Thursday, 8 August 2013
Where Were You Born? How Old Are You?
I have to confess, those are questions that quite literally make my skin crawl. Questions I will never ever answer. Not because of any vanity hang-ups, I hasten to add - and I can easily prove it when I say I wouldn't even reveal the month I was born in.
I just don't like to give people the chance to stereotype me. Tell somebody your birthday, and they're bound to exclaim "Ah, that makes you an aries (libra, virgo, whatever) then, bit stubborn, are we?" And I really can't stand that sort of thing at all. Somebody once exclaimed "What?? You're from Munich and you don't like beer?!" Err, yes imagine. Except, I'm not "from" Munich, I just happen to live here at the moment. I lived in Edinburgh once, and would you believe it, I don't like whisky.
People's urge to put you in a culturally determined identity box seems to be unquenchable. Born in the 70s? "Haha, you must like flares" 80s? "All those shoulder pads, I can see that's you". 90s? "Grunge! You like grunge then?" "Born in England? Have a cup of tea, the English like their tea!"
Why oh why does it matter where your mother happened to give birth? Does the umbilical cord tie you to that local hospital forever? Are you meant to have imbibed some tribal thinking in those first few earthly hours? Of course, loads of people are very proud of their place of birth "Yup, Kansas girl me, the Sunshine State", or whatever advertising slogan happens to be attached to that neck of the woods. "Us Yorkshiremen are strong and silent, we call a spade a spade". To which of course the only possible reply is "Oh do shut up please".
I admit, I'm pretty extreme in not wanting to be stereotyped. If possible, I'd like to prevent people from knowing my gender, too. I live in constant fear of coming across something like "Oh you females, you just love babies dont'ya". No, I don't actually - I always fear they might give me some dreadful illness, and I don't like people who only ever sleep and eat.
Also, my attitude to this whole identity and stereotype thing has disadvantages. I don't have c.v. for example, so I can't apply for jobs, and am forced to stay self-employed. Still, it's preferable to listening to some HR person kneading a stereotype dough that has nothing to do with who I am - all on the basis of some arbitrary data.
I am very happy, though, to talk about things that really were formative, and therefore matter. For example: At a young age, my family moved to Holland. A country,culture, language, experience that really had an impact on me. Much more so, than an arbitrary place on the map which happens to be my place of birth