Monthly Archives: December 2018

The Elusiveness of Identity

I started yet another blog. Probably my sixteenth blog over the years. It’s supposed to be dedicated to crafts, but I wonder if Instagram is the better way to go for that. Almost certainly Instagram is the better way to go. Or maybe, Instagram tied with a blog? I don’t know.

My hope for this particular blog, which I wanted to call “This Beautiful Mess” but it was taken, was to demonstrate how I do my recycled crafts. Maybe reusing leftovers too, just the things around the house I do to try to save the environment. I don’t think it would get great readership, just like the hiking blog, but I wonder if I should put it out there anyway so I might be able to inspire someone, somewhere.

The problem with blogs is that they show only one part of you. Here is this hobby. Here is that hobby. As if this aspect of your life is true and static, as if your interest never waxes or wanes. As if having the label – and I’ve experienced this myself – is something that you personally need, an affirmation. Yes, this is who I am. I am a… hiker. Or I am a crafter. Or I am a Catholic. Or I am a librarian. We buy mugs to declare our identities, something we can look at and other people can look at too. I am this. I behave accordingly, based on my mental image of what comes with that identity.

I just got a bass guitar, and the mental image of myself shifted ever so slightly. The environmental hippie nerd image I hold of myself lately, with my self-dyed dress and upcycled scarf and trekking poles stashed in the closet as I crochet all the Christmas gifts, now has a bass guitar strapped to her. I have started wondering if I need to buy a new pair of shoes to match. Or a new sweater, one that’s slightly less librarian-y. Or if I should go to Goodwill and look for a used prom dress. I had found one there once, an iridescent purple monstrosity that I immediately loved despite it being three sizes too small, and it might make a good outfit if I ever step on a stage with the bass. But there’s also that image of me holding a mic and wearing Lululemon and holding a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks. I make the audience wait while I take a selfie, I take a sip of the latte, put it down slowly, and then suddenly start screaming subversive feminist lyrics and writhing around while violently loud music plays from amplifiers behind me.

Those are two ways I can fulfill the identity of Rockstar. Or I could just get a t-shirt and jeans and look normal, like Kim Deal. Good thing I just bought a plain gray t-shirt and dark jeans. Was it a coincidence, or was I imagining myself as Kim Deal-Style Rockstar when I bought these things? Actually, it was Children’s Librarian who did that, while Depression-Prone Thirtysomething kept whispering in her ear that I’m probably not going to lose extra pounds in winter so I should just get some comfortable pants. The two of them wanted a loose, casual shirt to wear to work (influenced by Environmentalist Hippie to buy the expensive yet sustainable cotton), and jeans with help from Former Retail Employee Who Can Only Wear Dark Wash Denim. Maybe Rockstar pointed out that she could borrow the outfit sometimes as Children’s Librarian made the purchase. Now when I put on the jeans to head out, Probably Has An Undiagnosed Eating Disorder or her twin sister Definitely Doesn’t Have An Eating Disorder always have an opinion. Roxie Junior likes to chime in and tell me where the loose ridges of fabric look just like my mom’s jeans.

These are all me. And dozens if not hundreds more. Maybe not at once, but they’re all there, floating below the surface, waiting to be called up. And they’re often completely contradictory. White Trash is me, and so is Paid Subscription To The Atlantic. The same with Fierce Bossbitch and Can’t Even Take Care Of Myself. I’ll hear from them both in the same day, same hour, even in the same mental breath. I am neither one nor the other. I’m both, and I extend beyond that too. How can I possibly compartmentalize these things in different online spaces? Why do I have the urge to separate Hiker Trash from Environmental Hippie and keep Reflective Essayist separate, as if these aren’t part of my whole? As if compartmentalizing our identities isn’t contributing to growing social divisions, like how we separate Gun Collector from Loves Their Kids, or Medicated For Depression only posts photos of Globetrotter.

So I have no idea if I’m starting a crafting blog. It feels artificial to tease out this one part of me without showing the whole, even though that’s not how the internet is structured and it’s not the most effective way to get information out there. But I am a human being, and as such I embrace all the complications – “this beautiful mess,” as most of my various identities can agree on – and don’t want to reduce myself to a marketing strategy for a part of me that is going to ebb naturally.