The other day, I was on Twitter and a person (to go unnamed) reached out to make a connection. This was fine, the person was fine, everything was fine. Except, there was this one little thing I noticed about her profile. It was this: in her brief intro section, there was a line that said, “[Certain Famous So and So] once tweeted me.”
Okay, I get it. A brush with fame, even if it’s only by the tips of the bristles. We’ve all done it, haven’t we? Gone a little starstruck?
A friend and I once walked up part of a mountainside next to Eddie Vedder. It was at an outdoor concert and he never uttered a single syllable to us, but we were still pretty elated. After another concert, a group of my friends and I got the chance to talk with a couple of the guys from Soundgarden (nope, not Chris Cornell…), and, once, my husband hung out in a bar in Stone Harbor, NJ, with Dave Matthews. By “hung out,” of course I mean they were sitting at opposite sides of the bar for a while. Last, but not at all least, I met Mark Strand a few years after he’d been named U.S. Poet Laureate. He might not have been a rock star like the others, but I sure looked at him like he was. Yeah, embarrassing. Anyway, this is it, for my husband and me. We were, briefly, fame adjacent, via poets and musicians. To this date, we’ve received not one tweet from any of them.
My Mark Strand autograph, may he rest in peace
What’s my point? I’m not quite sure. I guess it’s just that these experiences made for moments of excitement in our lives and fun stories for a while afterward. They’re not the first thing we share when we’re introduced to new people and they definitely don’t define us. I’m not trying to be overly critical of this Twitter person, with her “[So and so] once tweeted me.” Really, I’m not. I can understand that fame proximity can go to your head, but honestly, should a few words or a nod thrown your way by someone–anyone–help define you? Again, I’m not sure. Everyone defines themselves differently. Personally? I’m frequently inspired by people’s words, but I don’t want other people’s words to define who I am.
Still, coming across this famously-tweeted woman on Twitter made me pause to think. How do we define ourselves? Granted, it can depend on the situation. There’s the resume type of defining we do in professional situations. We certainly define ourselves differently in our doctor’s exam room than we would at a class reunion. (One would hope, anyhow.) But this isn’t the type of defining I mean. I’m not even talking about Twitter or Facebook or any type of social media defining. I mean, who are you, when no one else is around? In a quiet, shady garden, with a light breeze to keep you comfortable, who are you?
Come on in, gate’s open
If I’m asking this of you, I probably ought to do a little fessing up, myself. I think the way I define myself has evolved over time, much like anyone else. I’d have to say, first and foremost, I’m a mother and a wife. My children are my loves, my world, my everything; my husband is my best friend, my love, my comfort and companion, even though, occasionally, our differences drive each other slightly batty. I love animals and nature and my spirituality is strongly tied to both. In terms of religious beliefs? I’m more or less undeclared. I am a Christian in my heart, but I find beauty in parts of various other religions, as well. To be encouraged to worship or pray or believe in a specific way just doesn’t seem to work for me. Political stance? No thanks. I have views on given topics, but in general, politics and politicians frighten me. They always seem too far disconnected from the root of the real matters to do much good. That said, I vote regularly and I make my choices according to issue, rather than party. In fact, I’ve been known to change parties, based on which primary I want to vote in next.
All in all, I think I’m sort of in a larval/chrysalis/evolving stage, hoping to figure out how to form some wings. If I had to paint a picture of how I’d most like to live, I’d make it a little safe haven somewhere quiet, where I could be surrounded by the people and animals I love, to live in tune with nature. It would be a place where I could learn and grow, while taking in life meaningfully and at my own pace. Sure, it’s an idealized image, but it represents my current me to me.
Image via Unsplash/Bradley Swenson
Something along these lines…
To answer my own question, then, I guess I mostly define myself by my loves. I’ll do my best to continue evolving, but in the end? I hope I’ll still be defining myself through the same means–by my loves.
How about you? Do you define yourself by the way you feel, or the things you think and do? What about your intentions? Do they count? If you could create your own, ideal world, what would it be?