Thursday, February 09, 2006

in the words of Derek Zoolander, "who am I?"

"Be yourself" sounds like such simple advice, right? Who else are you going to be? I mean, it's not like I wake up in the morning and decide whether I'm going to be Queen Elizabeth, Bea Arthur, or Lucille Bluth. I don't know why I picked all old women. Maybe because I feel really old first thing in the morning.

I hear this advice all the time. It seems to be the go-to catchphrase for most situations. Job interview? Just be yourself, they'll love you. Blind date? Be yourself, and if they seem crazy, really be yourself and scare them off. Captured by pygmies in the jungle? Go ahead and be yourself, but also watch your back because those tiny, poison arrows probably really hurt.

Be yourself. It's something I've been struggling with lately and I can't figure out why. It makes me feisty at work, ready to argue with everyone even though I know that's not smart. I've always been the kind of person who just lets stuff go. I'm happier when everyone is getting along, when everything is calm. I try not to rock the boat, because I'm not a very strong swimmer and I hate wearing a life jacket.

But lately I just want to fight with everyone. Verbally. I'm not a fan of fisticuffs, except when Jack Bauer is behind them.

I'd much rather go back to being Calm!Jennie, which I have a feeling will happen in about, oh, say two days. At which point, I'll probably miss Angry!Jennie. Why do we always want to be something we're not? There have been many, MANY, times when I've wished I could be a little more serious. To be taken more seriously. I know, I know, "Jennie, why don't you stop making stupid jokes." Well, I can't. I'm missing that filter and if I didn't say the thing in my head that at least I think is funny then my brain would explode. Do you want that on your hands? Or your shirt? I'm not sure they make a laundry detergent strong enough to remove brain stains.

A couple of months ago, I found some old home movies when I was unpacking one of the forgotten boxes from my parent's attic. One was a video of my family setting up for Christmas. My dad used to put up the video camera as we decorated, facing the Christmas tree, and then hook the camera to the TV so we could watch ourselves. On this video, I'm about five or six. And I will not leave the camera alone. You can tell I'm prancing around in front of it just so I can watch myself on TV. At one point, my dad notices and says, "Jennie, I don't know why you have to be so silly all the time," sounding so tired, so annoyed. And I understand! I get mad at that little girl doing exaggerated ballet moves for her own amusement. Why can't she just sit down and act normal for once?

That never really happened. She grew up into the girl who hid food in her room because Claudia, her favorite character in The Babysitter's Club books, did the same. The teenager who, when faced with writing about what she wanted to do as a career and knowing full well that this would be placed RIGHT BESIDE her diploma for God, the principal, and her grandmother to see, wrote that she wanted to be a book-jacket-cover-writer or a bungee-cord tester, and then took the D the teacher offered instead of rewriting it. She became the woman who spends hours writing in her stupid blog, about stupid things she does, like building a fort in her living room with her friends at 5 AM, or stupid things she thinks about, like what if Hermione got pregnant at Hogwarts or whether Dwight Shrute went to regular college or community college. The woman who can't quite help being silly at least almost all of the time. But it's not her fault. She's just being herself.

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