Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Indescribable Me

First, the good news-- well good for me, at least.  I submitted a piece from this blog to a cool online/soon-to-be-print magazine called The Equals Record and they not only accepted that piece to publish, they asked me to write another one, about books, so they could publish that too.  Pats on the back for me all around-- and don't think I'll be too shy to inform everyone when these will appear.  I'm positively giddy in my own quiet way. *

Yep-- we are the choices we make.  But is that all we are?
Of course, as we cynics often suspect, every silver lining has a cloud.  One appeared for me when the editor at Equals asked me to send a picture and a "short bio" to put on the site with my work.  Easy peasy, right?  Yeah, not so much for me.  I've written here on the blog about my issues with having pictures taken, and how I feel that none of them look like me.  Because they all look, you know, awful.  And there I was, having to not only send in a picture (which the editor graciously let me out of) but write about myself, and suddenly, I didn't know what to say, how to describe myself.  All that came into my head was a bunch of negatives, "I'm not this," "I haven't done that," etc... And this was when I was happy about having gotten something accepted to be published.  I should have been able to write something clever and, more to the point, positive and straightforward, about who I am and what I do.  The problem is, I'm not sure.  How to say who I am, that is. 

I don't think my self esteem is as low as this must make it sound.  In fact, I don't think my self esteem is the problem at all.  It's the esteem of others, especially others who might be meeting me for the first time, that I am concerned about-- way more than I like to think.  To myself, my husband, even my mom, sometimes, when pushed, I can boldly say things like "I own my choices.  I am responsible for where I am now."  I mean it.  I do think that.  Thanks to my firm belief that we can't control everything that happens to us, I can claim the choices I've made about the things I could control.  And I will honestly tell you when those choices were good and when I royally screwed the pooch on decision making.  But the editor asked me for a "short bio," not an exhaustive existential examination of my entire life.  My problem is how to cut to the chase without being allowed to explain how some things happened so that I can make sure that others understand and hold a fair opinion of me.  (Mental note to dig deeper into why I care so much what other people think...)

If I am the choices I've made-- or more to the point, the result of the choices I've made-- I should be able to describe who I am by listing what I've chosen to spend my time learning and being and doing.  So, mother and wife make the top of the list because these are the two most important things I am.  I'm writing, that's obvious, but am I a Writer?  I'm not sure.  Not yet, probably.  I make jewelry, but I'm not a jeweler.  I have a law degree, but I'm not a lawyer.  I have a philosophy degree (a degree and a half, if you count that completed, but languishing, Master's coursework) but I'm not a philosopher, either.  I'm currently unemployed, so do I call myself a job seeker?  None of this captures anything essential about me anymore than telling someone what town I live in, or where I was born, or what I had for lunch.

As I write this, it is getting clearer to me that the problem is not describing myself. It is trying to describe myself by what I do and what I have chosen.  Really, it is the force behind those things: my thoughts, my beliefs, my will, that make me who I am.  That essence, that "selfyness," (a made up word-- you heard it here first) is what I have trouble getting down on paper, because one essential part of who I am is someone who likes to get things like this exactly right. So round and round I go. 

I know I am over thinking all of this, but that's what I do.  Maybe I could write that down:   EBK Riley is a wife and mother who currently lives in Scottsdale where she thinks things to death  on a daily basis while providing her family with clean laundry and nutritious home cooked meals.  See, I know that a "short bio" is about where I'm from and what I do and maybe even what I had for lunch, but I also know that this doesn't really give anyone a clear picture of who I am. 

I am so much more than a burrito-eating blogger born in Los Angeles. 

How do I briefly capture my true self?  Maybe I don't. This is just a few sentences after all, so I just need to offer a quick overview.  And really, what I have to do is just be who I am, not question myself so much, and not worry about what other people think.  

Hey, throw in a "carpe diem," and rousing chorus of "if you want to love what you do, do what you love,"  and I just wrote a commencement speech.  I may not ever nail this "short bio" thing, but maybe I'll just keep writing and when my book comes out and Oprah can't be everywhere at once, those universities will come a'calling and I'll be ready.  I hope I won't have to have my picture taken...

*The book piece came out on 31 May, in case you haven't seen it yet. 

Choice image here.