Monday, June 2, 2008

The Definition of Me

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I define myself. Meanwhile, many people in my life use labels to define me. Rollergirl is the main one, but what does that mean? And who am I when I’m not on skates or doing derby work? It’s just not that easy.

I’ve been called many things: artist, writer, student, actress, musician, athlete. When I was in a band, people would say, “This is Tara, she’s in the X-Girlfriends,” and when I was acting in plays people would say, “This is Tara, she’s Piglet in the upcoming Children’s Theater performance,” and now they say, “This is Tara, she’s a rollergirl” (notice the recurring theme here: “This is Tara, she’s a ham”).

I look around at people I know and work with, and I notice how they define themselves: newlywed, mother, Disney fanatic, executive, and student. Aside from the purpose of having something to say about a person when introducing them at a cocktail party, why do we label each other like this? And what comes first, you labeling yourself or the label someone else has given you?

While some people feel a sense of security in a label, I feel extremely uncomfortable. Why? Because there seems to be some type of permanence with a label. This is why people have such a hard time “reinventing” themselves – they’ve allowed themselves to be boxed in by a label. Why can’t we just move fluidly from one interest to another and back again if we want?

I guess the bigger question here is not “How do you define yourself,” but “How do you want to be defined?” I think we tend to get stuck in labels and definitions, whether they’re generated by us or by someone else. So, I’ve been thinking lately, “Who do I want to be next?”

Although “next” may imply pushing aside all I am now, I don’t think of it that way. Who do I want to evolve into? What type of person do I want to be?

I’ve always known I don’t ever want to be defined by my job. I see work as something you do to fund who you really are. Really, I feel the same way about my involvement in any activity, including roller derby. That’s a part of me, but that’s not who I am. The cool thing is, I know I can be whomever I want to be. I can do whatever I want. I love free will.

All I can hope for, really, is that over time I’ll be able to continue to collect little pieces here and there that work to comprise the type of person I want to be. I may not ever be able to label all those individual pieces or myself as a whole, but I’m fine with that. As long as I like the concept of me, I figure I’m doing alright.

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