When I first created this blog at the end of last summer I saw the last few Blogging 101 assignments being posted at the same time. I was interested but not quite sure what they were and so ignored them for the most part. I was too busy settling into my new home, my new country, and my new job to really explore the idea. This year, I saw the announcement, looked into it and decided why not? Let’s give it a try! I’m about ready to make some changes to my blog and, in (yet another) transition phase in my life thought it would be a great opportunity and fun challenge. I don’t know if I’ll make it through all the prompts, but there’s no harm in trying!
Who I am and Why I’m here. That’s the prompt for today : day one. It’s always a bit of a loaded question in my opinion. It seems so simple on the surface and yet as you dig deeper the answer gets muddier and muggier, darker and even at times scarier. There are so many aspects to each of us, so many different things that make up who we are. Yes, I know the prompt wasn’t likely meant to spur a philosophical discussion on identity, but it was something I was actually pondering over just the other day, so I can’t really help myself and I’m taking you along for the journey.
To start off, I will try to give a brief introduction of myself. My name is Amory. I’m an American living (for the time being) in Europe. I’m a writer. A traveler. A teacher and a student (I believe everyone always is whether enrolled or not). An explorer. A daughter. A sister. An aunt (as of just a few months ago!). I ponder, I question. I explore and most of all I ramble (as you can see). I’m Jewish, I’m female, I’m American, I’m young, I’m old (depending on who you ask). I’m comfy slippers and pretty sundresses (even paired together as I write this). I’m not perfect although I often wish to be. (Then again I suppose life would be much less exciting if I was.) I’m all this and so much more (including overused phrases) that I keep coming back to add to this list and still feel I could continue to forevermore without ever having it complete.
I started this blog, as I said, at the end of last summer when I moved to France to teach English. I created it with a few purposes in mind : to document my travels and experiences living and working abroad, to help my family and friends in the States keep up on my adventures, and to hopefully overcome my writer’s block. It has worked in some ways and failed in others. Regardless, my year in France has now ended. I am spending the summer with friends in Rotterdam (meanwhile searching for a way to spend another year in Europe). With my year ending and new adventures awaiting me, I felt that it was time to transition my blog as well. I am hoping to redesign it (sooner rather than later) to better encompass all I am and all I want it to be going forward. We’ll see if that works out or not, but that is one of the reasons I found joining the Blogging 101 course so interesting.
Back to the identity question. I have always found it to be a deceivingly simple question. As I hinted above there are many things that make up who we are. How do we pick just one? When I was in school I also attended religious school at my synagogue once a week. In the beginning of my Freshman year our teacher posed a question to us : do we see ourselves as Jewish Americans or American Jews and why? This question shocked me. I had never thought about it before and we had a long discussion about it and the differences between each label (isn’t that a loaded term). Ever since it’s been a question to which I’ve returned and pondered over many times. Does it make a difference? Why? Should it even make a difference? There are certainly times that I’ve felt more one than the other, and also times when I felt it was a completely ridiculous and pointless question. But it brings up again that idea of how we identify ourselves. What are those most important qualities that determine who we are, how we see ourselves – how others see us – and how we present ourselves? Some people are sure of themselves and know who they are, or at least parts. Some never really know. I don’t know where I am on the spectrum. I’m still changing, still growing, and I expect I will be for the rest of my life. So maybe I’ll never have a true, solid answer.
I did get close just the other day, however. Over the past couple years, moving to University, to a new country to home, and repeat, I have gotten into the habit of decorating wherever my room with pictures. Of my friends, of my family, of myself and my adventures. I have some pictures dating back to when I was four years old and some as recent as this year (actually those still need to be printed but they’ll be added to the collection soon). Along with putting up my mezuzah, this is one of the most important and special parts of moving to a new place for me. It helps me turn that place into my home. As I was putting up the pictures in my bedroom in Rotterdam the question of identity occurred to me. In that instant, the answer was clear as day to me. Those pictures are who I am. The people and experiences in them. The friends and family I cherish, the adventures and mishaps I laugh about and share. Those are all what make me who I am. I am not one person, I am not one thing, one label, one experience. I am everything that those people and times have made me and will continue to make me. Sometimes I am disappointed in who I am. I wish I could be more or be better, but overall I am pleased and proud of who I am and I hope I continue to be in the future. And I hope I continue to see the many facets that make up who I am, and I hope you do too, for we are not meant to be static, not meant to be one thing.
I have to laugh, part of the purpose of this prompt was to help focus my blog. But this post was quite far from focused. That is me as well, I suppose, and part of the new vision I have for my blog actually. I want it to be able to encompass all I am, which is many things. That’s a focus, right? In its own backward way at least. Here’s a quick answer to the other questions attached to the prompt, though: I blog to share my experiences, my life, and my writing. I hope others will find interest in it as well. I hope that by having my blog I will keep writing when I would otherwise loose inspiration. Maybe I will even share some creative writing here one day, I would like that. As for who I want to meet, I would like to meet other writers, other travelers, other thinkers, other people! Share with them, teach them and learn from them, about anything and everything.
So, do you think I answered the prompt or just made a mess of it? Do I make any sense at all? Well I do to myself and I suppose that’s what matters in the end, but I hope I made at least one reader stop and think about what identity means to them, how they identify themselves. If you have an answer to the question of who you are, or what the word identity means to you go ahead and share it in the comments!