Less is More

In the past, I had been challenged to find words that I might use to identify myself—challenged because I love to preface myself, especially when referring to hobbies and interests.

Recently, the challenge was re-stated. Upon provocation to make an online profile, a list of my identities was born. However, feeling more or less knowledgeable or competent at a certain skill/content area deters me from wanting to claim any ownership of any identity/interest. As a result, I have made a list of identities, removing most qualifiers of proficiency.


I am a person of privilege: I am white, I am middle-class. I am a recovering Catholic, but not without spirituality. I am female, but I am not always a woman. I love people; I love solitude. I am a lover—I have family: I am a daughter, a sister, a niece, a grand-daughter;—I am a fighter. And I am a friend.
And I wear many hats: I am a PC-gamer, a house-plant gardener, a fair-weather creative writer. I am an artist: a painter, a compulsive doodler, a worker of wood; I am a musician: I am a pianist, a flautist, a vocalist, an accordion player; I am a mover: a dancer, a yoga practitioner, a judoka, a unicyclist; And I am an observer.
I wear many coats: I am a novice, I am an expert; I am a student, I am a teacher; I am a therapist, I am a patient; I am a scientist, I am a subject; I am a leader. I am a follower.

And there lies the limit to my conversation.
Interesting? Maybe.
Informative? Not so much.

I was asked to blog about my identities. I don’t like presenting this topic in this way because I feel pressured to identify in a way that does not come natural to me.
Lumping together my identities seems unsatisfying and doesn’t seem genuine.
But maybe it is?

The convictions I claim on certain topics, the things that I will admit to liking, the way I carry myself, and the language I select can vary greatly depending on whose company I keep. I’m a very different person within very different contexts.
Does admitting to such a dichotomy in behavioral expression make me a phony?
Or maybe it makes me very honest—I believe that I am who and what I say I am, at that moment.

I love to preface everything I say. Prefacing brings me closure.
However, prefacing, I have been learning, has come to be an unnecessary conversational crutch; when I preface my statements, I deny others the pleasure of taking interest in me and sharing a conversation.
But I feel that I have too often been misinterpreted without having the premeditated language/other opportunities to justify myself.
So I like qualifiers; they help me tell the story of my identities.
And although I carry multiple identities wherever I go, I never experience them all at once.

I am a leader.
I am an expert/novice mover > dancer > leader)

Example: In some contexts, I am an expert at a practice (when among new tango dancers)—in others, a novice (in the presence of experienced tango dancers/instructors). For me, these identities aren’t mutually exclusive—they’re variable by context and exist upon a spectrum. Claiming either exclusively does not do me, or others, justice; saying that I am something that I am not has me lying to myself and lying to my social partners.
And it is then that the temptation is to identify as being less than more.
(“… I’m flattered that you think I’m a good leader, but I don’t think I am. I mean, I like to lead, but I’m not a great leader yet … I’m still a new dancer, you know! There’s so much to learn …”)
I can be dancing tango at least four days a week to others’ once or twice, on the dance floor for every Practica from beginning to end, working my tango technique for hours at a time (to others’ maybe 30 minutes), and yet still be reluctant to claim myself as good in the presence of less-ambitious, older dancers or still feel ill-deserving of dancing with, who I perceive as, desirable experienced dancers, because of how I perceive my relative lack of time/experience.

And that’s just tango dancing. No, not even—that’s just tango leading.
The thought of piecing apart every identity I carry, unfolding every part of myself to allow silent vulnerability, seems exhausting—exhausting for me to endure others’ judgments; exhausting for others to endure all that I could possibly be.
So, not prefacing myself? Impossibl—er … really, really hard.
I can’t know that people won’t ask the right questions; an unfavorable opinion may be formed due to negligence in my self-justification.

Identities. Judgment. Self-worth.
These are the struggles I face, socially.
Am I enough?
That’s always the question that I always hope others can answer for me.
. But … I have to allow myself to believe others, too.

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