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We Are More Than Toasters

February 3, 2009

I spent some time last night with a truly lovely friend. (Hi Amanda!) She is the kind of person that makes you feel so at ease with yourself that you actually get excited just because you get to be you.  (She even brought me a piece of cake which was so cute of her (And DELICIOUS) that I squealed a little. )

We talked a lot the whole night about what it means to find out who you are. As I was driving home, I started thinking about what it is exactly that we’re looking for. Sometimes I think we as people search for ourselves as if we are looking for this one huge thing, like once we make this singular discovery of this unnamed thing, we have discovered all of who we are and can stop looking now that we know. Allow me in reply to quote a wise philosopher from 1994, Angela Chase: “People are always saying you should be yourself, like yourself is this definite thing, like a toaster. Like you know what it is even. But every so often I’ll have, like, a moment, where just being myself in my life right where I am is, like, enough.”

I would argue that who a person is is much more complicated and, at the same time, much more simple. We’re a melange of preferences, choices, ideas, philosophies, passions, values and mannerisms. Sometimes finding who we are isn’t stumbling across some grand ideal that defines us from head to toe, but rather a daily reevaluation of the thousands of small things that are fit together to form a bigger whole.

I will devour boxes of clementines, but don’t like eating oranges.

I cover my mouth when I smile.

Injustice ignites me like a firecracker.

High heels bore me.

Sometimes I don’t wear socks to bed on cold nights, just to feel the softness of clean sheets on my toes.

I like peeling off the lint from the dryer trap.

I don’t like crying in front of anyone.

I can hug complete strangers without feeling awkward about it.

I always head-bang to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

I have a growing fondness for folk music.

I haven’t listened to any radio station but NPR for years.

I will always look up to my sisters.

I like standing in the falling snow and closing my eyes, just so that snowflakes will stick to my eyelashes.

I visit a library, bookstore or both in every city I go to.

I’m shy even when I know I don’t need to be.

I am an Anglophile to a heartbreaking degree and miss that silly little island all the time.

I was watching “I’m Not There” (the biopic of Bob Dylan) with my roommate Kim one time. It was kind of a weird movie but one line of it stuck with me. There was this part where one of the characters of Bob Dylan, named Robbie, is on a date with this pretty French girl. Her first question to him was this:  “I would like to know what is at the center of your world.” I think it’s a valid and frankly, profound, question, one worth asking every day.

Our search for self ceases to be about one definitive thing — that idea splits apart, shattering like glass shards, breaking down into every day, hour, minute, second, breath. I get frustrated sometimes by my lack of grand, life-defining moments but am starting to see that I don’t need to them to know who I am. I am a child of God first, and everything else is just details that I get to spend the rest of my life figuring out. And it’s the details that make us so beautiful.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Amanda permalink
    February 4, 2009 1:33 pm


    I just journaled that for the next week I would like to write down things about “myself” things that aren’t changes by who I am around or what setting I am in. I guess I was hoping to find the “who am I” in doing this. Then before I started I thought I should read your blog…and TADAH, it makes more sense for me to write down
    1. Child of god
    2. A person who will spend the rest of my life figuring out exactly who I am
    3. And I think I am finally OK with that because as long as the list might get of what I like and don’t like….I’m not a list!

  2. Victor permalink
    February 4, 2009 2:34 pm

    Gooood post, Caroline.

    And I love the question posed by the pretty French girl.

  3. Caroline permalink*
    February 4, 2009 3:08 pm


    Hello back!! I think your journal idea sounds like a worthy project and I hope it goes well.

    I like what you said, “I’m not a list!” How true…and how easily I forget that sometimes. Well done, you! 🙂

  4. Caroline permalink*
    February 4, 2009 3:09 pm


    Thanks! And isn’t that a great question? However, Robbie’s answer in the film was, “Well, I’m 22, so I guess me.” True…but obnoxious. Partially obnoxious because it is so true for me. And I don’t want it to be.

    See you tonight!

  5. James permalink
    February 5, 2009 2:50 pm

    I just watched “I’m Not There” due to the wonderful part of my life that is now netflix. I honestly didn’t like the movie all that much, but it was an interesting portrayal of his life. I love his music, though. That same line actually stuck out for me as well when I watched it.

    I don’t think people can ever really discover “who they are” because it is something that is constantly changing. It is like trying to give one name to all the seasons, or chasing after something that is always moving the same speed as you, like an animal chasing its tail.

    It always seems to come back to action for me. Actions really define your life. And when people say they are seeking out who they are, I think it means their actions aren’t matching up with their beliefs, which makes them unhappy. They may not even know what they believe about this life, and so at that point they don’t really “know who they are.” And so they try different actions until something clicks, the square slides into place when before it was trying to cram into the triangle. That is when you find your “bliss”, your center, where your outside matches the inside.

    The problem is that the inside keeps changing, with the passing of the seasons, and the addition of experiences, the rolling of the years. You can’t follow a cookie cutter pattern in your life and actions. You must keep a vigil of what is going on inside, be mindful of your “soul,” take an inventory every now and again.

    As I drove home from work the other night, following the road along the lake with icy rock cliffs and shimmering lights, I thought about how different the world looks in such a small amount of time. It also occured to me that we probably have seasons within ourselves that we most likely aren’t even aware of, cycles that last weeks, months, even patterns that are years long…. and in the end, your entire life is a season.

    But I dunno, my eyes are bloodshot and I am tired from working 13 hour days all week. Well, back to work! =)

  6. Caroline permalink*
    February 5, 2009 3:06 pm


    I also have become very good friends with Netflix. It’s one of those things that I can’t understand how I lived so long without it. :p Okay, maybe not that drastic.

    I definitely am alongside you about the “always changing” thing. The more I have had time to myself, like real time, over the past few months, the more I am seeing the seasons within myself and recognizing that I don’t think I will ever be stationary in my search for myself, for life, for passion, for justice, for God. It’s always dynamic, never static.

    Someday we’ll get to talk for real, face to face, perhaps over some eggrolls (or cheese if we go to Ingersoll), instead of on here. I really do miss you.

  7. James permalink
    February 5, 2009 5:37 pm

    Eggrolls and Caroline would be the perfect thing for the heart of winter.

  8. Glo permalink
    February 6, 2009 6:22 pm

    The end of this post reminds me of that “25 things” post that is going around on facebook. However, yours is much more sophisticated 🙂

  9. Caroline permalink*
    February 7, 2009 8:32 pm

    Glo, I do believe you’re right. Perhaps they are having some kind of weird pull on my psyche.

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