Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Who are we?

We usually can think of how to describe ourselves to others, but how would others describe ourselves? What are the key points that other people remember about us when they describe us?

Last week I was introduced to a few Norwegians and after a while (during dinner) they asked me to tell them more about me. Before I could answer, the only girl that knew me said:
"Tell them how many times you've been married!"
Norwegian eyes popped, as getting married is usually done late in life here (after you are 30, and sometimes after you have kids... as a friend put it: "The only problem of getting married after you have kids is that you cannot get as drunk on your wedding.") I decided to tag along...
"Wow..." and even bigger stares ensured. To try to explain, I said:
"To the same guy though."
"Really? Were there divorces in between?"
Me, sort of shocked at the option: "No! Just different ceremonies in different countries."
"Ah..." Sighs of relief ensured.

What bothered me though was that I never thought that my wedding(s) would be a defining feature of who I am. Sure, having 3 weddings is not for most people, and to an Indian even less so, but for me it was an event in life, not something so important as to be the 2nd thing people learn about me. But that's what happens when you don't control the output: people tend to focus on what they find curious and different to them. Or sometimes, when people want to bond, they focus on what is considered "normal". At the end the outcome is the same: you have a single story. And single stories never to the topic justice, there is always more left unsaid than included. As the author of the talk simply puts: we should try to be aware of how many single stories we convey without even noticing...

1 comment:

  1. Sparked my next post -- whether a "single story" about intercultural relationships is different from other socially accepted single stories, like what you do for a living or whether you have children. :)