A few months ago a few housemates and I wondered what roles each of the ten of us would play if we were a real family. Pegging the parents and grandparents was easy but when it came to choosing who would be the extended family members and the kids it got a little dicey…until it came to me. Much to my chagrin, I was pegged almost unanimously as the youngest child.

Apparently the fact that I’m constantly yelling, “Anyone wanna play a game?? Who wants to play Monopoly Deal? Monopoly Deal anyone??” along with the fact that I’ve been known to borrow food from other people’s refrigerators makes me youngest child material. I beg to differ.

How I feel about being called the youngest child (courtesy of google images)

I prefer to see myself as a refined, gracious womon with a touch of elegance. Ok, who am I kidding? But really, this little exercise got me thinking about how people perceive me. I know what I want people to see and know about me but I’m not sure that always comes across. After all, since we are such complex beings how can someone really, really know us? How can we really know ourselves?

I hate when someone asks me what work I do because I know as soon as I tell them, that will be what defines me in their eyes. It’s the same with other identifiers I have for myself: feminist, Mennonite, womon, writer, activist. All of these things, while good and beautiful in their own right, are simple words to define a complex being: me.

This is something people have always and will always struggle with. How do we define ourselves in a way that is true to ourselves? It seems to me that instead of defining myself, I need to de-fine myself– take all that I know and wish and want to be true about myself and deconstruct it until there is nothing left but Megan, bare bones and all.

While I will always lament being “the youngest child,” at some point I have to stop fighting these perceptions and listen to them. I might just learn something about myself, whether good or bad, that I never knew before.