Wow, it’s been a long time since I wrote here.
I tend to be a pretty private person and I’m also really self-conscious about my writing, which means I end up staying away from most forms of social media and blogging these days, though I consume a fair amount and admire people who seem to be able to manage it without panic attacks.
I originally started this blog as a way to talk about organization more from a taxonomy/museum perspective. This is more of a diary post but I guess in a way it’s about categorizing myself and understanding how my objects are a reflection on me.
I also decided to come back here to work through this, because I’ve been thinking a lot about how I want to become more brave, put myself “out there” more, and because it’s probably good for me.
So I’ve been going through all my stuff. I read that Marie Kondo book and hated it so that’s not what I’m doing, but I do find myself pretty stressed by clutter. And also, I realized that I was getting annoyed with my husband’s clutter but being kind of blind to my own (thanks Gretchen Rubin) so, I decided to focus on my crap first and then revisit the topic from a relationship perspective if need be.
And I noticed that most of my stuff reflects who I was, and not who I am. Not that those aren’t related people, but I don’t do many of the things I have supplies and books for anymore. With books, in particular, I’m a fan of keeping things as reference – you never know when you might want to look at that book of Russian film posters (turns out my 2 year old is a big fan). But what about art supplies that have gone through multiple moves with me, been re-organized many times, but not used in .. I don’t even know how long? Is it worth keeping them in case I one day decide to make things? Am I selfishly keeping them from others by not just donating them to the re-use center?
I think more than anything I worry that getting rid of these things will somehow diminish this part of my identity as a creative person that I keep holding onto. My belongings reflect these identities and probably more I’m not thinking of: mom, artist, writer, musician, playing card collector, medievalist, taxonomist, cook, tailor, printer. But which of those am I now? Which ones are the past, and which ones are aspirational? It feels like giving some of those things up means giving up on pieces of myself. Admitting something about myself … that I’m not as creative as I thought I was? That I just don’t have time to make art anymore? I don’t know.
Going through those things we have
- Mom – I have a 2 year old. So yeah, I’m pretty much in full mom mode for the next forever. And I like it. I love being a mom. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever done. That aspect of my identity is not going away, nor would I want it to. It does however leave a lot less room for other aspects of my identity and force some choices.
- Artist – Let’s face facts, I have not been an artist for a long time. I’ve done a couple of little projects here and there but most of my art these days is crafty stuff for my kid. And even when I was an artist, I kind of feel like it was never really an identity that fit me well. I think I am a creative person. I don’t know that I am an artist. This is one of those aspects of myself that I’ve been struggling to understand if it was always aspirational/based on expectations that others had of me (hi Mom), or truly something I desired. I don’t know.
- Writer – this is something I’ve always wanted to do ever since I was a little kid. Over the years I’ve become more and more self-conscious about it to the point that I almost never do it even for myself. But I think about it, a lot. So it seems silly that I’m not doing it.
- Musician – this is part of why I’m hesitant to give up on the aspirational/past interests. I started college (over 20 years ago) as a music major. Ended up deciding it was not what I wanted to focus on and completely stopped playing music. Didn’t refer to myself as a musician – I had thought about it a lot at the time and made a conscious decision to leave that in my past in favor of other interests. But then I had a kid and I got the itch to learn the ukulele. My brother gave me one and it was like all of a sudden I turned the music part of my brain back on … all that music instruction and theory came back to me. I ramped up pretty quickly and now I play pretty much every day. I love it and really value what it’s added back to my life. And if you’d asked me two years ago if I was a musician I would have said “I used to play music” without much regret.
- Playing card collector – I love playing cards and always have. Something about the design, the way a single deck can be used to play infinite games … I just really like cards. The problem with cards is, once people know you collect them you get a lot of weird souvenir decks as gifts from well-meaning family and friends. I’m actually not much of a collector, mentality-wise … I like collecting books ABOUT things I’m into, but I don’t really need the actual things so much.
- Medievalist – long ago in undergrad I was a medieval history major. I really enjoyed it, and still do love all history and in particular history of the medieval era. Every once in a while I pick up one of my old books from school and read it. Even though these aren’t things I look at all the time, I feel like this is an interest of mine that has remained as strong throughout the years even as it has changed in focus.
- Taxonomist – a relatively new addition to my set, I started pursuing a taxonomist career path in 2013 though I’d been doing sort of related stuff for some time. I love my career. This is an interest that I feel unambiguous about.
- Cook – this one is kinda hard because you have to eat. I do love cooking. I don’t get as much of a chance to be creative with it as I used to these days. My husband has a lot of food sensitivities and most times it just doesn’t make sense to make a meal that he can’t eat, so a lot of things I like or want to try go unmade, especially now that I work from home and can’t even foist things on my coworkers. This is one I feel lies a little dormant, like the interest is still there but I feel kind of unable to do much with it.
- Tailor – this one is definitely aspirational and almost always has been. My mom is an incredibly talented sewer and always wanted me to take an interest. I am just not that into clothing. I do like well-made clothing and admire people who can do it, but for me the interest just isn’t there and I also don’t feel like I have the space in which to do it. It takes a lot of supplies and room, and it’s not something that comes easily to me which means I have a hard time prioritizing it in front of things that do, like music, when I only have so much time in a day. I have a lot of sewing books and supplies and I’d love to think of myself as a person who makes their own clothes but realistically, I don’t, and I think I keep a lot of stuff out of guilt or wanting to please my mom.
- Printer – another aspirational one. I tried really hard to be a printmaker when I was younger. Did some pretty nice linocuts. Had some printing presses. But I never got very good at it and I never took any classes in it. I have a ton of books and still some supplies but I let my self consciousness get the better of me and I very rarely actually put work into the world. I regret this a lot, but I also don’t know if this is something I want to re-introduce into my life. I worry this one is like music. I’m going to give it up and then 10 years from now regret giving up all my stuff.
One identity not reflected here that I really really want and think about a lot is a person that has a “nice house”. I don’t know what this means to me exactly but I know I don’t have one and I feel like I’m being kept from having one by a few different external forces. If this is really important I probably need to find the strength and agency in me to make it happen. But I want to think about those other identities and shed what I am not using first.