Detangling Identity

A few days back our lady of academia - Rebecca, of Death and Taxes - proposed an interesting experiment - detangling identity and a similar followup. Her premise was that we all have shared identities, yet we seem to have the devil of a time getting past all the things dividing us instead of concentrating on the things uniting us.

To help foster a little understanding Rebecca asked readers to send her ten ways in which we form our identity. Although it seems dangerously close to becoming a meme, we'd like to throw our ten hats into the ring:
  1. At our core is a compulsive observer who is fascinated by the actions of people, but is who is frequently confused by their emotions. We can clearly understand almost any behavior - no matter how odd or "wrong" - but we almost never relate to others emotionally. It gives us the strong feeling of being invisible and out of place. We most often describe this as feeling as though we don't fit in our own skin or that we are watching a movie of our own life.
  2. Reading us is much more dynamic than meeting us. We are painfully shy, abysmal at small talk, and frequently say things that are inappropriate or out of place. We lack the common sense needed to edit ourself in real time, which is why we write.
  3. We love dogs. They love people unconditionally. They almost never strike out in anger unless mercilessly provoked. They have warm bellies and ears that beg to be scratched. Cats? Not so much.
  4. We have the curiosity of a toddler combined with the cynicism of an ancient hermit. This combination sometimes leads us to places we probably shouldn't go. We can see the consequences clearly, but many times choose to ignore them...sometimes to our spectacular detriment.
  5. We swim in a shallow gene pool. We are the grandson, son, and brother of schizophrenics. We have lived with people who preach at the dogs and sit endlessly rocking in a near-stuporous state. We intimately know the insides of mental health facilities, and while they are some of the worst places on earth to visit, we wouldn't have given up the opportunity to even if given the chance.
  6. We are a lifelong sufferer of clinical depression. We have invested much time and effort trying to lead a stable life. From all outward appearances, it appears to be fairly successful. Sometimes from the inside it doesn't. Despite dragging this anchor around with us, we can be remarkably cheery, relentlessly resilient, and readily able to laugh - even if we don't always "feel the funny".
  7. We are also defined by our family. We met Mrs. Poobah as her penpal, another example of what writing has brought to our life. She is our best friend, our confidant, our lover, and our place of refuge. Despite her parents' baggage, we have raised an exceptionally gifted and stable child. Poobette is loving and caring, smart and funny, generous and polite to a fault. She hasn't a mean bone in her body, but every one of them is placed perfectly to make up the finest daughter we could have ever hoped for.
  8. We have no religion, nor are we particularly spiritual. However, we believe in well-tended and carefully groomed souls that do their best to do the right thing. We figure the payoff is in the here and now and if there is a heaven and you make it, it's just an extra helping of gravy.
  9. Our father is our hero. Though he has some serious flaws, he is a man of integrity who sticks to his word, tries to do right, and unconditionally loves us. Without him, we would not be around today.
  10. We abhor confrontation. We are slow to anger, apt to give plenty of ground in the name of peace, and will fight vigorously when we are ignored or when those we wish to ignore us cannot manage to do so.
So what do you think? Did we capture ourselves?

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, January 09, 2006

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