The first few months of college are full of identifiers.
“Where do you live?”
“Where are you from?”
“What school are you in?”
I’ve gotten accustomed to the blur of faces, to introducing myself over throbbing EDM, to people inevitably mistaking my name for “Corly” or “Marley” or, in one ill–fated encounter with a frat boy, “Oral–ly.” That last one didn’t fly.
But I’ve never understood this hurried determination of who I am, all based off a three–minute conversation at a party. I’m not the one with the weird first name. I’m not the girl who lives in Riepe. And I’m definitely not the one who spilled my drink all over your shoes. That was that other guy.
That’s because, to me, so many things that people identify with aren’t identities at all. They’re labels. I’ve been labeled white. I’ve been labeled Jewish. I’ve been labeled a straight female with great hair and a knack for mixing prints (I attached the last two labels—I’ve also been labeled self–conscious, and sometimes I need to give myself a little confidence boost).
I don’t think the umbrella terms are what define you. No, I think it’s the smaller nuances, the little quirks about somebody that truly identifies them. So, who am I? I’m a Harry Potter fan (and avid quoter). I’m a terrible dancer, I’m an even worse singer. I’m mercilessly self–deprecating. I am bitingly sarcastic and sensitive to a fault. I think I’m far funnier than I actually am. I have a shining personality, an indelible whimsy, a glimmer in my eyes that just says, “Hey, I’m pretty cool, I’ve got a keen sense of humor and I’m definitely worth getting to know.”
I am modest.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand the need to solidify your identity. Everyone needs that determining factor, that three–word soundbite of who you are. It’s to get by, it’s to separate yourself in a world that is, frankly, easy to get lost in. But we are so much more than instantly recognizable characteristics. We are living, breathing mosaics, a compilation of a million different things that make us who we are.
My identity isn’t just one solidified entity. It’s constantly changing. It’s fluid, not determined by my sexuality or my religion or the color of my (very, very pale) skin.
So, who am I? I’m Orly. I’m the one who actually spilled my drink on your new shoes, and I’m sorry. I’m Orly, and I’m in awe of man’s capacity to be whatever he wants to be.