Here it is…the bi-annual identity crisis!  (applause, applause, applause)

This identity crisis event seems to occur about every 2 years or so and usually results in some life changing revelation and a decent amount of growth.  It’s partnered with lots of writing/journaling, artistic/creative endeavors and a fair amount of banging my head against a wall.  The latter I could do without.
So what brought it on this time?  Well, set aside the constant frustration with my job, feeling trapped inside my home (because I work from home) and other grown-up responsibilities (which really aren’t that bad) and you have everything else…well, not really.  I have an amazing husband who accepts me and all my crazy, a family who loves me and friends who are more supportive than anyone could ask.  It’s really just my brain that holds me back or at least slows me down.
I have so many varied interests.  SO. MANY!  I think this is main thing that other people enjoy about me and the one that makes me question my sanity.
I’ve moved 54 times, went to 17 different schools and have until the past six years had dozens of jobs in various fields.  All of these things make me a very interesting and diverse person but also prevent me from being able to define myself.  You might be thinking, “Why do you have to define yourself, Andrea?”  And while the easy answer is, “I don’t!” the harder answer is “because I constantly feel like I’m spinning in circles and grasping at straws.”
I want to do so many things with my life but I can’t seem to stay focused on one thing long enough to accomplish any of them.  Part of that is ADD, I’m sure, but it’s less of the typical task oriented ADD and more of a “Vision Oriented ADD”.  I mean, completing tasks is very difficult, don’t get me wrong, but eventually I get shit done that needs to get done with regards to work and housekeeping stuff so I don’t want to dwell on that.  But yesterday I realized that if I had to brand myself I wouldn’t even know where to start!
I realize that it sounds ridiculous to want to brand yourself, but trust me, it’s more common than you think.  Comedians for instance:  Roseann (who’s roast happened to be on last night, which also happened to get my wheels spinning faster than they already were) is a brand.  She’s known as a crazy, loud-mouth who doesn’t give a F@&% about what other people think.  That may not be who she is behind closed doors, but that’s how she’s perceived.  Martha Stewart is an other example, on the opposite end of the spectrum, of course, but branded non-the-less. Ricky Gervais, John Stewart, Steve Jobs, Meg Ryan, Barack Obama, the list goes on.  Now you’re probably thinking, “Andrea, those are celebrities, they get paid lots of money to be those things.”  Yes, you’re absolutely right!  They do!  And I want to be one of them.  I don’t have to be a politician or a comedian or the icon of domestic perfection, but I do want to be known for SOMETHING!  Which is actually REALLY hard for me to say out loud (or in writing) because that little voice in my head tells me that it is ridiculous to want that and even more ridiculous to admit it. But then the other little voice tells me that they were all just normal people before they did something that got noticed and there’s no reason why I can’t be one of those people too.
All my life I thought I was someone special because that’s what others have always told me.  Maybe everyone hears that growing up and still hears it as an adult…I don’t know.  That annoying voice tells me that the people who tell or have told me how “amazing” I am tell that to everyone they know and I’m just lucky to be one of the people those people.  This isn’t a woe is me cry for attention, this is me realizing that I base my self worth on other people’s perception of who and what I am.  “Self worth” might be a bit dramatic; I certainly wouldn’t kill myself if someone told me I was stupid and didn’t deserve to live.  But I am unable to describe myself in a positive way without using the words that others use to describe or praise me.
I hadn’t really realized this until last night when I was talking to Brett about the stress I was feeling about “branding” myself.
Branding, there’s that word again.  So why, why do I, as a sales rep for a small company, living in a small town with a husband, some pets and a normal, every-day-life need to brand myself?  Again, because I want to be and do more!  Here’s a specific example for you…
I started a web-series cooking show last week because I think it would be so cool to have my own show and I’m tired of waiting for the Food Network to announce auditions for next season’s “Food Network Star”.  (I fricken love that show!) I had started a food blog about a month ago called “So Whatcha Eating” where I post pictures of foods I prepare/eat as a post-op gastric by-pass patient.  It seemed like a good idea at the time and I’m sure it still is and even though I’ve had a decent amount of traffic via Pinterest, (which is way cool) I feel like I’m pigeonholing myself.  Yes, I am a post-op and always will be but I don’t want that to define who I am and more than that I don’t want to have to be limited to low carb recipes and feel obligated to stick to that persona for the rest of my life.  Now you’re probably thinking, “you don’t have to, Andrea!”  In fact you might even be yelling it at me, but I disagree.  IF I want to be known for something it needs to be consistent.  I can’t use my @2eatrealfood on Twitter to talk about my atheism or political views or even that I went to Taco Bell for lunch.  (Which I didn’t but I might!)   That’s not why people follow me.  They want to hear about recipes I create and the HEALTHY foods I eat and even though Martha Stewart spent time in prison and was able to survive but if you suddenly found out that her house is a complete disaster and that she actually burns water when she cooks you will question her entire…BRAND!
So in the “branding” conversation that I was having with my sweet, patient husband he said, “I think you need to decide who you are.”  He went on to tell me that he knows that I really struggle with that and pointed out all of my varied interests and random “identities”– cook, writer, actress, singer, hippie, adventure seeker, etc. And he’s right!  I am ALL OVER THE PLACE!  He knows me better than I know myself sometimes!  Okay, probably most of the time.  He asked me how I would describe myself and it was then that I realized that all of the adjectives I would use to describe myself were things that other people say about me:  funny, talented, pretty, smart, interesting…I think those are the main specifics.  “Amazing” and “Awesome” are praises I get a lot which I love to hear but what do I do with that?  What do I do with any of it?  Maybe nothing.  Again, that voice tells me things like, “Andrea, they’re just saying that to be nice” or “Andrea, they think that’s what you need to hear”…and maybe they’re right.  Maybe that’s all it is, something I need to hear to keep me going in my “normal day-to-day life.”
Having worked in the arts, pursuing a career as an actor and even in all of my other endeavors, I’ve always had a hard time believing compliments.  I accept them graciously; I truly do appreciate them.  But I prefer my compliments to come with a side of criticism.  That’s not REALLY true.  I hate criticism.  I don’t even really like suggestions, because that means that what I did wasn’t good enough, but I believe criticism far more than I believe praise.  I know I’m not the only one.  It’s a common theme among self-improvement-type-shows that make producers a lot of money… but I don’t know how to fix it for myself.
So how do I define myself?  I don’t fricken know!  Most of the time I really like who I am, believe it or not.  I certainly don’t hate myself in fact there are plenty of times when I think I’m pretty damned amazing too, I just don’t know how to define it.  I love that I’m always willing to try new things.  I love that I’m never content no matter how frustrating it might be.  I love that I never meet a stranger.  I love that I am good a many things.  I love myself…I just don’t know what the hell to do with who I am.  What I do know is that I don’t want to sell ticketing software for the rest of my life.
I want my own cooking show.  I want to write a book.  I want my own sitcom.  I want to be on Broadway.  I want to travel the world.  I want an “amazing” physical, mental and emotional transformation post gastric by-pass.  I want the world to know who I am because I too, believe that I am amazing in my own neurotic, spastic, fly-by-the-seat of my pants kind of way. I want to be okay with who I am and I want others to know that they can be okay with who they are too.  That’s why I write this silly little blog.
I don’t know what else to say at this point.  I’m sure the contradictions in my ramblings are quite confusing and have probably left you scratching your head…welcome to my world.
So what’s my plan?  Well, as of last night, as I was trying to fall asleep I decided that I need to reactivate Andrea Tripodi.  That doesn’t mean I’m getting a divorce and changing my name.  But I am going to revamp my website and include EVERYTHING about me.  All of my interests, adventures, ideas, accomplishments and setbacks. That way, even if I can’t get my brain to focus on who I am at least it will be in one consolidated place and maybe, just maybe someone will notice and pay me to just be me- a cooking, writing, acting, singing, world traveling, adventure seeker…Wouldn’t that be nice?