When asked to describe myself, I often can’t. What are the defining characteristics that make up a person? How can you just pick one? Or, most importantly, who does the person who is asking that question want me to be? It’s not that I am a complicated person with low or super high self-esteem, although I might be, or that I just want to please everyone, although that could be true, I just have trouble expressing exactly who I am.
Am I creative? Maybe sometimes- I am having a lot of fun playing around with photography and would like to take a class sometime when I am Bogota. I am enjoying writing the Llama Diaries much more than I thought I would and would like to learn more about creative writing.
Am I relational? I like people, but I can also be awkward. I like them to take the first step, and then I follow along. I need alone space, but I also get lonely. I am a good listener but find it difficult to share my deepest thoughts with others.
Am I intelligent? I love learning, I love reading, I love thinking about things, but sometimes I have trouble with application and putting everything together. I understand the problems in Mampuján but I don’t know how to fix them, nor do I think that is my job. I feel like I fake smartness a lot.
As a response to these questions, I have recently become fascinated (and perhaps obsessed), with the ennegram, a 9 number system for understanding behaviour patterns and motivations. I have self-identified as a nine, the peacemaker personality, and have become slightly infatuated with examining my behaviour through that lens. I even get the ennegram thought of the day for nines delivered directly to my inbox.
Tied to motivations are the questions of how in world I ended up here, in this community. What steps did I take or not take to be writing this blog on my bed under my mosquito net on the coast of Colombia where I am engaged in community accompaniment? Let me tell you, the bible-college Anna of 12 years ago had no idea or desire to be here. To be honest, there are also days when Anna of the present would like nothing more than a mouse-free house with consistently working running water, but that is the subject for another post.
I just took small steps in a different direction and gradually ended up here instead of submissively married with five kids (that’s a relief). I like to think that the Anna of 12 years ago had an adventurous streak; it was just hidden behind some bad theology and a love of junk food potlucks. After all, I am still in progress, shaping and being shaped by the world around me.
Therefore, at the back of my mind still remains a niggling doubt- is all of this self-discovery really necessary? Just as on Tapestry, isn’t the idea that I am special a little bit silly and quite a bit unrealistic? And, no matter how special or not, I am always myself. It is like asking the question of what does it mean to be human. Just like a fox cannot become more like a fox, a human being cannot become more human. Behaviour patterns can change, but what remains Anna is still Anna. Wherever I go, I bring myself along, even as I desire to become fully myself.
And what about other people? I don’t live in a vacuum. My relationships, history and context shape who I am and what I do. For example, Mampuján is changing my idea of what it means to live in a community, to see poverty, to understand dignity, and to live with less yet with more. Yet by being myself, I have the privilege to leave Mampuján and let another place shape me.
I guess we can conclude saying that a few things are certain- I don’t like yes or no answers or questions and I really want to show off my baby pictures. I will stop now, because I would prefer to hear about you- can you define yourself? Why are you the way you are?