Who are you? Are you that person all the time? Who are you on the inside? Who are you on the outside? Are you the same person with everyone in your life? Are you the same person in private as in public?
The answer for me, and I’ll make a broad sweeping assumption (even thought I said I wouldn’t!)… for most of us is no. I’m not always the same person. I’m different from moment to moment. And given that there is no consistency to who I am, I am nobody. But also anybody. There has been so much written about the subject of Identity, from many different angles. It’s a biggie…
From a Yoga perspective there is the concept of unity versus duality. There is no such thing as separateness. We are all part of the same thing. There is no you or me. The So Ham mantra is a Yoga cornerstone. It means “I am that, That I am”.
From the aspect of literary theory there is the idea of the “I” that writes versus the “I that is written”. Murray Bail, a wonderful Australian writer explores this concept in many of his short stories; The relationship between language and reality.
This is a HUGE topic, and one that I won’t try and do full justice to. Instead I’ll take a little bite out of the elephant and be content with discussing that bit…
…The happening in my life that lead me to want to write about this was realising that I am known as two different people depending on how well you know me.
I was chatting to a friend last night and she mentioned that her husband is ‘Tony’ at work and ‘Anthony’ at home. So there’s Work-Tony and Home-Anthony. And I just realised it is the same for me. I am Leonie to work contacts and acquaintances but ‘Loni’ to family and close friends.
The particular friend I was talking to still knows me as ‘Leonie’. She’s a relatively new friend but definitely part of my inner sanctum. We were walking on the beach during this conversation… I stopped abruptly and told her it was time to call me “Loni”!
Do you have a nickname? Do you ever have to go through the process of asking someone to call you something different? It feels kind of unnatural, but then also unnatural for a close friend to still call you by your formal name.
The older I get, the more I want to be knows as Loni and not Leonie. And the more I will request to be called that.
However sometimes it is nice to be known as ‘Leonie’… With an Australian accent it sounds kind of harsh and nasally but in most European accents it sounds much prettier. Like Peone (with an ‘L’ instead of a ‘P’) as in Peone Rose… So if you have a European accent you can call me Leonie!
The other day my Hungarian Yoga teacher asked me the origin of my name. He wondered if it was french. I just went along with it and said “yes, I think so”!! Haha, what a fraud I am! (I am a sixth generation child of pastoral settlers.)
Isn’t it interesting how we construct our identities.
So anyway back to my point. Generally speaking when I’m “Leonie” (unless it is “Leonie” said with a pretty European accent) I am formal Leonie, professional Leonie, acquaintance Leonie. I’m a little reserved, I’m predictable and dependable. I’m strong and independent. I’m probably a caricature. But of what?
When I’m Loni I’m relaxed, creative, emotional, affectionate and vulnerable. I like the sound of those qualities more than “reserved, predictable, dependable”. Blah, how bland.
But is it appropriate to be an open book to anyone and everyone? If I introduced myself as Loni to a new client for example would that be appropriate? Have I just built up unnecessary constraints and separateness that keep me in the world of duality? Does it matter what I call myself? Is that in essence creating separateness? Is there really such a thing as ‘Identity’? Or is it all egotistical self obsession?
Or perhaps this post is a total waste of time since the “I” that writes might be vastly different to the “I” on this page.
“I”! Who the bloody hell are you?
We get so obsessed with defining ourselves. Maybe we should just give ourselves the freedom of being nothing and everything.
You can call me Loni. 🙂
This is Day 11 of a 30 day writing challenge
inspired by Matt Cutts on TED Talks.