Thursday, June 21, 2012

The mosaic of me

I was thinking the other day about why I like - or think I like - certain things and not others. Why did I avoid asparagus for so long? What was it that made me think I liked mint-chip ice cream? Then it hit me: I'm still not my own person yet.

By which I mean, I haven't figured out what *I* like. I've just sort of adopted bits and pieces of other people and fit them together into this picture of myself.

For example: Coffee. My mom drinks coffee almost obsessively. I like coffee, sort of. I'm more of a venti mocha frappuccino, extra extra mocha, light ice, extra whipped cream kind of person whereas my mom will drink her coffee black if there's no sugar or milk in the house because it's still coffee.

I cannot stand my coffee black. Just can't do it. The smell alone of black coffee often makes me want to hurl (Certain blends more than others).

My mom has a preferred blend and roast I'm sure, and I'm pretty sure it's something on the dark side of medium. Me, I want blonde. I walk into Starbucks and if I'm not getting a frappuccino, you can bet I'm ordering a blonde.

Plus, it's really funny to walk up and say "I'll have a tall blonde extra sweet." It always makes whatever male is behind me in line laugh, which also makes it a good conversation starter.

My mom isn't big on flavored coffee. I love it. French vanilla, blueberry crumble, apple tart (notice the dessert trend here) I will gladly try it at least once and as long as it's not caramel or toffee you can probably bet I'll enjoy it. My mom can barely handle the smell.

Noting all of this, it's not very fair to say that I love coffee. Because while I do enjoy the various forms coffee can come in it's not real coffee that way - as my mom and husband have both pointed out to me various times. I actually tend to prefer my blended chocolate milk with a hint of coffee, as opposed to a blended coffee with a little bit of chocolate milk.

This doesn't mean that I won't drink it from the pot. Starbucks gets expensive and sometimes I don't feel like walking or driving even as far as the 5 blocks it would take to get to the closest Starbucks. Even when I lived in Seattle and there was a Starbucks on the end of my block, I didn't always want to walk down to it and wait in line and fork over however much cash it was going to take for me to get my fix. So I drink coffee from the pot, with about half the cup full of milk and about two tablespoons (I kid you not) of sugar.

All of this considered, why do I drink coffee?

The simple answer is because my mom does. I can't remember a time where my mom wasn't drinking coffee. Even with strict orders from the doctor to cut back on her caffeine, she still drank decaf. I was allowed to drink coffee starting at 13 years old. One cup, one day out of the week. At 16 I was allowed to decide how much coffee I wanted to drink and admittedly went overboard, getting up to 5 pots a day at one point (it's really amazing I'm still alive, folks). But in all of that I've never enjoyed coffee without somewhat massive amounts of sugar and milk. So there's a piece of the mosaic. Mom's coffee obsession.

Another example: Mint chip ice cream.

For the longest time, I was pretty sure I loved mint chip ice cream. How could you not? it's mint and chocolate. Mint and chocolate go fantastically together, right?

Usually, yes.

The other day I realized that I hadn't actually had mint chip ice  cream in somewhere over five years. Considering that I'm 20 that's a really long time! So, I took the next possible opportunity and had some mint chip ice cream.

I pretty much hated it.

In fact, I disliked it so much that I wondered why I ever thought I liked it in the first place! Which got me to thinking, why *did* I think I liked mint chip ice cream? I laughed at myself when I finally discovered that I was under this - albeit mistaken - impression because of my dad, whose favorite type of ice cream is mint chip.

Me, I'm not a mint ice cream kind of person. I'm more of a chocolate ice cream with chocolate chunks and brownie bits and fudge swirls kind of person.

This is not to say that I love what my mom loves and hate what my dad loves. If that were the case, I wouldn't like fruity pebbles.

That's right, fruity pebbles. As far as I know they are my dad's favorite breakfast cereal. On my own, I probably wouldn't like them. They are tiny and they get soggy super fast and there's no real substance to them and they don't stick with you for very long. But I love them. Not as much as I love Chex or Life cereal, but almost. In fact, the one time Dearest agreed to let me buy breakfast cereal, I lost the opportunity because his usual patience was worn thin by how long it took me to decide between fruity pebbles and Chex.

Realizing these things about myself, I've begun to wonder just how much of "me" is made up of bits and pieces of other people.

Some almost funny examples:

I write my "D"s the way my dad does and my "2" the way my best friend in school did. I often find myself forming my words when I talk a little bit like Amy Pond from Doctor Who, and many of my facial expressions and body language cues change depending on who I'm around. I crochet and find it somewhat enjoyable even though I do frequently hit the "ahmagashthisissofreakingboring" wall and put it down for a few months. I enjoy anime - the blame for which may be placed almost totally on my husband's shoulders. I love many of the cosplay outfits - thanks to my husband's weird friends - and can sometimes be caught thinking about my zombie apocalypse plan rather seriously - entirely my sister in law's fault.

So many pieces of the things I would use to describe myself are actually pieces of other people's habits and interests.

Now for the serious note of this post. In speaking to Dearest about these things, he pointed out that I never really took the time to define myself. I never sat down and said "Who do I want to be?" and then worked to get there. According to him, the process of defining oneself is just like any other goal. You sit down, decide where you want to get to, write out where you want to get to, and then identify and write down where and how you'll have to change to get there. Then, you do it.

So as funny as it is to talk about my obsession with coffee and aversion to mint chip ice cream, I'm recently finding myself asking the rather daunting question that I'm sure has plagued many before me:

Who am I, really?

Who do I want to be?

And what's the difference between the two?


  1. I most definetely agree with you about the borrowed obsessions. It's a part of growing up though, both the borrowing and the giving back :-) When defining who you want to be try to remember the things that make up who you intrinsically who you are, your generosity, your scatterbrained crazy way of looking at things which always amazes me because it's such a unique perspective, your desire to help people and your wonderful laugh...some things are just who you are. They are meant to be a part of the uniqueness of you. buck them and you will always be searching for fulfillment on that path to success and never truly find it because you will still be someone else when you get there. P.S. Fruity Pebbles is my obsession. his is cookie crisp ;-)

    1. NO way fruity pebbles is your obession. Dad was always the one eating them. In fact, I distinctly remember many, many times when I'd get the "No, you can't eat those, those are Daddy's" talk about the fruity pebbles.

      But...I do believe that he loves cookie crisp...sheesh, where's my memory going?

  2. What a beautiful post! I remember in my twenties, I went through something like this, and it was life-changing, honestly. Finding out who you really are and what makes you YOU is important. Accepting the fact that other people impact you and who you are is also important. Finding the balance is the key. From the little I know about you, I think you are incredibly unique and beautiful. I think the most important thing is to love who you are at the heart of everything. I think that is a lifelong challenge. :)

    I ADORE mint chip ice cream, but I also love chocolate with lots of stuff in it. I hate fruit unless it's fresh and by itself, and even then, that can be iffy. I know when people make fun of my weird quirks that I am at least being myself. :)

  3. Yeah...I used Dad as an I couldn't very well say "Don't eat that, it's mine." Well, I could, but then I would feel bad and share's just in my wiring. Dad was both convenient and willing to be my accomplice/scapegoat ;-)

  4. I think we do all ask ourselves these questions. Then we figure out the answers and life changes us again so we start all over.
    My dad used to drink espresso black with 2 tablespoons of sugar. I couldn't choke it down for anything. But I'm not really human in the mornings before coffee with a bit of sugar and a lot of milk.

    P.S I absolutely love the things your husband says on the sidebar. I think 2 and 4 are my favorites lol.