just wonder why I have such an urge to define myself as anything. Why do I feel like living without boundaries or definitions is so hard? For some reason, I just don't feel secure without lines to color in. I don't know why. Do you? Or are you one of those people who baulk definitions?


Kelly said...

oh my gosh..I could have written that post..I have so much to say..I should email instead of leaving a long ass comment in this here box. But..I forgot it!...duh..

Missy said...

Lovely post, so honest and I appreciate that.

I suppose I do not define myself...I have never really had 1 solid group of friends...just scattered about friends who know me but not so much each other.

As I age I do notice how sometimes I come to realize that people who I thought were great either grew apart from me, or changed, or else maybe I never realized something about them that is really ugly to me. I sometimes wonder if I have poor judgment or if I just make assumptions before I get to know people.

I still have a very scattered group of wonderful friends and I know that we influence each others lives in positive ways (more so than negative!).

Duchess said...

What a wonderful post! I completely relate, and think that it's times like this that we are the most vulnerable and, therefore, the most open to potential change. Good for you for recognizing it instead of ignoring it out of fear. I know it's an uncomfortable feeling, but I think it's intensely healthy. Brava!