The Problem with Identity: Can I Conceal Myself Forevermore?

I know I write this blog for you all, but a lot of times, I feel like I end up writing for myself. One time, I wrote a whole post on how I don’t get angry, then took a step back, asked myself, “What’s the point?” and threw it out (or in this day and age, deleted the file). So I try to make sure my posts are relevant to my readers, but it’s not always an easy thing to do. I was questioning these tendencies in myself, and I came to this answer: I, like pretty much everyone, want to understand myself.

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Thinking about identity makes me feel so small.

Identity is a funny thing. Is it completely shaped by us, or do other people play a part in it? Do we only have one identity, or do we have many? Is it constant, or does it change? In short, what is identity?

Yeah, I don’t think I can answer that now. I keep coming up with more questions. Then I create answers that contradict each other or that aren’t as full as I want them to be. And I keep coming back to the question, “Who am I?”

This, of course, brings me to the song of that name in the musical, Les Miserables, which is what I will focus on for the rest of this post. It doesn’t get much press, even though the music is awesome and the conflict in the words is captivating. Honestly, I like this song a lot more than “Bring Him Home,” but maybe that’s just me.

In this breathtaking moment, Jean Valjean is torn between two sides of himself—the old, selfish side that runs away from his past, and the new side of him that wants to redeem himself. And he realizes that they are both a part of who he is now. To take on the new side of himself, he must admit that he used to follow the old side. He chooses redemption by confessing his selfishness. I was absolutely in love with Valjean at this point in the non-musical movie (the one with Liam Neeson).

The conflict is so real and so relatable. How many times have we done things that we just want to erase from existence? How many times have we wanted to deny parts of ourselves? I dunno about you, but that phenomenon is certainly not foreign to me. But everything that we do, everything that we say and think, is part of our identity. Every little habit, every spoken or unspoken word defines who we are, even the things we’d like to forget.  

And so, I will leave you with this wonderful clip of Alfie Boe singing “Who Am I?”

Boe is my personal favorite musical Valjean, and I don’t really care if you don’t agree with me on that. Just don’t say that Hugh Jackman was your favorite (loved the acting, but the songs aren’t remotely in his range). Anyway, enough musical nerdiness. So long, farewell, and stay tuned for more blog posts about identity once I’ve had more time to think on it. 

Epylle Spydre

p.s. (this is the first time I’ve done a postscript that was actually written after the publication of the rest of the post). Some more thoughts on this song and this moment in Jean Valjean’s life! Perhaps even more prominently than what I was focusing on, Valjean is assessing his character. He knows that the old Valjean would yield to temptation and hide. And he’s asking if the new Valjean will follow that lead or take the path of honor. He quite literally wants to know who he is, which Valjean will win the fight. And that is why this scene is so powerful, because we all tussle with who we are, and he offers us hope that we can all resist the struggles of the flesh, that we all can be our own masters of who we are. As J. K. Rowling so wonderfully put it, “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

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Being Blonde

I was a Harvard student once. And not just any Harvard student, I was a student at Harvard Law. However, I can only remember one class that I took, and that was Criminal Law 101 with Professor Callahan. I also think I might be going crazy, because not only was I a Harvard Law Student, but I was also a salesgirl at H&H, a really big department store, AND I was on jury duty for a big murder case. I mean, how did I get all my work done? And the weirdest part is that all my memories from my Harvard Law experience involve singing and dancing. Lots of it. Sometimes, I really think my life is a musical…

Actually, I was just in “Legally Blonde: the Musical” this past year at my high school. It was such an amazing experience, and I loved it. As part of the ensemble, I had many appearances and different characters, and I liked to describe it as being schizophrenic. You should check out the musical; it’s so cute and fun. But anyways, I thought that would be a fun intro into today’s post. Since I’ve been doing heavier stuff recently, I thought I would do something lighter. So I decided that the funniest thing I could talk about would be about being blonde.

Yes, I am blonde. You’re surprised? Why thank you. I don’t write like a blonde. In fact, a lot of things about me aren’t very blonde, because I’m pretty smart. Not trying to be conceited here, but I do go to a math/science/research magnet school, so I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch if I say that I’m smart. But there’s a common misconception about smart people. Everybody that assumes all smart people have common sense. That is furthest from the truth! Now, I have to make a distinction here. There are two types of being smart: book smart and street smart. When I say smart, I mean book smart; when I say clever, I mean street smart. Okay, so back to common sense. SMART PEOPLE DON’T HAVE COMMON SENSE. Seriously. I mean, some do, but most of us don’t. I’m probably the best example, because I have soooo many blonde moments.

I love it when people start telling a blonde joke, and then they see me, and say, “Oh, I’m sorry. I wasn’t talking about you. You’re pretty smart.” I don’t get offended, because as I said before, I have SO many blonde moments. The most recent one was when I was cooking noodles. My mom’s gone to pick up my sister, so she asks me to cook our noodles. I agree, because, I mean, cooking noodles is very simple, right? It actually is if you follow instructions, which I was doing at the beginning. I was actually going so far as to measure out the 15 or so cups of water I needed, though not very diligently. Then, being the very intelligent being that I am, I put the noodles in the water then and there. You know, most people boil the water before they put the noodles in. Not me… Thankfully, I noticed my mistake right away. So I just took out the noodles and put them in a colander. Of course, that drained all my water, so I had to put it all back in. In the end, the noodles were fine; they just cooked a little bit faster than usual.

Another blonde moment was when my sister, my mom, and I were walking from the car to the house. The other two were talking about something being wrong with the shutters, but I wasn’t really listening. But I look at the shutters anyway and exclaim, “They’re different colors!” My sister facepalms, because we’d been living in this house for at least four months, and she noticed it the day we moved in…

So I really think that I should redefine the term blonde. Blonde doesn’t really mean stupid and dumb. Blonde is just a shorter version of unobservant and absent-minded. See, both of those words are 4 syllables long, but blonde is only one syllable, so it’s much easier to say. Another case of unobservance (just made up a word, Microsoft Word doesn’t like me now) was when I didn’t realize my science teacher was pregnant even though she was maybe four months along. Yeah, that’s me.

But I’m smart, so it’s okay! When I put my brain into use, I’m actually pretty smart! But I love being blonde, because my blonde moments crack me up. And I love being able to say that I’m a smart blonde. It’s great. And I have other smart blonde friends, you know who you are (; It’s also great being a blonde at the sciency nerd school I go to, ‘cause when we go to amusement parks, all the Asians and Indians can laugh at our paleness. I love the Indians and the Asians too, it’s okay.

I don’t know if this is funny anymore. I’ll stop now.

Epylle Spydre

p.s. it’s hot out, enjoy your lemonade!