Thursday, September 9, 2010

Describe Yourself

If there is one thing that the generation of "social networking" has given us, it's this: we can all describe ourselves. I have described myself on Facebook, on Twitter, on here, on my Google Account. There are probably 20 descriptions of me floating around in cyberspace that I have created for forums and groups and "teams."

And yet, I wonder if I've ever gotten it right.

I've gotten to the point where I dread the question. Describe Yourself. I fall back on labeling myself, which isn't at all the same. I'm the mother of two. I live in a small town. I have 2 cats. I work in nonprofit. I'm an unrepentant English Lit major. Which is all fine. There's nothing wrong with any of that. It's information about me. You can read it and discern certain things about me. If I work in nonprofit, I'm probably liberal (most of us are). If I have cats, I probably like to be alone (I've never understood that, if I wanted to be alone, I wouldn't have the damn cats).

But I'm not sure that you can call that a description.

Part of the issue with struggling to describe yourself is that it inevitably involves words that get tricky. I don't want to say I'm smart, even though I think I am, because I don't want to imply that anyone isn't, although I obviously think that some people aren't. I don't want to say I'm a writer, because there are other people who have done more to earn that title than I have. I don't want to say that I'm emotional, because, well, I'd like to lead with my strengths.

Another part of the problem is that most of us just aren't that comfortable with talking about ourselves. We were raised to be humble, or polite, or whatever, and talking about ourselves just seems crass, somehow. If you ask me to describe my mother I will tell you about how fierce and fearless she is, how amazingly prepared for anything and everything, how strong. If you ask me to describe a friend or a coworker, or even a blogger I read, I'll use words like intelligent, powerful, amazing, eloquent, strong, opinionated, loyal... But I would never use one of those words to describe myself - except for maybe opinionated. And don't get me wrong, it's not because I don't think of myself as strong and smart and powerful and loyal. It's just that I would never say or type those words about myself.

But I think the the biggest problem is that we don't look at ourselves much. Every morning, I stop by the mirror. I check my hair and my hem line. I make sure my clothes look okay and that they aren't sporting any spots. I look at the lines my body makes and whether or not I think earrings would help. But I never look any deeper.

A few years ago, The Husband told someone about my temper. "She gets so mad so fast, and then almost immediately calms down," he said. "I've never seen anyone with that much fire who can't carry a grudge for even ten minutes." I'd never thought about it. My grandfather has a hot temper. Quick to anger, quick to move on. My grandma has a very cold temper. It takes a lot to get her mad, but when you do, you should probably make sure your passport is current. When he said that, years back, I thought of my Granddaddy. And then I wondered why I never realized I took after him like that.

Beyond what I hear other people say about me, I'm not sure I know who I think I am. I know what I want to be, but I can't tell you how close I am. Am I patient? Probably not. Am I kind? Maybe... Do I stand up for what I believe in? Sometimes. (Does anyone always?)

So, who am I? Well, I'm strong. I think. I'm smart and opinionated. Easily bored and always fighting a degree of stir-crazy and wanderlust. I'm a homebody at heart, though, who has a favorite chair. Fluorescent lights make me temperamental and I need a good book to fall asleep.

I like what I like (90's grunge rock, ripped jeans, sunglasses, lemonade) and I don't feel the need to expand those horizons much. I hate silence. I talk a lot, cry a lot, yell a lot and sleep not quite enough. I bite my nails. Mostly because I stress so much, but a little because it's a hard habit to break and a little because I'm a touch OCD. I get that from my grandma. Also, a borderline hoarder (which I also get from Grandmommy).

I love to eat and love to cook and love to create, but I hate to do anything repetitively.

I crochet to relax, because it is one of the few areas of my life in which I allow imperfection. I don't read to relax. I don't find it particularly relaxing, but I do go crazy if I don't, so it's a little like an addiction. A delicious addiction for which I hope no one ever invents a 12-step.

I love words and grammar, but I'm not particular about any of it, just curious and interested. Despite the fact that I truly believe that last sentence, I went back and corrected the one before it so it wouldn't end with a preposition. Because...

I have pet peeves. Many of them.

I am solid. If I had to choose only one word to describe myself, it would be solid. I am not immovable, but you'll have to work at it if you want to try. I am reliable and responsible, but not boring.

I don't know if I've really described myself any better than usual. But I hope that I have managed to describe myself and not just my relationship to others.

What about you? Do you struggle with "describe yourself's" or do you breeze through?


Jenn-Jenn, the Mother Hen said...

Okay, I was going to reply, but then my insecurities came out and I wound up hijacking your blog. So, maybe I'll respond in my own blog... You know, if my scrawny self-esteem will let me.

And in case you're wondering: I would describe you as wicked-funny, smart as hell, and fiercely loveable. Make of it what you will. :-)

Suze said...

I agree with Jenn-Jenn!

And I'm not sure how to describe myself, either. Mostly, I think whatever your first of impression of me is probably wrong.

Steve said...

My trouble with describing myself is "why bother?" Despite enjoying meeting/contacting new people I am rather lazy about doing so. I guess the internet makes that easier, which leaves me less excuse to not describe myself.

But being British and of a certain age, I just don't feel right doing something that seems dangerously close to selling myself.

For your own description I offer "Well read. Read well!"

Sage said...

I breeze through, but only because I've had to do that "describe yourself" thing way too many times. I have a canned answer that I tend to go with, from about a decade (oh heavens, or more!) ago when it was used to describe me.

I'm the most open person you'll never truly get to know.

And as for you... I still think of you as a gypsy princess, with all the beauty and intelligence that encompasses.