Early yesterday morning, I received a spam message asking “ARE YOU UP TO THE CHALLENGE TO INVENT REBEKAH [SURNAME]?”
Obviously, a well-placed comma would have clarified the question: “Are you up to the challenge to invent, Rebekah [Surname]?” The sender was hawking patents.
But being groggy, I interpreted the question as “ARE YOU UP TO THE CHALLENGE OF INVENTING REBEKAH?”
While most of us aren’t bound for Hollywood or drawn to personal branding, we still create public personas.
We are all inventors and all performers; to some extent, we can choose our education, career, social circle, religion, and political positions. On top of those basics, we may consciously choose our speech (drawl, Queen’s English, salty sailor), body language, carefully cultivated wardrobes, grooming, and manners/mannerisms. We may even experiment with personality traits by attempting to seem more spunky, aloof, gracious, haughty, sultry, boyish, earnest, aristocratic, blunt, ladylike, macho, and so on.
Many of these characteristics are mere habits. We’re in the habit of speaking softly, wearing stirrup pants, or flipping off pedestrians; but those habits don’t have to define us. Over a lifetime, we all evolve and shed some old identity markers. If a few of your traits or characteristics aren’t serving you, it’s not evil or “inauthentic” to cultivate new ones.
Back when I was an unhappy, struggling music student, my ultra-supportive accompanist said I was in a chrysalis, preparing to emerge as a butterfly.
Years later, I still feel like a cocoon full of liquid— post-caterpillar, but pre-butterfly, wondering how to grow and half-afraid of staying soupy forever.
Over the past two months, I’ve spent hours thinking about my future, my values, and where in hell this blog is going. I’ve pored over books about style, pondered ethical dilemmas, consulted trusty friends, and consumed gallons of herbal tea— soul-searching is thirsty work.
All this mulling has forced me to see that my life and personal identity have stalled in a rut of aimless sloth. You might guess that by seeing me wear the same ratty sweatpants four days a week.
Readers, let’s talk about self-invention.
Are YOU up to the challenge of inventing yourself? Have you reinvented yourself in the past?