I Know You

One of the great things about growing older is that no one gets to tell you who you are anymore. When you’re young, what you hear from friends and family often defines your sense of self. ‘Of course you’re good at ballet!’ Even when you know the truth, you often trust the opinion of others over your own.

We spend our lives seeking our true selves. Every experience, every job and each new friend helps us down the road to the big reveal. All our encounters assist in peeling back the layers until at last we can look inside and see ourselves. There you are, we might say. I know you. And the great part is, if we don’t like what we discover, we can turn ourselves around and head in a different direction.

People are often willing to help us along our journey of self discovery. “Gosh,” I said to my sisters a number of years ago. “Am I too critical?’
“Oh, thank God. Yes! We’ve been trying to tell you for ages but you’re so bloody thick!” Which is true. As my sister Jen says, my first book should be titled, “I’m Okay. You Could Be Better.” I like to think I’m just misunderstood. But now that I’ve been told, I try to bite my lip. Though, seriously. Those boots?

Two more things I’ve discovered about myself is: I’m not very brave. But I am calm in a crisis. Watch a tense movie scene and I’ll be clutching the leg of the person next to me, or hiding my face in their shoulder, which, believe me, has led to awkward conversations with strangers. I hide my eyes at scary scenes, gasp, and sometimes say things like, “Oh No! Why did you do that!” This does not make for happy seat mates at the movies.

So. Watching a movie with me might be annoying. But lose your hand in a meat grinder and I’m your girl. I’ll call 911, conjure up a tourniquet and sing softly to you until the medics arrive. I know this, because I’ve done it. That’s how I learned that I’m calm in a crisis.

I don’t like to sit. I have finger tapping, nail chewing ADD during meetings, I’ll pick any activity over gambling, which is so boring, I’d rather hammer myself in the head than do it. I like long walks on the beach, as long as the sand is firm, and dancing in the rain, but only if there’s no lighting. I’m a democratic socialist trying to understand that not every conservative idea is bad. I’m a little too guarded… Okay. That was a joke. Anyway, I’m glad I’m not sixteen anymore. It’s a relief to have a few things figured out. Now about those boots…

Published by Judith Pettersen

Judith Pettersen is an author living in Canada. She blogs about her life in the north and the ups and downs of being a writer.

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