Not to toot my own horn, but when I meet up with people that I used to go to high school with they always seem to remember me as "the smart one." I admit that I derive a secret pleasure from this since I do try to represent myself as educated (have I mentioned I have a master's degree?), but often it's not much more than that--a representation. I'm not even sure how good I am at this anymore since a work friend of mine told me yesterday that in high school I was probably "the bully." Guess I am picking up a few new tricks.
I think this is a very interesting exploration however. We all have roles that we use to define ourselves--mother, spouse, employee, butt-wiper, etc. But what sort of attributes (real or wishful) do we cling to about ourselves? And once you take inventory of this, how many of these are actually positive? In a brief personal assessment, "educated" (although I'm not really sure how accurate this is--I'll admit the only thing I know about the health care debate is that it sounds REALLY expensive) and "children-oriented" are the first two positive attributes that come to mind that I try to throw out there about myself. Whether I am these things or not, it doesn't really matter as long as I reinforce them in my words and actions. I represent myself negatively too. I come off a lot less confident than I should a lot of time, usually when it comes to child-care. If I say "I just don't know how to handle this situation!" then most of the time I DON'T have to handle the situation. Get it? Calling yourself a doofus outloud lets you off the hook a bit.
One thing that I have never identified myself with is a profession. Not even "geographer" although I have two degrees in the field (have you heard?). Now, in my life I have wanted to be many things--including a vegetarian veterinarian, but that is neither here nor there--but one thing I continually come back to is "writer." It's arguable that I actually already am one. I have written a couple of things, including this blog and an 80-page thesis (for that master's degree that you may not know about). I'm curious, just because you say you are something, does it make it true? Am I a writer? Am I educated? Am I a moron? (I believe you can be all three of these things at the same time. My evidence: college professors) Is what we are what we reinforce?
My answer is split and I'm afraid it's also going to get a bit touchy-feely (all you cynics out there watch out). I think everyone has a bit of a war raging within them between their brain and their soul. Now I know that the "soul" has gotten a lot of press for being the victor of all that is good and right; the direct connection with whatever force created the universe and all that. But I don't think it should always be in command. The brain, for all it's bullying and control issues (see which one is winning in my head!) has it's place. For if we didn't let the brain make up roles for ourselves and push us to be what we want, where would we be? And if our soul wasn't there to tell us to quiet down and just chill, I think some of us would never break our insomnia.
Ultimately, I DO think that we are what we act like. But it is never set in stone. The great thing about having a brain and a soul is that they are always pushing the other to evolve. It's like having a built-in personal trainer for your thoughts. They always try to even each other, if you can just shut your brain up long enough to let them work it out. And when I finally do, they both tell me that I am none of these things that I make up. I am Elizabeth. And I can be whatever I want today.