I find it incredibly difficult to introduce myself. When ambushed by the vague curiosity that fuels all acquaintanceship, I never know what I am expected to say, what I am supposed to include in what I say, and, more importantly, if I even know myself correctly. All it takes for me to spiral off into an existential void of philosophical frustration is a harmless, well-meaning stranger who, out of sheer politeness, bothers to ask me who I am and what my interests are.
Now, I meet people all the time so an introduction is a fairly common social situation I find myself stranded in. And yet, whenever I stand before someone I have never met before, prompted to talk out of common curtsy, my heart inexplicably thumps faster, my brain explosively short circuits and all that comes out of my pathetically mumbly mouth is “I…uh..like…lots of stuff….yeah…books and stuff.”
Because really now, who the hell am I?
There are too many things I cannot convey about my little-lost iceberg self. There is very little that you, a complete stranger, would even want to know. All that I like is fictional and all the qualities I think I have are based on subjective conclusions people around me have drawn based on episodic interactions.
Am I funny? Am I smart? Am I creative? Do I really know any of those things about myself? Am I all or any of those things? Because this new person in front of me, awkwardly smiling in his good-natured uneasiness as I take too long to answer, knows absolutely nothing about me in this amazingly oblivious moment and I have the golden opportunity to truly express myself as essentially as I can, with the purest essence of my personality and the most exact explanation of what I really think of the world and myself. The thrill catches up to my confusion but here I always stutter and I here I always fail because you see, I don’t know anything about myself, at all, in that one heated, critical moment.
Let me try and explain.
When I was in 9th grade, I used to wonder a lot about aliens. It is still amusing to see how familiar the extraterrestrials are in science fiction stories. They eat from a strange mouth, they occasionally express emotions, they see through distorted eyes, they touch with finger-like projections, and they sniff through, well, questionable organs, but they sniff nonetheless. It is fairly evident how conceptions of ‘alive’ and ‘weird’ that we hold so deeply in our brains plague our clumsy imaginations. I think it is very close-minded of us to imagine the otherworldly on our skeletons. The aliens might be stones, stars, mattresses, thoughts, burps, cosmic handkerchiefs for all we know, and they could still be more “alive” then we could ever claim to be. Who the heck knows? How can we be so blinded by our own stereotypes?
What makes us so cocky?
It also fascinates me that these carelessly fantasized, unknown creatures from outer space are repeatedly conjured up to baffle us, humans, when, objectively speaking, we are pretty peculiar creatures ourselves. See yourselves from the perspective of an alien and tell me you are not “abnormal”. I mean, we have millions of antennae sprouting from the peak of our bodies, all cropped and coloured. Moist, squishy balls rotate freakishly in two sunken sockets on our fronts, reflecting light and squirting salty water once in a while. There is an odd nob at the centre of our faces that scrunches up when we feel disgusted. We have calcium bricks lining the inside of a cavity that has a monstrous, pink mound of wriggly flesh we use to taste things and to make complicated sounds. There are twisted, semi-circular projections on both sides of our roundish tops through which we perceive noises and vibrations and this, my friend, is just the head.
The world is a lot weirder than we think it is and once we get rid of all the prejudices and notions that govern our heavily influenced minds, everything seems absolutely bonkers. And it is amusing and funny and overwhelming all at the same time.
To think of all the things we have made up about this world is a delight in waiting rooms and boring lectures.
I came up with this idea when I was just a kid, but now as a technical adult, I have trouble identifying with anything in particular as a part of my being. There is a weird paranoia settled in my heart that I am failing to see something frighteningly obvious because I have been blinded by the life I have lived. Things are hardly ever how they seem. But they are only what I see of them.
And so, who am I but the sum of all the man-made assumptions and interpretations created by delusional creatures like myself? I am a boring bystander to the man sitting next to me at the airport and I am the smartest of the lot in the loving eyes of my parents. I am a great friend and I am a terrible friend. I am cold and aloof and I am warm and enthusiastic. I am never any of those things at the same time, but in the eyes of everyone around me, I am always a version of myself. So then, I ask again, who am I?
I think it would take an alien to really know me, or anyone else for that matter. I need to be abducted by a UFO in a cornfield and given a complete psychological and physical probe by the ever-obliging friendly neighbourhood extraterrestrials in their ultra high-tech spaceships to learn the truths that swirl within me in Ferris wheels of confusion.
Because only the absolutely strange can judge my normalcy objectively. And that’s all there is to that.
I am frequently humbled by thoughts like this. When I am asked questions about things as basic as my introduction, I am embarrassingly tongue-tied owing to the speeding of a thousand pointless thoughts through my mind. The answer is way too scattered and stupid and far-fetched to articulate in my undependable mind.
It is a pain but, ultimately, it hardly warrants any inconvenience to the rest of the waiting world.
So, to the man, who was only trying to be nice and hardly cares about my existential dilemmas, I want to say- I know I am being a fumbling idiot when you’ve asked me something so simple and I know I am failing at this situation terribly. I sincerely apologize for disappointing you so utterly dear polite stranger, but consider aliens and know how utterly ridiculous your question is in the first place.
To anyone I am forced to seek an introduction of, I want to say don’t worry if you think you made a fool of yourself as you grasped at straws of yourself, I only understand too well and I don’t think you are lame.