I think about things. A lot. And ever since teacher’s college I’ve found myself to be reflecting about who I am and what makes me ‘me’ on a regular basis.
One of the things I hate most about interviews / getting-to-know-yous of any sort is the dreaded, inevitable invitation, “So, tell me a little bit about yourself”. For some people this would be the simplest question to answer. For me, I feel like a huge spotlight is glaring into my soul and what they are really asking is, “So, who are you?”
My knee-jerk response is always, “Well, I’m 24, a teacher, and I’m married.”
But then I think, is that really honest? Am I completely defined by my age, career and marital status? I only give that answer because I get flustered, anxious and am not sure of what the person asking me is looking for, if anything. In a job interview, there are always right and wrong ways to answer questions. There are boundaries. Same with school. But that question is just… open. How much should I reveal about myself? Does only telling you what I do and that I’m married make me seem uninteresting?
So then I add, “I also enjoy music and have played piano for years.”
…but that’s only partly true. What I am really thinking is:
“I love music and playing the piano, but I really should play more. Over the past 5 years I’ve stopped practicing like I should and my ability is slipping. I know my Husband wishes I’d use my piano more as he loves to hear me play (and the piano was expensive) but when I sit down and can’t play like I used to it’s incredibly frustrating and makes me sad. It makes me wonder how I let it go. Don’t you think that’s weird?”
…I’m pretty sure that’s not the answer they are looking for. After getting the nod that that they have acknowledged that I’m a teacher, am married and love music I still feel like something is missing. So then I throw in,
“I also really enjoy sports. I love running, and I used to play basketball and volleyball.”
This usually gets another appreciative nod, and inwardly I cringe a little bit as I think,
“Well, I DO enjoy sports, and running. Unfortunately I recently gave up running for a gym membership where I’ve made friends with an exercise bike and an elliptical, and I haven’t played basketball or volleyball since high school… which wasn’t that long ago, was it? Wait, I just told you that I was 24, which would make high school… 6 years ago. Oh my goodness–I’m OLD.”
…but I can’t say that out loud. You’re getting to know me! And liking sports is important. It shows I’m a team player… and that’s important, right?
In an interview setting, this is usually the point where we (thankfully) move on to the next question, and I hope I’ve made marriage, piano and sports seem exciting enough to hire me. But then I can’t help but think,
“What have I really told you about myself? What do I really tell anyone about myself?”
This blog is a great front. Out here, I can be anyone I want to be. I can be the incredibly confident, shoe / fun loving girl, or I can be the quiet, reflective writer, and no one would know the difference. I never really thought about this “personality” until I switched to this template and was faced with filling out an “About Page” as it came with the getup. It was seriously the most difficult post I’ve ever written and I drafted it about 10 times before finally just giving up and posting what I had. And what is it? My age, my career and marital status. Oh, and I threw in a few things that I like too, just for good measure.
It was really, really hard for me! I’m constantly thinking about what other people will think about who I am and what I write, when really, who cares? (besides me) I need to get over my issues of opening up to people. I think part of it stems from never really having a close girlfriend–don’t get me wrong, I’ve had many, many close girlfriends, but never one, stand-by-you-through-anything-best-friend–that I could completely be myself with without fear of judgment.
Someone I could really answer the question, “So, who are you?” to. It might go something like this:
“Well, I’m a 24-four year old university graduate who often feels like a 17-year-old trapped in a grown-up’s body. I tend to cling to the past instead of embracing the future because, well, that’s freaking scary! There’s no security there! Instead of attempting to make new friends whom I’d have to open myself up to, I cling to past ones even when it’s time to accept that it’s time for us both to move on. I’m famous for having BIG ideas but need to have something or someone to push me to do them. I know I CAN do them, I just have a lot of trouble with motivation. But here’s the thing, I hate when anyone pushes me to do anything. I can seriously be fiercely stubborn, but only sometimes. So just make it seem like it was all my idea, ok?
I’ve somehow become a total homebody and I really have mixed feelings about that. It’s not that I don’t enjoy being at home, but the person I was before loved going out all the time and I feel like I should still love it…. and I’m worried that I’ve stopped because of fear. I’ve never felt comfortable as a “host” or having people over because I’m always scared that they’ll get bored and then they won’t want to hang out with me anymore. I really do think too much.
I probably wouldn’t think so much if I talked about my anxieties more often, but then someone would know my deep dark secrets and then what would they think of me? What would they think if they knew I had to physically check that the oven was off and the door was locked twice each night, then lie in bed mentally reaffirming that they were both done or else I’d lie awake in concern?
And then the next day I’d probably apologize for it because I apologize for everything. It’s my nature. I’m so afraid of hurting or offending other people that I just apologize for almost everything I do, even when there is absolutely nothing to apologize for. (I’m weird that way.)
But even though I know I’m not perfect, and I struggle daily with my self-image and confidence, I know I’m not without worth… I am healthy, naturally optimistic and love with all that I have. I have a big heart, and if you ever need me, I’ll be there in a moment’s notice to help you in any way that I can. I’m a wonderful listener and have been told that I bring a calming, peaceful presence into a room. (thanks, Mom!) As aware as I am of my faults, I also know I have many talents, and try to focus on the good instead of the bad.”
So you wanted me to tell you a little bit about myself? There it is.
The next time I’m faced with that question, I don’t know what I say, but I know it will be more than my age or career. I am 24, I am a teacher and I am married, but those things don’t define me. It’s just a small part of who I am–one piece of the big picture that is me. It’s time to let go of the insecurities and be me, regardless of how scary that might be.
So. Who are you?