Finding Identity by Writing a Bio

Posted: 16th January 2010 by admin in Uncategorized

I like to blog so writing bios is something I have done for quite awhile. But I never really realized until recently, just how important that has been in dealing with issues of identity. Until I discovered I was a TCK, I was sort of like a kite, flapping in the wind, blown this way and that, with no real direction. And the deep shame of it, was that I’m 43 years old! People expect that from you when you’re young, but when you’re in your 30’s and forties, it gets to be a little embarrassing and you start thinking that there is something definitely “wrong” with you because you can’t seem to “know thyself”, the way all your friends do. You look around and it seems like you are the only person you know who doesn’t have a firm grasp on who they are, what they like, don’t like, what their talents/strengths and weaknesses are.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been in and out of counselor’s offices, clergyman’s confessionals or living rooms, and you’ve driven everyone in your life crazy with your inability to “settle down and just be yourself.” Everyone has been telling you that since you were little : “Just be yourself”. Yeah, okay, but who is that??? Who is “myself”? There doesn’t seem to be any help for this, and if you were to run a search on amazon, about finding “identity”, the choices are quite slim. Unless you have had a problem with some sort of other social stigma (mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, etc.) the issue of dealing with “identity crisis” is hardly even mentioned, if at all.

For us TCK’s the problem of identity is less about defining ourselves as it is about “identifying ourselves”, and learning where we “stop” and others “begin”. For the TCK, the answers of learning who you are often comes at the price of self sacrifice. In other words, we seem to over-identify with others, at the expense of ourselves, and often have difficulty drawing and keeping boundaries. We give up ourselves, in order to blend in, and to “accept” other cultures, and the individuals who make up those cultures. How often have you been accused of “going native”? How often have others told you “NO, I want to know what YOU like/enjoy.”

I have struggled with this my entire life, and it was a real joy to be able to write a truly definitive bio, just this morning! To help you in your own journey, take a look at mine as an example of what I am talking about : Suzanne’s New Bio

Writing a bio has always been, until today, a dry, boring list of facts about myself, without really understanding just who I am. I’ve had to write them for professional reasons, often as an accompniment to a resume, or to be included in a company newsletter. For my artwork, it’s always been about the influences in my art, or whatever facts about me make me an artist. Now, for the first time in my entire life, I feel like I’ve written not only a valid, and accurate bio, but it’s also become more than that: it’s become the answer I’ve searched for my whole life.

I really encourage anyone to do this for themselves. Here’s a few things that I think might be helpful to you, but feel free to disregard everything I say and do it entirely in your own way.

1. If you don’t enjoy writing, just say to yourself, “No one will ever see this.” You’re doing this for YOU, not for publication/critique.
2. Set a word limit. Try to do it in 500 words or less. That way, you won’t feel like you’re being forced to write a memoir.
3. Start, continue and end with humour. Laughing at ourselves is healthy and WISE. It will keep you from getting discouraged and from taking yourself too seriously.
4. Don’t just list facts. Find a way to list your favorite foods, books, whatever. Maybe your favorite travel destinations.
5. Have fun with this. You’re not using this for a resume — this is a personal exercise for yourself. If you want to make fun of your boss, or poke fun at political parties, whatever, DO IT. That too, is part of who you are.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Desiree,
    I definitely relate to your struggle with knowing what you want. In writing the bio, I had a couple things in mind that I didn’t really think of when I wrote this post. So I’m adding it here as an aside, and hoepfully you will like this too.

    One of the things I set out to do when writing that bio was to sort of come of my shell in a way. I am an intensely private person and in the main, I am very careful about what I choose to share with other people. It’s a little strange how this is for me: I don’t care if people know where I live, and I’m not afraid of “stalkers” – I’ve spent the better part of 15 years in martial arts, so that’s not my fear.

    My fear is allowing people to know my inner thoughts and feelings. Odd for an artist. At the same time that I am painting, or drawing, or whatever, there’s a certain part of me that does hold back a great deal. I don’t if that’s because of being an introvert by nature, or if it’s related to being a TCK. But there’s just one part of me that nobody, even my own mother or child, will ever know about. It’s just between me and God I guess.

    So my point is, when I wanted to write the bio, I wanted to say both, “a lot” and yet, “little”. In doing it, it was clear to me that in a way, the dry boring list of facts (my address, age, where I was born, etc) is “safer” for me, than all the emotional stuff. Isn’t that wierd? You would think it would be the other way but for me it’s not. So my bio, while it doesn’t reveal searchable facts about me, still, it says quite a bit about my personality, my sense of humour, etc.

    A friend of my dad’s was a BAU profiler for the FBI and he read it. This is fascinating to me. His “analysis” of me was the following, and this is from someone I barely know. Even he and my dad are friends, he is just a passing acquantance for me. But here’s what he said,
    “You have an orientation toward British literature and Irish poetry. (TRUE!)
    You had a southern English teacher, probably from Texas, when you were in high school. (TRUE!)
    You don’t like hard vegetables and prefer a meat and potatoes diet. (TRUE!)
    You have a tendency toward purity in all your preferences regarding lifestyle. You never wear “faux” jewelry and you always wear gold when given a choice. (TRUE)
    You listen to classical music, and when you were younger, you were involved in avante garde performance art, and were too inhibited to succeed at it. (TRUE)
    You have an unusually high moral standard for yourself, and tend to apply a strong sense of social justice toward others. You are not above a “vigilante” mindset. (TRUE)

    It was amazing. LOL

  2. Anonymous says:

    Inspired by Eugenia’s comment,
    Mansion (JP) = Flat (UK) = Big Apartment (US)
    One Room/Apart = Small flat (UK) = small shabby apartment (US)

    And in Korea
    Handphone = Mobile (UK, EU) = Cell (US)
    Handbag = Purse, wallet (US)
    Onepiece (in JP too) = dress (US, UK)
    Twopiece (in JP too) = suit (US, UK)