Approaching an essay of "Describe yourself in 280 characters or less," I began to concoct a series of potential graphic novel characters, each individually feeding into my understanding of self. Character one -- infant. That’s an easy one, as I don’t remember much. Character two -- apparently malicious toddler ready to take down any foe. Okay, so you get the point, I began to imagine “characters”. This to me was an easier task than the act of condensation.
That aside, I also figured I’d ask my boyfriend, a part-time writer, to help me. Two writers. One teeny tiny task. What could happen?
Apparently, no one has ever considered placing a warning caption below essay prompts explaining the potential side-effects if one chooses to embark on the journey. This particular prompt could have been followed by:
“WARNING: applicants may be exposed to a series of unexplained emotions leading them into uncharted areas of deep anger, sadness, and regret. Caution when exploring your own identity”
In the midst of the feelings that began to arise from beginning to answer this prompt in between my now frantic sips of coffee, all of my unexplored internal issues escaped as one large conglomeration ready to demolish the relational love I had with the person sitting across my table.
So as my boyfriend and I delved into a self-exploration of my family’s history touching on finances, affection (lack of), incarceration, geographic instability, and the additive nature of all of these into one’s psyche, I found myself on the verge of strangling someone. No seriously, well no not seriously. The only thing at risk of being harmed was my physical self, as my hands began to tighten, and I gathered a series of knots at the back of my neck. Of course the coffee next to me, which I took in continuous sips that transformed into vicious gulps, did not function to sooth me but fuel me or something within me also unexplored.
Over the course of three hours I felt attacked. My boyfriend somehow managed to come around to a laughter that I felt was utterly offensive, to which he stated he wasn’t angry. To which I stated, with all my maturity, “Good for you.”
He then asked, “How would you explain this ‘argument’ to another person?”
I muffled, “He uh he kept talking instead of editing…and uh,” and as he slipped into stronger laughter, I was left in disbelief. How is it so that a history unexamined could be explored over the course of 280 characters? Well, lesson learned here is that your life is not meant to be compressed into one neatly packaged essay. Take with it what you will, the number of characters -- not cartoons -- do not determine the amount of minutes allotted for such a writing task. Anything related to the “self” can be expected to take an eternity, as the search to understand oneself feels eternal. Is there ever a point in which we truly have an ah-ha moment when seeking?
“Woo hoo! Yup, that’s me. Alright I can stop looking and finally die.” However morbid that may sound, isn’t the point of living to be in continual search for growth or for the modification of one’s identity -- even if minute or subtle?
As I write this simple message, I shall note that this assignment is not yet completed, and that’s okay apparently -- still working on acceptance. I will take each sitting for writing and editing this small intertwining blurb of devilish text, as my dose of personal therapy.
Thank you for keeping me grounded when simple phrases work against me, and threaten my self-esteem.
P.S. No one was hurt in this process of processing.