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So, Tell Me About Yourself

Even though my dad calls me self-obsessed sometimes, I find it hard to write about myself.

Bios are one thing. For a program, I usually just rattle off my degrees, and two or three past projects. No biggie.

But writing for an extended time about yourself, like a paragraph, or a whole page? It’s like…what do you do?

Well, there’s one thing. Who better to write about you than yourself? You’ve been living with yourself for your whole life, and chances are you know yourself pretty well, unless you’re prone to fugue states or have spent most of your life in a coma, in which case you probably wouldn’t be in the position of writing a memoir (The Diving Bell and Butterfly excluded). But there’s also the intense pressure that comes with it; what if you write something that sounds stupid or unimportant in retrospect. What if you write something about yourself that’s just plain wrong, based on an incorrect memory of people/things/events? And how do you write about yourself without being so gosh-darned self-serving?

Here are a few ways to write about yourself.

1. I’m Awesome

You’ve probably accomplished some stuff and probably prevailed over adversity at least once in your life, so write about that. You can write about yourself as a child prodigy. You can write about learning how to play the piano, or how you were captain of the varsity lacrosse team, sang in a choir, won a spelling bee, or had your poem published in a school/local newspaper. These are all things that happened to you, so they’re factual, at least. Transitioning into adulthood, you graduated high school and got a college scholarship? That’s perfect. So many Americans (and people in other countries) do not or cannot do that. You studied abroad in China? Great, there’s a chapter right there – it doesn’t matter that it was on your parents’ dime and you drank a lot while you were there, at least you went on an adventure across the world alone and met new people. You had family, friends, and pets that you adored and adored you? They’ll work as supporting characters, mile markers on your just to becoming the amazing person you are today.

This is problematic, because inevitably, you’ll slip up somewhere and someone will notice. Or, someone reading it will pick out the one detail that you made seem bigger than it was. “So, you were a Boy Scout? Tell me about that,” someone will ask, and you’ll struggle to cover up the fact that you never made Eagle Scout and dropped out after a year and a half because you decided you liked riding your bike around the neighborhood and watching TV better. Also, inevitably, you can come off sounding like an incredible jackass, making everyone else seem inferior. Or that you enjoy tooting your own horn so much that you could join an orchestra.

2. I’ve Suffered a Lot and I’m Stronger Now

Modesty could be the best policy. You were born in a hospital, parents got divorced, didn’t make the basketball team, got the worst part in the play, accidentally broke your great aunt’s glasses at Thanksgiving dinner, and didn’t get your first kiss until you were 21. Or, all those times you had to miss school because of illness, or that you knew some people and they died and that sucked. But through it all, you managed to stick around and you don’t know how but somehow you’re here for a higher purpose.

Billy, don’t be a hero – your life’s not all crap and you know it. It’s like those kids in art class in third grade who were all, “my painting is the worst in the class,” only to make you feel sorry for them and then tell them that it was good. Looking back, I probably should have said, “Yeah, you’re right, your painting does suck, and you’re also not great at other things either.” But then you’d probably get told on and have to spend recess sitting alone in the corner, which isn’t too bad because the other kids are smelly anyway and you can work on your plans for world domination.

And now for something completely different…

3. This is me, total honesty. Just me.

You’ve written a bunch of stuff down, but since it triggers bad memories, or you don’t want people to know, or that is embarrassing or embarrasses someone else or that is boring or that never really happened, or did, but not the way that you recall it. So you erase all that and start with the facts. You were born, on a day ending in Y, in a hospital, you had parents and a sister and a bedroom in a house, took a bus to school, had a bunch of friends, and then went to college or entered the workforce and did stuff. Then you erase all that stuff, because who’d want to read that, and then go back to numbers 1 or 2.

In conclusion, you just can’t win. You either come off sounding like an incredible jackass or that your life is completely morbid or that you’re so normal that you’re mundane or that you hate yourself. One or more of which might be true, but you don’t want people to know that. So now you’re tasked with finding an official biographer, which is probably going to cost you money.

If I ever get around to writing it, my memoir is probably going to be a clusterfumble.

See ya in the Marshalls clearance aisle!

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4

Finish This…

Wow, a daytime post! It’s been weird the past few days, I’ve woken up between 7-8 AM for no reason.

So, I was cruising through my Reader and noticed a writing challenge set up by a person I follow named Nicole. She set up a weekly writing challenge of finishing sentences based on prompts. I’m not sure about doing this every week, but I’m always up for a challenge and maybe it’ll inspire a future post, so here we go:

1. If I could make anything grow on trees, it would be…okay, I’ll admit it, my first answer was money, but come on, that was yours too. Hmm…what do I need that could conceivably grow on a tree? This is kind of out there, but suppose you could plant an odd sock in the ground and it would sprout even pairs of socks? That could be useful – I always seem to be running out of socks.

2. I can’t stop smiling…when someone says something nice to me. I’ve been subject to so many hurtful statements about me said to me to my face throughout my life (my personality, my habits, etc.) so receiving praise makes me smile. Especially after I’ve performed in a show or delivered a presentation in class/at a conference. Unexpected praise or just a general nice greeting, comment, or interested question work as well; I’m not a tough customer. I also find myself smiling when I’m in the department. Mostly it’s out of nervousness, but sometimes I just don’t want to be that person who makes everybody angry just by walking into a room; quite the opposite.

3. I get back to nature by…geocaching, duh. In my high school days when caches were not so plentiful, I remember days doing several hours of hiking through the woods to get one geocache, if we were lucky. Nowadays, give me a moderately tough or creative urban/suburban cache that doesn’t involve as much woods over a bushwhack/long hike any day. Easy-medium caches hidden at places with awesome scenic views are the best; WalMart parking lot light poles and guardrails get tiring after a little while. Some light hiking is good, but not like that time where I almost lost it in Baytown, or that time in Katy where I stupidly went caching by the side of a gravel road in triple-digit heat.

4. I dread washing…dishes. That was easy. My way of washing dishes involves letting them soak and then scrub (ugh, hate that word) clean in an “I-need-to-clean-all-the-things” frenzy. Dishwashers are useful for this purpose, even though my mom says that they’re basically just sterilizers and you need to clean them thoroughly before putting them in. The thing I dislike about the dishwasher is unloading it, especially in my current apartment where the cupboards are about one inch too high for me to reach unless I stand on my tiptoes, which I usually do, hoping I won’t cause an avalanche of dishes on my head. In fact, when I hosted those three swing dancers from Minnesota in my apartment, one of them happened to be unusually tall, and quite easily put my washed dishes away for me, which was one of the best hosting gifts I’ve gotten, ever.

So there you have it, my first Finish This. The challenge requires you to comment on three others’ lists, so I’ll be doing that now. But not before a ironic gif.