My “Blinding Flash of Obvious”

My dear friend Sarah shared this phrase with and I experienced it this week: A blinding flash of obvious.

I am absolutely obsessed with defining myself. I probably have always been, a little bit, but after I graduated from college it intensified. It was like this furnace in the basement of my mind that was always burning looking for more fuel. I wanted to find out what made me me now that I wasn’t in school, wasn’t being graded, didn’t have a major, and had moved to a new place where I didn’t know anyone. I would ask people what they thought of me. I would take psychology tests and even read horoscopes. I was this, I was that.

I thought a lot about it. That’s why I can answer all these questions about who I think I am, my motivations, my life goals, my typical reactions, my worst qualities, and my motivations. I practically spent a year of intense study on the matter. I could write a thesis on the person I think I am.

Overall, I had resolved that I am generally shy and awkward person. Many people translated my quiet introspection as mean-dislike for them (I’ve gotten this feedback frequently). During my last year of college I met people who weren’t pained by social interaction. They bursted with life and charm. One was a transient acquaintance that could make everyone feel like his friend, Bob, and the other is my dear friend Sarah. I admire their social grace so much. I resolved, while I was in Denver, to set about changing myself, as you might have read/heard in my recent blog post.

I was talking with my professor on Wednesday about my next project and from our interaction I think, maybe, it worked.  She admitted she didn’t know me that well but got the impression that I was clever. I let this slide as a mistake (really, this is not the revelation) and continued to tell her the thought process behind my website: “I’m a really quiet in person and so I wanted to use my website to show that I actually have a personality.*” She made this face. It was that special trying-not-to-make-a-face face. There was a pause as she looked at me in disagreement before she continued her advice about how I could work on my typography in my project. For the rest of our talk, I was subtly trying to convince her I was personality-less without mentioning again and she was giving me suggestions on how I could bring my personality into my project.

Confusing right? I’m not exactly sure when or what happened, but something did. You guys, I don’t think I come across as an introvert anymore. Never ever would any of my undergraduate professors describe me as anything but timid. I only talked was when no one else in the class would and I felt bad for the professor. I realized there was a significant flaw in my description of myself and it made itself apparent in this singular conversation. I don’t even know if the people in my program would think I was actually shy even though I wrote a paper about it.

Of course, I’ve been thinking about his practically non-stop since that class. The thing is, I know that I’m a scared on the inside, but I’m no longer acting like it on the outside (to a certain extent).


Outside Jacklynn

  • Raises her hand in class
  • Talks to strangers sometimes
  • Makes jokes
  • Segments her life less
  • Goes to different events
  • Talks to you
Inside Jacklynn

  • …Heart races and there’s a moment of panic before I respond
  • …Works up to for, sometimes, up to an hour
  • …This has actually always been involuntary. I’m a snarky comment-maker
  • …Social media has helped, as sad as that sounds
  • …Also something I force myself to do. But it’s getting easier to just accept it
  • …Gets literally hot and flushed from the interaction

I know this is going to sound obvious to you, but designing has really helped me be more of myself all the time. I have argued that I’m not an artist, despite enjoying making pseudo-art things. I always considered design something that I liked that happens to be my job. But in working on project I realized that I was inevitably expressing myself. And, as I got more fluent with the medium, starting to do more-and-more things that were just for me. I’m not even talking about full-on side projects, just something as simple as putting a cat graphic inside of a phone I made:

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That was delightful to me. More and more I used filler copy as a chance to bring personality in my clients work. It was a small way to make the work more fun for me and it also made receiving my work more enjoyable for my clients.

On this project, I changed the content of the blue part and he laughed at the “spread ’em” reference:

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 9.45.43 PM

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 9.38.53 PM

And my choice for impersonating another person on this page:

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 9.40.15 PM

I mean with that, and my tumblr(s), my twitter, and this blog…I was using them as an outlet to be more honest about how I think about the world compared to how I actually interact with it. And it feels good to be more comfortable and more yourself. In the end, I started just being that honest person. To my alarming discovery, now I think I just am. The people in Pittsburgh don’t have this other view of me. The distinction of “Jacklynn with friends” is no longer that different from “Jacklynn at school.” I am even more honest with my mother, which is just plain bizarre if you knew how my family works.

What’s weird is that all these outlets are a desperate attempt for me to catalogue my life. I’m afraid of forgetting things, feelings, and inspirations. I’m a hoarder of information. And here I am, trying to collect a definition of myself, but in collecting I ended up changing.

I’m glad for it, though. I can’t believe it worked.

Although I’d be keeping something from you if I didn’t say that now I’m worried about being the annoying person.

We’ll see how this pans out, Jacklynn, we’ll see.


* Lame, I know. I think 90% of people think they have “two personalities,” but I’m a gemini so…get bent?

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