So, I decided to ask a bunch of people what they thought of me. Why? Well, It’s a really awkward question for people to answer and it’s fun to watch people deal with that. And I thought it could be funny. And I’m pretty much the worst at describing anything, especially myself. Why not let the masses do it for me?
I wasn’t disappointed. I asked 20 people who know me really well for as many descriptions of me as they could possibly think of and then I created this fun word cloud from their responses:
…which I believe gets better the closer you look. If you don’t know how a word cloud works, don’t stress out. You didn’t miss “cloud day” in second grade; it isn’t an actual cloud filled with words. It’s the thing that’s in the picture directly above. The bigger the word, the more times it was said. How would an actual word cloud even work, silly?
Although, it would certainly be interesting if people had a cloud of words like “privilege” following them around everywhere they went. That sounds like the premise of an absolutely horrible commercial for some medical product. “Do you suffer from extreme privilege? Do minorities keep you up at night? Ask your doctor about Affluenza, the drug that brings us all down to the same level.” You can picture it, too: suddenly, a dark “privilege cloud” over the actor disappears, the sun comes out, he starts to smile, and then gives some change to a homeless man. I guess some people could use that product. Anyways…
When I told one of my exes why I was asking her to describe me, she responded by saying, “that’s the most narcissistic idea I’ve ever heard.” So, I guess if there’s one takeaway here, maybe the best way to describe me is in fact “narcissistic.” This realization was only reinforced when another friend responded with: “you’ve already asked me this question…two times before.” My defense was “Hey, this isn’t about me…I just think it’s funny!” Which it is. To me. So, hopefully it will be funny to other people too.
But at the very least, I’m crowdsourcing self-awareness. So I’m very aware of my narcissism and hopefully in the future I can muzzle it more efficiently.
And even though my narcissism is a very compelling qualitative narrative, the data tells another story. According to my findings, a better way to describe me would be “stubborn.” When I probed my friends and family for more negative traits, “stubborn” came up at an alarming rate. And with an alarming readiness. Which explains why I went ahead and wrote this blog post even though some people came right out and told me it was a really dumb, stupid idea. Self-awareness didn’t help me there.
The funny thing is that stubbornness is good thing when you’re right. Right? It’s a really great thing to be stubborn if you’re right and everybody else is wrong. That’s a really admirable quality. Stubbornness when you’re right is really just “good intuition.” But that’s not what people said. People said “stubborn.” Which really implies that people think I’m stubborn and I’m wrong. And probably pretty annoying because of it.
It reminds me of a conversation I had over text with a friend just after I moved to New York. She asked me what I was up to and I said that I was just doing comedy. And then she asked me how I was paying the bills and I said I was going to start tutoring. And then she said, “Oh, that’s nice. You’re following your dreams.” I said, “You know, that’s what a lot of people say. But I feel like what they’re really thinking is ‘you’re naive and stupid.'” She replied with, “Yeah, a little bit of both.”
“I’m going to be a comic.” Stubborn and wrong.
If “stubborn” doesn’t quite suit me well enough, you’d do just as well to say I have “something to do with humor.” Because “humor” came up a lot when I asked people to describe me. Which is weird, because “humor” isn’t an adjective. It’s a category. To me this says something. People could have just as easily said “funny.” But I’m not funny; I do humor. Ostensibly, not very well. Or else people would call me “funny.”
An adjective that people did call me was “dry.” Which is good, because I guess that beats “wet.” If I can’t be described as “funny,” at least I can be called something that perfectly describes a dish completely devoid of flavor. If I’m not “hilarious,” at least I am comparable to a desert, the vacation destination of pretty much every single camel. I am not “hysterical,” but I am that uncomfortable feeling in your throat when you’re sick. Who needs “funny,” anyways?! I’m dry!
Another fun finding was that a few people responded to my question with “ask your mom.” This comes off as “your mom knows you really well,” but I’ll have you know that it’s more just general laziness on the part of the responder. How do I know this? I happen to have a lot of lazy friends. And, what my mom actually said when I asked her to describe me was: “you don’t handle criticism well,” which we all know is completely ridiculous. In fact, that’s what I said to her when she told me that.
Some of the other adjectives that came up the most were “teddy bear,” “thoughtful,” “privileged,” and “cunt,” but I don’t want to focus too much on what words were the most popular. Because there’s a ton of other good stuff that people said about me that can’t even be captured in a word cloud. So, in closing, I just want to list out some of my favorite, more detailed responses that people shared with me. They are really works of art.
- selectively charming
mildly disengaged from an outsider’s perspective
- hot and tasty and good with bread
lost sheep romantic wanderer thing
privileged tall straight white male
weak knees because of soccer
like to be right/perfect all the fucking time
to the point
not afraid to give honest/mean feedback
use humor to cloak yourself
once you get to know you, a good person
warms up over time
strange, not in a 3 arm way but in a behavioral way
uncaring and harsh persona
caring, but only to the people close to you
pretty American “neither in a good nor bad way”
“a bit” stubborn
“generally” try to be nice
- “questionable” life choices
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