Thursday, January 17, 2008

Who We Really Are

Writing the Geek piece got me wondering what sort of cultural bending I’ve done in the past. I’m always amazed by people who get so wrapped up in a culture not of their own and they convince themselves they are someone else entirely. I know several people who have convinced themselves that they are Native Americans, (OK I say Indian because I’ve spoken with several Indians who hate being called Native Americans). I know we’ve all seen the white rappers, OMFG! What’s up with that? That whole thing is worse than faking an Italian accent.

Once I bent what I considered my safety zone. I grew up in an affluent suburb. I had a lot of friends who came from wealthy families. My family was far from wealthy, but I was accepted unconditionally by the families of my wealthy friends.

While associating with the wealthy I learned how to behave and how not to behave. I thought I had developed the tools to be functional within the culture of the wealthy but my confidence was shaken in the field one day.

It was during the time when I was scouting to make a new life for myself in Hawaii. I booked myself for a week on Oahu, a week on Maui, and another week on the Big Island of Hawaii and then back to Oahu to finish my consideration. It was on the Big Island that I had booked myself in a luxury resort. I felt uncomfortable from the moment I started driving down the long palm bordered black drive way across lava field. There was all this artificial looking, too green grass on the golf course. There were ponds and waterfalls and fountains with the architecturally superior hotel in the background.

Just driving up and checking in made me feel like I did not belong there. I may have looked like I belonged there with my shinny new rental car and my linen jacket and very cool sun glasses, but I knew better. I was nearly overcome with anxiety.

Back in New Jersey some of my friends lived in actual mansions, nothing like the McMansions that are trying to be passed off as the homes of the wealthy these days. I cruised with them on their yachts in the Hudson River. I drove their Jaguars and attended their weddings at the Waldorf. I vacationed with them in their summer homes. I thought I had the culture down pat, but when I went at it solo my wings melted. I was not that at all the person I practiced to be. I did have a very good income, but I wasn't and never would be at the sustainable income level where luxuries such as that resort would become common place to me.

I finally found my place in society. I live a simple life with only a few pretenses. As it turns out I wake up early every morning, drink coffee, post an article on my blog and then I put on a pair of Wellingtons and I go out and clean horse stalls. Even when I am out of town and someone else is tending to my duties at home; I still wake up at 5:00am as though I need to partake in my normal morning ritual.

This is who I am and who I really want to be. I can pretend to be someone else on occasion, but every morning my day starts out the same way and thus becomes how I ultimately define myself.


Blogger Auntie said...

Would you ever in your wildest dreams as a young person that you were really meant to be a farmer? Yet, that's all I can picture you as, as you are now.

5:52 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

I too grew up learning how to "walk the walk and talk the talk" (wealthy family although not my own parents). But I never wanted more than a simple, comfortable life. Strange how life turns out - that's exactly where I am right now and happy to be here. The aspiring to be what I am not and to possess what I do not need is over. (Your post struck a nerve today...)

6:10 AM  
Blogger Hahn at Home said...

You made it possible to be who you are. Wish that we all did that.

7:06 AM  
Blogger Chantel said...

I think as humans our job is to be flexible and adaptable to our surroundings or else evolution as a fundemental idea for humanity is a complete fraud. This is how we function in different settings and for some of us its more of a consciuos journey. It pains me to see people who can't adapt and more often than not its the rich who can't adapt for a less than formal lifestyle.

This is how I learned to be a mother and parent after being a street kid or an abused child. These behaviors are learned and unlearned as much as they are taught.

10:32 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Auntie, that's because you've seen me in town with manure on my boots and my Cavernham hat. The image is now burned in your mind.

Beth, maybe it's a maturity thing.

Lori, be your self in No.Cal this weekend.

Chantel, that reply just raised the IQ of this site. After reading your writing for probably a year now I realize that you don't give up, at least not before at least a couple drinks ; ) Oops, you did give up smoking. Quitter!

12:45 PM  
Blogger weese said...

I also like Chantel's comment.
We are but an adaptation in progress.

2:40 PM  
Anonymous columbiacontrolfreak said...

I am who I am. I don't wear make up to disguise my complexion, I don't dye my graying hair, I don't cinch my fat into girdles to try and look thinner. My house is usually a cluttery mess and my car smells distinctly of dogs and potting soil.

Isn't it sad how many plastic people you see everyday trying to be other than who they are? I work with one and her whole life is one disappointment after another because she never can attain the perfect plastic life she sees in the magazines.

10:34 AM  

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