March 21, 2006

Define me - I think not.

Results of a test I took a while back:


You're blue - the most soothing shade of the spectrum. The color of a clear summer sky or a deep, reflective ocean, blue has traditionally symbolized trust, solitude, and loyalty. Most likely a thoughtful person who values spending some time on your own, you'd rather connect deeply with a few people than have a bunch of slight acquaintances. Luckily, making close friends isn't that hard, since people are naturally attracted to you - they're soothed by your calming presence. Cool and collected, you rarely overreact. Instead, you think things through before coming to a decision. That level-headed, thoughtful approach to life is patently blue - and patently you!

I remember getting this result back and thinking, most of it is true, but it's only me for the moment. Funny how the option you choose gets you a particular result. I might be blue right now but I have been red, yellow, white and black as my own way. And yes, I know you can't take this as truth and live your life by it but it led me to wondering how we live our lives being defined. Sometimes we consciously choose to define ourselves and other times we fall into categories. Which led me to question: "Why are we always defined? Why can't we just be?"

I am defined as a South Indian Tamil Brahmin girl. Did I define myself this way - perhaps I did earlier on. Along with this definition comes many assumptions of character, speech and behaviour. Some expected, some assumed, some taken for granted. There's nothing wrong with it per say, but if that's all I am and if I am told because I am all this I should believe in such and such things and behave in defined pre-existing ways - then sorry, I'd rather be undefined. A friend called me an anomaly the other day and I remember feeling proud. Go figure. :)

I read an interesting point in the book called 'The Zahir' (by Paulo Caelo). Before I get into the point, I have to say that this is an amazing book. It really spoke to me. (Okay, yes, a lot of things speak to me). The book has expressed so much of what I'm thinking and feeling and learning. Anyway, the protagonist talks about railway measurements and links it to how we're all defined with a similar idea in mind. We stick to our definitions, well most of us do, and we're happy to abide by them. Should someone question it and step out of life we are quick to judge and try to rope them back in. It's a pre-disposed mindset that needs some questioning and fine tuning. Instead of focusing on character traits and defining ourselves as good, caring, thoughtful, thought-provoking, pleasant, angry, manipulative, cynical, et al we first call ourselves Asian, Hispanic, Indian, Canadian, American, black, white, brown, etc.etc. While sometimes it is easy to identify someone as 'that white guy gave me this' as opposed to 'see that caring guy walking away?' *lol* <-- just trying to imagine someone's face when I tried to explain something to them in that manner.

Anyway, what brought this topic about? Other than thoughts from the results of the colour test, I was beginning to wonder if anyone saw me as anything other than female Indian. I understand, it's the first judgement made when you only see someone and don't get to know them. But my point is many a time, a person gets stuck simply on the cultural and outward description. I'm also fighting against the imposed beliefs that comes along with the title 'South Indian Brahmin Girl'.

How would you like to "define" yourself?


Aarthi Bharath said...

When you do not wish to define yourself, why even ask someone else how they would define? Probably, there are quite a lot of people who might be inline with what you think. But does is really matter what people think about you? It is very normal that stereotyping is a way of life in any part of the world. But to take or leave it is left to us. Just because someone stereotypes you or expects you to behave in a specific manner should not really stop you from doing the right thing.

Now again, what is right and wrong will become a different topic of discussion altogether ;-)

Vee said...

First off: wow, something made you actually comment! :)

Secondly: I asked people how they'd define themselves to see what responses I'd get and more importantly to hopefully get them thinking about this. But then I realized I should rephrase it as how do you see yourself?

Thirdly: I agree stereotypes are everywhere in this world. What I was trying to say was why have stereotypes at all especially based on one's race etc. Also saying it and actually living it are two very different things.

Fourth-ly: No, I don't care what people think of me in those terms. But yes, I would like my parents to think I was a good daughter, I would like to be thought of as kind and friendly. But not automatically assumed to be orthodox or not-fun because I'm a Tamil Iyer girl. A lot of labels and connotations come up in everyday living and I was simply trying to get people to think otherwise because it is important that they do so. Why is it important? So we can move past things we sometimes use to instigate fights and enemities and instead actually realize that we all belong to the same race. I know it'll takes years and years, but roaming around this planet as one individual living your life not caring of how others may perceive you isn't going to cut it.

Perhaps this will, in some tiny way, lead to an inner awakening.

Gary said...

This is a huge topic. I do indeed move in a human world filled with projections, assumptions, stereotypes and assorted judgements. This is not necessarily bad, but it seems wise to understand it when trying to know myself and it is wise to observe my own way of seeing others.

Why? Because I want to live a good life, be an open person, a loving person and someone who is able to know individuals by who I discover them to be, rather than by their appearance or background. This goes for the person serving me coffee at Starbucks to a close friend...

I find myself intolerant of intolerance (maybe a contradiction :)

It's because I know that the life or soul arriving in each infant is pure and not loaded with the baggage noted above. It will be loaded soon enough, but if only we could see each other as those souls or spirits - maybe it would be a little nicer to exist here together on planet earth.

Interesting discussion!

Lindsay Lobe said...

Blue is my favourite colour.

What makes us humans is our consciousness.
It’s devilishly difficult to define, but formulated within us and likely to emerge to become clearer in our life experiences. Our culture also defines us to the extent we are unique and have different tendencies and temperaments.

One of the great joys in life is getting to know people better and keeping an open mind, as you find they think more deeply that previously you assumed.
For most foke it’s a case of fear of embarrassment, to make a fool of themselves so it’s good to provide a supportive caring and interested outlook that enable people to be completely relaxed, as you might discover the true richness of their souls!!
When I was younger I felt shy and self concusses but I eventually realised we are hesitant to reveal too much of ourselves, through fear of appearing foolish. Nothing could be further from the truth. I often say to people “The only silly question is the one that is not asked “. A nice post and an interesting subject.
Best wishes