How appropriate! I just saw the much missed Tally is back, and here I’m doing a blog prompted by my recent viewing of a Buffy. It’s the one in which Riley comes back to Sunnydale, and Buffy’s working at the Double Meat Palace and feeling all down on herself because she’s not in heaven anymore (well, that’s a good reason to feel a bit blue), she’s having sex with Spike (why that should be a problem, I’ll never know), and she’s in a general state of “who the heck am I and why am I here?” Towards the end of the episode, she says something to Riley about his perfect life with his new wife and her (Buffy) having that lingering and very hilarious Double Meat grease smell clinging to her and sleeping with the evil dead guy, and then Riley tells her that she’s the first woman he ever loved, the strongest woman he’s ever known, and that none of the rest of that can touch her, who she is. Sigh. So after I wiped away a small tear, I got to thinking about this concept of who I am.
When people are asked “Who are you?”, not that this happens unless you’re banging on someone’s door in the dead of night, but you know what I mean, it seems that the main answer is usually about their profession or work: I’m a lawyer, a plumber, a teacher, a carpet installer, a data entry tech, etc. When it’s not their work, it seems the answer centers on their role in someone else’s life: I’m so and so’s wife, mother, bitch, lover (oh, wait, those last two were Meredith Brooks). Or for you guys (though for some reason guys don’t seem to self-define this way as often): husband, father, brother, etc.
Some people identify with a certain religion: I’m a Christian, Moslem, Jew. Or perhaps by their political affiliation: I’m a Democrat, a Republican, an Independent, a Rainbow Green (or is it Green Rainbow?). Some people identify themselves as a gendered or racial whatever: I’m a white/black/Asian/Hispanic/etc. [fill in the blank] or I’m a woman/man/hermaphrodite and [fill in the blank].
I find these means of self definition very interesting as a whole; I mean the way people answer that question says so much about who they are and how they see themselves, in ways that go beyond the mere “I’m a plumber” statement. I’ve answered that question a number of ways in a number of situations, and on reflection, it usually depended not so much on my audience or circumstance (am I meeting someone at a party? online? at work? etc.) but on my own focus and frame of mind at the time. And how I do that, what I say in answer to that question, almost never touches who I am.