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).
- Raises her hand in class
- Talks to strangers sometimes
- Makes jokes
- Segments her life less
- Goes to different events
- Talks to you
- …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:
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:
And my choice for impersonating another person on this page:
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?