Tuesday, January 28, 2020

What Am I Now?

So I was talking to a friend the other day, and the question of what we currently were came up, and I found the question interesting. Mainly because I have become so used to defining myself by my ideals, my aspirations, what I aim to be in the future. And I've written extensively about what I've done in the past in the form of those whole-year wrap-ups I do here on the blog. But rarely do I ever look at myself in the present and try to pick my current self apart in an honest and thorough manner, so I thought it would be an interesting exercise: to get down and dirty with my perception of my actual current self and see what's there, or rather: here.

So immediately what comes to mind when somebody asks you "what are you?" is to switch the question to "what do you do?" and that's an easy enough question to answer. I do many things (eat, sleep and poop, primarily), but in answering that question, it is common convention to answer with your full-time job, and so I am an online video producer for a digital media brand called Thelaki. I make (produce, write and host) weekly videos over there. I get paid to do it, which astounds me, since I have zero formal education in the matter. Everything I have learned in order to do what I do for a living right now, I have learned through experience, through doing, through trial and error. I have reasons to think that I'm good at what I do, and I also have plenty of reasons to think otherwise. I have a great team around me and we get the results that we do because of the combined efforts of everybody in the team.

Besides my full-time gig, I also do these other things on the regular, as readers of this blog might already know. I act semi-regularly. I have been involved in a handful of productions within these past couple of years in an acting capacity for me to be comfortable enough to say that I act. I am currently rehearsing for a play that will be staged in a couple of months, so I am a "working actor", so to speak. I would like to someday be a "full-time actor", but that will require more time, work and luck to be a thing. I don't know if I'm a "good actor", but I don't think that I'm a "bad actor" (not in my definition of "bad actor", anyway). I used to go to casting sessions more regularly, but nowadays I audition less and less. Maybe because I have a high failure rate as an auditioner (just like every other actor) and I take failure very poorly, so I don't audition so much anymore in order to save myself from all the heartbreak. But also maybe because the best acting jobs I've gotten so far did not come from cold auditions but from people knowing me personally and knowing what I could do and wanting me to do it in their productions. Maybe because I put myself out there on stage and on Youtube regularly enough for me to not feel like I need to go to audition rooms sangat, and value the exercise of building an audience organically, and trusting that if I gain enough of an audience people would want to work with me more because you never know who's watching.

I also play guitar in a band called Pasca Sini. We play pop-punk, and pop-punk bands are not most known for their virtuosity, which allows for my mediocre playing of the instrument to be passable. I play live in front of audiences every so often and the band has a small small following that I'm very grateful for. We're in the midst of recording our first full-length album that we're excited about sharing with everybody who's willing to give it a listen.

On top of that, I am an improviser. I feel comfortable saying that because I improvise in front of audiences semi-regularly, more often in the short-form format but also sometimes long-form, and I usually have fun every time. I don't think I'm a "good improviser", and I wish I knew how to accelerate my improvement in terms of ability to be funny at the drop of a hat, but I hope that with practice comes incremental comedic-ability gains.

So those were the things "I do", but it doesn't actually fully tell you and me what "I am". I could approach the question by saying who I am in relation to other people. I am grateful to be able to say that I am a husband. A flawed one, I think, in the sense that I feel like I disappoint my wife regularly. I let her down more often than I would like, and new days bring new challenges and shed light onto how I could be doing better as a life-partner. But I'd also like to think that I'm getting better at it. I think I'm a better husband now than I was three years ago, and that's something to feel okay about, I guess. I'm not a great problem-solver, but I think I do listen sometimes, and I learn from my mistakes, sometimes. I try to show my wife that I love her whenever I can, and I encourage her to be autonomous and live her life to the fullest, with or without me.

I am a friend. I'd like to think that a handful of people in this world don't mind having me around. I don't know if I'm a "good friend", but I try to be one in my flawed ways. I try my best to avoid being a "bad friend", however I understand the term. I encourage my friends to be their best selves, I avoid being a burden to them, I always try to be honest with them, I do my best to be wary of doing and saying things that make them feel bad, I apologise when I do, I pay for their food sometimes, I share jokes with them, I try my best to listen, I put in the effort to spend time with them. But I also find it hard to find words that are encouraging or motivational when they need it, I sometimes allow myself to get too busy to spend time with them, I forget to keep in touch, I am a terrible interacter in a group setting, I get distracted very easily, to name but a few of my shortcomings. But I am grateful that my friends exist and that they don't seem like they mind me existing.

But what am I when not in relation to other people? What am I as a standalone person, a solo-project? The format that makes the most sense to me in order to answer this question is the "I am [noun]", kan? I am a privileged Malay-Muslim guy living in Malaysia. I am a deodorant-wearer. I am a silly goose who is also a fan of silly geese. I am a disappointment. I am an ambitious MF. I am a lazy MF. I am an MF Doom fan.

But I can also approach this question with the format "I am [adjective]". I am tan. I am taller than the average Malaysian (the average Malaysian male is 164-168cm tall). I am affectionate but cautious with my affection. I am unfunny, but goddammit am I trying. I am flawed. I am sleepy, most of the time, and I am hungry a lot of the time. I am tired. I am forgetful.

The format I'm most comfortable with, is (I think) "I am [verb]". I am trying to be a better person. I am working towards having more empathy for people. I am learning how to better be of service to those around me. For the most part, I keep my thoughts to myself, unless I'm writing on this blog. I am trying to be more compassionate, considerate, and generous. I am trying. Sometimes I fail, and sometimes I succeed, but most of the time I'm just trying.

I am human. I am dancer.

No comments: