Owning Who You Are

 

The other day, I had the pleasure of reading Deanna Raybourn’s blog post about owning who you are and what you like. So much of life’s difficulties tend to stem from attempting to disown parts of ourselves that seems a little tarnished or unacceptable by some bizarre standard. There’s nothing more horrifying than waking up and realizing that you loathe the direction your life has taken or that you’ve been hiding a part of yourself in the shadows.

It isn’t easy to be exactly who you are, especially in a world where a lot of people scoff and sneer and try to pull at your courage. The truth is that the people who are a poised to tear another down are really just scared or envious. So much of people’s baser actions stem from a well poisoned with fear or the inability to understand something that isn’t familiar.

But I digress. Deanna wrote about the mix of interests that make her who she is and there was so much about that entry that just made me cheer (and not just because we like a lot of the same things, although now I find I need to buy a pair of cowboy boots; I owned a red pair until I was about ten. I miss them).

So, without further ado, here is what I know – and I say that knowing full well that I may know different things tomorrow, because part of the beauty of being your own person is the ability to change one’s mind.

  1. I am not just one thing. No one is. I love reading as much as I love watching movies (from Casablanca to The Green Lantern). I believe in singing and singing loudly, even if I haven’t practiced in a long time and can’t hit all the notes. There is never a bad day for a song or musical number – and I may not have any formal dance training, but dancing around the kitchen will cure any bad mood, especially if the kitchen smell like pasta sauce. Speaking of pasta sauce, I think that jarred sauce is an abomination, and it makes me want to cry. If ANYONE ever wants to learn how to make marinara sauce from scratch, email me. It is easy, and it will be a balm to your soul. There are few problems that cannot be tackled with a good friend, a cup of coffee, and a slice of cheesecake. I love high heels and yoga pants with equal passion, and I’m just as likely to go fishing than I am to apply my eyeliner perfectly. I love Scrabble and champagne, but I can’t stand beer, except the occasional Corona with lime. I think that pretending to be someone else can be amusing and liberating, and I’m not afraid to adopt a different accent in public. If you run into a woman who looks like me, but who is suddenly British, just call me Moneypenny. I might even answer. Once, I wanted to be an actress (and a Bond Girl); there might even be headshots floating around out there. I never followed through on it, but I still consider it. I don’t think it’s ever too late for a new dream or the resurrection of an old one. I believe in the power of laughter, red lipstick, and smiling at strangers. I believe in being nice, until there’s a reason not to be – in which case, RUN. I won’t abide anyone hurting someone I love. If I love you, it’s usually for keeps, and I’ve got your back even when I don’t agree with you – and let’s face it, no one agrees all the time.
  2. Stay true. This is often the hardest thing to do in life. Deanna mentioned that it is monumentally more difficult to stand up to one’s friends, because they hold a place of esteem in our lives. This is true. I am easily swayed, if I’m made to feel foolish. It took me YEARS to say, “I’m a writer” out loud without looking like I was either going to bolt from a room or throw up on my shoes. It took me even more time to hold fast to that identity in the barrage of follow-up statement/questions that feel more like a wrecking ball crossed with an inquisition. Everything I write takes me one step closer to the writer I want to be. I hope to hell I never stop learning about the craft AND the industry, because the best writers can always see the opportunity for growth and change. The same goes for people, actually. The day I cease to be able to see another perspective is the day I lose my ruby slippers and my toes curl up. Did I mention my affinity for movie quotes and references? I’ll also quote from Shakespeare on command.
  3. I am what I am. (Anyone who can name what song that’s from is automatically AWESOME.) I am a geek who occasionally dresses like Audrey Hepburn or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I read comic books, will kick your ass at video games, and I own a killer pair of leather pants. I draw, but not well enough to do anything with it, and I will bait my own fishing hook even if I have to use a live minnow. I still think it’s gross, but I push past it. I am stronger than I think I am, but weaker than I want to be, sometimes. I believe that love is never wrong, even if it’s slanted, and that broken hearts are just milestones. I think that everyone is entitled to their opinions, but ultimately, you run your own life – because you’re the one who’s in it. I think that everyone person should know how to change a tire and make at least one decent meal. I think that there is power in a good story and that poems will steal your breath if you let them. And I don’t care how old I get, I will always love birthday and Christmas with equal verocity, because it’s important to hang on to that piece of ourselves that still dwells in delightful possibility.

There’s nothing admirable about fitting in, falling in line, or pretending to be normal. You know who’s normal? No one. That’s a lie they tell you in middle school to make you feel awkward when you dress differently or want to dye your hair. Fall in love whenever you can. Believe in magic. Stop to look at sunsets. And remember: there’s never going to be another YOU, so grab hold of that, and rock the hell of it.

“I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.”
~Audrey Hepburn

““I can believe things that are true and things that aren’t true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they’re true or not.” ~Neil Gaiman

“That was the year, my twenty-eighth, when I was discovering that not all of the promises would be kept, that some things are in fact irrevocable and that it had counted after all, every evasion and every procrastination, every mistake, every word, all of it.”
~Joan Didion

Sally Owens: All I want is a normal life.
Aunt Frances: My darling girl, when are you going to realize that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage!

~Practical Magic

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  1. November 26, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Love this post, Ali. Being true to yourself is always easier said than done, but for the record I think you’re doing a fabulous job.

  2. November 26, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Yes, there is power in a good story, and my wife is at her prettiest when she’s happy. 🙂

    • November 27, 2011 at 7:48 am

      *grin* Thanks for commenting, Colin!

  3. November 26, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Awesome post, my pet–and thanks for the shout-out! And for the record, who you are is fabulous. 😉

    • November 27, 2011 at 7:49 am

      Thank you for reading this, Deanna! You’re most welcome for the shout-out. 🙂 Thank you for the compliment.

  4. November 27, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Loved this post! Thank you, Ali!

    • November 28, 2011 at 8:04 am

      Thank you, Ana!! I’m very glad that you liked this. 🙂

  5. November 28, 2011 at 11:00 am

    I love this! It’s taken me a while to figure all these things out, but it’s so liberating to not only accept who you are, but to flaunt it.

    • November 30, 2011 at 8:09 am

      It doesn’t matter how long it takes — as long as you get there! *grin* And yes, it IS liberating to accept/flaunt it. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  6. Jessica
    November 29, 2011 at 10:22 am

    I am what I am, I don’t want praise, I don’t want pity. (Seriously, favorite song.)

    There is no such thing as normal; all there is a majority, and those who want to make you feel bad if you don’t align yourself with it. Don’t listen to them, and don’t feel ashamed. Life will be a lot more exciting if you just allow yourself to want the things you want, and like the things you like instead of concerning yourself with how that will look to others. Very few, if any of us, can be confined to a box, or a generalization, or a stereotype. And you’ll get a lot more out of life by embracing all your little quirks and embarrassing habits and goofy interests than you will by suppressing them.

    • November 30, 2011 at 8:11 am

      If anyone was going to guess that song, I KNEW it would be you. Which makes me happy. Now, to your comment — I agree, normal is a fallacy. Confining people to generalizations and boxes is always a hindrance, never a help. Personally, I love being quirky, even if it gets me slightly odd looks. It makes me, me. 🙂 Great comment, Jessica!!

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