topbar

                       

Monday, 27 October 2014

On being three dimensional

black and white glasses

Maybe it came from reading too many Enid Blyton school stories as a child, but I spent a large portion of my pre-teen and adolescent years worrying that I hadn't found 'my thing'. Each of the girls at Malory Towers had a special talent or trait for which they were known and which marked them out as distinctive and special. As far as I could see, I didn't have one of those at all. I longed to be 'the musical genius' or 'the beautiful one', and every year before the school year began, I'd make list after list of the traits I'd adopt and the way I would be this year. Time after time, I'd fail to become the two-dimensional character I longed to be, as my own human, multifaceted self could not be suppressed. Part of the problem of course, was that I had so many 'things'. I was musical, I was academic, I was energetic, I was sociable, I was a clown... And I could never decide which one I wanted to be the most. I had to pick one didn't I? Teen magazines were constantly encouraging us to pigeonhole ourselves with flow-charts and quizzes. What 'type' of girl are you?

Looking back, I am saddened to remember the anguish I put myself through as I tried to puzzle out what 'my thing' could be, and as I'd punish myself for failing to fit into whatever arbitrary category I'd chosen to strive for each time. What saddens me even more though, is that I am still prone to this way of thinking, even now as an adult. There are so many things I still want to be, even though the adult world appears to be the ever-narrowing of fields and the closing of doors. Even within the blogging world, we're told to choose a niche for ourselves if we want any chance of becoming successful. Are you a beauty blogger? Are you a fashion blogger? Are you a food blogger? Do you travel enough to really call yourself a travel blogger?

I've become really interested in how we form our identities, during the process of trying to accept myself as a three dimensional individual. Identity is so heavily attached to the idea of 'belonging', and we draw near to those who like what we like, and who do what we do, our identities like magnets. I like to hang out with people who have similar political ideologies as me, and I love the feeling when I meet someone who has read my favourite book or enjoyed my favourite song. It's important to bond with people who are similar to us, but of course there are dangers attached to marking others out as 'different'. Especially if there is a value judgement attached to that assumption.

"Be yourself" is a common thing that adults say to teenagers and young people. While I see what the phrase is trying to say, I have always found it to be vastly naive and incredibly damaging. How on earth can a teenage girl be expected to 'be herself' when she's expected to be so many things all at once, and she doesn't even really know who/what "herself" is? "Be yourself" sounds so absolute, so concrete... as though "yourself" is a fixed concept that can be distilled, put into a glass vial and held up to the light. I wholeheartedly reject that concept, although I am its victim as much as anyone else.

So before this post becomes any more of an essay of existential nonsense, here's a list. If you can figure out who I "am", then do let me know, because I'm almost a quarter of a century old, and I haven't figured it out yet! I'm all of these... I'm none of these... I'm so much more than any of these...

I am

A writer - a diarist - a musician - a feminist - creative - nostalgic - contemplative - anxious - energetic - lethargic - melancholy - vulgar - a redhead - short sighted - fair-skinned - a digital native - a blogger - a wife - a cat-lover - a woman - a Cambridge University graduate - an ex-teacher - shorter than average - green-eyed - half-Australian - an older sister - a tea-drinker - accident prone - self-doubting - magical - an individual with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome - comedic - sociable - a foodie - whimsical - sensible - sensitive - a daughter - a travel obsessive...

So those were just a few of my thoughts. Normal posting shall resume during the week - there's a twee-as-hell banana loaf recipe coming up, so don't worry, guys. I've not completely lost it. Yet.

Twitter | Bloglovin | Instagram

69 comments:

  1. I know what you mean but I've always kind of prided myself on not being just one thing, I liked being many things although many would class me as musician.

    Even as a blogger, I am no thing in particular and that's ok, embrace the lack of label.

    If I could say anything about you, I'd say you are eclectic! And that's good! X

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. :) I'm slowly coming to terms with being LOTS of things all at once! And 'eclectic' is a great word.

      Delete
  2. it's like you took the words out of my mouth! God, I remember those Malory Towers books- they always seemed to be having midnight feasts of tinned peaches. I struggled when I was at school with the pressure of what I wanted to be as an adult- and I still have trouble having to pigeon hole myself as one thing. Loved this post x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I kind of feel like re-reading all of the Malory Towers books now... I wonder whether they'll damage me psychologically... I did love them!

      Delete
  3. I never fit into a group/category when I was in school. I had a lot in common with the nerds, was friends with the popular girls, the sporty people, the artsy people and the brainiacs. I felt like I fit into each group and I loved that. My husband was the same. We kinda just went from group to group and sat with whoever we wanted.... I never wanted to be classified as just one thing. I liked just being Jessica, the weirdo who liked manga, Final Fantasy games, got straight A's, dressed like the preppy girls and dated the football player. I WAS a weirdo and I totally embraced it. Back in middle school I tried to JUST be a preppy/popular girl. I didn't want people to know the geeky side of me because a geeky girl couldn't be popular... but after I stopped caring about popularity i just started to be myself. And I'm glad I did because I was a lot happier that way!

    I hate how people think they have to have a niche as a blogger. I think people shouldn't worry so much about that and just write about whatever they want :)

    Jessica
    the.pyreflies.org

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know what you mean, I think. Although I can't say that my struggle to categorise myself was ever really a social/clique-related thing. Like you, I've always had lots of diverse friendship groups and so I felt like I could glide between them quite well! It was more in terms of talents/strengths that I worried. I didn't want to be an 'all-rounder'. And I'm NOT really...

      Delete
  4. This is a really great blog post. I also struggled with these feelings of anxiety to figure out my "special gift/calling/purpose," and always fell short. I think society puts too much stress on figuring out your "one" passion and chasing after it. What if you have passions in many different areas that you are unwilling to suppress? I think we should encourage people to create and explore in all areas and find many enjoyments in life.

    xo
    Jenny
    www.mishmoshmakeup.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! We're all multi-talented and there are many things that make us worthy and important! Nobody can just be one thing - even people who seem really driven to one single goal (sports people for example) have all sorts of other passions!

      Delete
  5. I really love your voice as a blogger, and the fact that you post so many different things so it's always a joy to find something new and inspiring on your blog.

    I think analysing myself has always just made me feel discontent with who I am. I've always felt like I needed to fit into some sort of category but that I was always some sort of outsider. (I'm not sure if my rambling makes sense at all...) But I think at some point along the line, I just decided to just be many things and be content with that.

    Great post by the way :)

    vvnightingale.blogspot.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you're on to something there! The more self-analysis you do, the less self-content you are! I totally agree!

      Delete
  6. The last couple of years i've had a lot more confidence about not fitting into any one group, I think having a husband that supports me just being me has been a bit factor in this. Being the tattooed, quiet kid that crochets and listens to heavy metal at university, that made me stick out but it also made me accepting of myself, that this is who I am. Now nearly 10 years later, i'm just like sod, it this this this and that, deal with it lol.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, having an eternally-accepting husband definitely helps! I don't know where I'd be without mine! :)

      Delete
  7. There is so much truth and relevance in this post, so meaningful and refreshing to hear a blogger be so frank and honest. Let's face it, the best things a blogger can be :) What you said about "Be Yourself" was really interesting, I've always been torn between thinking it's a wonderful phrase and one everyone should abide by, but when it's used in connotation with me my first thought is "but I still don't know who the hell I am yet, not always."

    I found school hard, never really fitting in or belonging. The same at college and in every job I've had, the silver lining finally came with blogging. I've met so many friends that have supported me for me, truly feel like "soul sisters" and soinspo just sums up who I am without even trying. I love that <3

    Sophie | soinspo xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that 'be yourself' can be really helpful when you take it to mean "don't let other people bully/pressure you into compromising your own identity/ideals" or "don't worry about fitting in" but it can be quite damaging too. It's a tricky one, hey!

      Delete
  8. I like your view on this. I for instance,isn't good in one thing but I can be more than a one thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, you can be as MANY things as you like! <3

      Delete
  9. Absolutely love this post. You make such good points. I can definitely relate to that feeling of wanting to "categorise" myself. I've felt like I'm floating somewhere between different styles and "groups." I think I've started to become more and more okay with just being "me" (whatever that means...), but it's definitely difficult when it seems like society is so focused on categorising everything. Really though, being diverse and having several sides is actually kind of great, when you think about it. I have no idea where I'm going with this comment, but basically I can really relate and I really enjoyed reading your thoughts about this.

    xx Mimmi, Muted Mornings

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your lovely comment Mimmi! I know what you mean - and don't worry about not knowing exactly what you're trying to say - this topic is so nuanced and giant that it runs away from me! I didn't really know where my whole blog post was going! ;)

      Delete
  10. I never fit into a group and every year I would change the group I wanted to join, I think, in the end I tried so many groups that I was just on my own in the end.

    Over the last five years, I've increased my confidence in accepting that the only group I want to join is my own group. I think the biggest difference is having my bf, who supports my whatever group I want to be in on any day. People say you should do it yourself, be yourself, but it's hard to do alone. I'd never be the person I am today by myself, everyone needs some recognition about who they are, it's human.

    I think people who are good at niche blogs are good, but people who want to be/do whatever they want can be just as good in their non-niche :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm always impressed with people who can blog about one thing so extensively and in such detail! But yes, that's not for me.

      And I agree about having someone to support you. It's fun to be in an exclusive clique of two!

      Delete
  11. I love this. I feel lots of people categorise themselves as it helps them fit in with that particular group more but we are all made up of those individual identities which makes us whole :) x

    Jasmin Charlotte | UK Lifestyle Blog

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, sometimes a bit of categorisation is fine - 'fitting in' isn't inherently 'bad'. But it's important to remember that we're all nuanced and individual too!

      Delete
  12. I definitely relate to this because I have never found that I "fit in" anywhere - although sometimes it can make me feel sad, it can also be a good thing. Very thoughtful post!

    http://peeintothewind.tumblr.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You do seem to have a really dedicated and loyal group of friends though, which is good! I'm glad you liked my post! :)

      Delete
  13. Your blog is the first thing that I read this morning. I love what you wrote and I needed these words right now as I'm having a (semi) mid-life crisis. When I turned 20 this year I became confused and somewhat lost. I used to know what I want in life, but now I don't even know where I'm headed to. I used to know "my thing" that's why I chose Graphic and Web Designing as my career but I'm not sure if I'm still passionate about it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. I like reading your blog. You're an amazing person. :) Have a great day!

    x, shekinahjoy.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You've got plenty of time to work out what you want to do, and you can do several things! I think that the days of choosing one career for your whole life are over! You don't have to be anything forever!

      Delete
  14. Yes! You've hit the nail on the head, we are all made up of so many different things and I think that's something to be celebrated, although possibly not something you appreciate until you're a bit older. At school I didn't seem to have a niche and some of my interests were probably "well sad" but by the time I got into my mid 20's I started to appreciate that that was exactly what made me, "me". Better to have lots of fingers in lots of pies than to be pigeonholed into just one thing! :-) xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, one thing that makes me glad I'm not a teenager anymore, is the sense of 'self' that comes naturally from getting a bit older! <3

      Delete
  15. Such a lovely inspirational post, well written! Love the last bit as well of everything you are! Abi :)
    MyW0rldMyView

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aaa, thanks Abi! It was quite a fun list to write!

      Delete
  16. This is so beautiful! I admit that I often try to stuff myself into a niche as well. However, since starting my freshman year at a liberal arts college, I've come to appreciate being, as you so wonderfully put it, multi-faceted. (though it's still kind of annoying when I need to consider things like what I want to major in) -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the important thing to remember is that what you major in doesn't necessarily have to affect the whole of the rest of your life! You can always change direction! :)

      Delete
  17. Love your post, I can relate to what you are saying, felt the same sometimes. It took a while to accept this situation, but this is a part of growing up, isn't it? The joy of being 30+ :D
    Hugs xo

    Anca @ ancaslifestyle | UK

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, being an adult can be great because you realise that you can be lots of things all at once and nobody can tell you off! :)

      Delete
  18. I absolutely adore this post. It's quite on point- and i've seen a few bloggers writing lately about the urge to un-niche/label themselves recently and I LOVE it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let's all unshackle ourselves from labels! Hurrah! Revolution!

      Delete
  19. Wonderful post.

    We should never stereo-type ourselves. Be diverse. Be a bit of everything that you want to be!! Mix it up - be yourself in a way that isn't just said light-heartedly to tweens. Be yourself and stand out without caring what sort of person or blogger you are and don't put a label on yourself or even worry about who you are... because you are YOU!! And you is enough :)

    www.bohemianmuses.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a beautiful comment - this made my day! <3

      Delete
  20. Great post, think this speaks for a lot of people! It is always important to be yourself and not feel pressured by what others are doing.
    Bethan Likes

    ReplyDelete
  21. Such a wonderful and beautifully written post. X

    ReplyDelete
  22. I totally know what you're talking about here. But you know, I like being a jill of all trades. It kinda makes it hard to really be focused on one thing and be identified in 'that'---but in my mind, it's fine. That's me. So. :)

    http://iAmAileen.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A jill of all trades! That's excellent! :)

      Delete
  23. I love your post, I can relate to almost everything! As I'm 16, everyone expects from me to know who I am, says that I should just be myself...But I think that I have a lot of time to figure that out. :)

    Love,Sara Wallflower

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You do! You've got plenty of time - the rest of your life - to figure out 'who you are'! :)

      Delete
  24. Yay, I love this post! I was always trying to find my niche as a student too - hell, I'm still trying to find it with my career - but always felt that I fitted into multiple categories and couldn't really find what defined me. Clearly we're way too wonderfully multi-faceted to be pigeonholed :) Down with stereotypes! x

    Tamsin / A Certain Adventure

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let's start a revolution, Tamsin! Down with stereotypes! Down with pigeonholes! Let the pigeons nest wherever they please!

      Delete
  25. I love this post, Candy! This is a subject that I'm sure everyone has struggled with at one time in their lives, especially girls. I have always thought that it is such a crazy thing that we are expected to know who we are at such a young age. I'm not so young anymore and I'm still trying to figure it out ;). I am constantly changing and evolving, so I might never figure it out and that's ok.

    Tamara
    www.trulytamara.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment - I am so glad that so many people have said they can relate! We should form a club!

      Delete
  26. I find this really relatable Candy, not only because it pretty much describes me from my teen years until now but also because I work with teenagers and I see how this affects them every day. Thanks for writing such a special post xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's so interesting and sad to see how the things that affected you as a teenager still affect teenagers now! I used to be a teacher and it was so distressing to see teenage girls stricken with self-doubt, and to know that I didn't have the answers they needed because I still felt the same way!

      Delete
  27. Such a great post Candy! I love the 'I am' paragraph. Why should we just have one thing or to be known for one particular trait when we are human beings and every human being is deep and so many things all glued together. I've never believed in labeling people, I even remember my Myspace page when I was around 13-14 said 'I'm not a tin of baked beans, don't label me!'

    P.S. Huge congratulations on your new flat! How very exciting!

    Hayley-Eszti // www.hayleyeszti.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahhh myspace. If only I could remember all of the things I wrote on my myspace... Them were the dayz...

      Delete
  28. Brilliant post, Candy! I totally bought into the 'pigeon holing' thing as a teenager, and it's only now as a young woman (cringe of cringe, what else can you say? Twenty-something? Still cringe..) that I enjoy the fact you can be many things. In a week, or in a day, or in an hour. Some days I like being 'professional' with nice shoes and strong gin, other days I'm all for piercing my nose, wearing floral trousers and taking up surfing. I think you're so cool (and I love that you commented on my blog -thank you, or I wouldn't have come across yours and so far I am LOVING it and have only read two posts). you're the kind of person I want to meet - multi dimensional, contradictory, complimentary and interesting. Very much the kind of person I want to be!

    Flora x
    www.floraemay.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Flora! What an amazing comment! You're too lovely, and I absolutely love the way you write - oh my gosh! I've been working really hard on calling myself and my female friends 'women' recently so that it can stop sounding cringe!

      Plus, anyone who classes strong gin as professional can pretty much join my friendship group right now! ;)

      Delete
  29. Wise words!


    Would you like to follow eachother?
    http://helderschicplace.blogspot.com/2014/11/loving-autumn.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh, I'm not sure I'd go as far as to call myself WISE! Haha!

      Delete
  30. I know what you mean by trying to find yourself. Growing up, I didn't have the chance to understand/explore who I wanted to be. My parents were extremely strict and they made sure what, who I am which led to me rebelling after high school. Who am I now? Well, a mother-wife-food &beauty fanatic-writer and many more, in short, I am who I am.

    Reflection of Sanity

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you've managed to 'find yourself' despite hurdles as you were growing up! :)

      Delete
  31. Great post! I still haven't found my 'thing' but whatever, as long as you are happy!
    Harriet
    Http://greeneyesandlongblondehair.blogspot.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the most important thing after all! :)

      Delete
  32. Now this is a great post! So incredibly relatable. I love being everything and nothing...I have options. ;) xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's always good to have options! :)

      Delete
  33. SUCH a fab post!

    I struggled so much with this idea when I was growing up (maybe cos I also read Enid Blyton!!!). I love your list of things you are. I did one when I was at school and it ended up being something like 3 pages long. There's always more than you think there is :) xx

    Little Miss Katy | UK Lifestyle Blog

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Enid Blyton has a lot to answer for! And yes, we are all SO much more than we think we are!

      Delete
  34. I can relate to this so much it's crazy! Love this post so brutally honest and beautifully written! I was also a clown ( an actual clown called Sparkles!) and always struggle to write social media bios cause I wanna put down like 239857287 things haha x

    www.sunnydei.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  35. I think this is a post that everyone can relate to, the idea that we all have to choose one thing to be good at and focus on nothing else seems absurd to me too! If you have several talents or hobbies, then why can't we revel in the fact that we're multi-talented? I'm a graphic designer, but that doesn't mean I can't be a fashion blogger or a musician. I am myself, but sometimes I'm not myself, and that's me being myself!

    Sorry I'm rambling now, what I was trying to say was great post! I love your style of writing, it's so captivating and narrative!

    Ruby, The Fashion Antlers

    ReplyDelete
  36. Hey! I just read this post on Wit&Delight called On the Vernacular of Good vs. Bad, Us vs. Them, In vs. Out and I was reminded of your own post! I think you might enjoy reading this one :D -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...