One usually likes to think of oneself as an autonomous being, a product of ones choices, believes and free will. Which in many aspects is true. But come to think of it, how much of who I am is owed to the people who put me into this world? The place and time I grew up at?

This is a much debated and investigated question. What is inbred, what’s instilled? All interesting in itself.

If I were to elaborate on my life so far, much of it would be discussed under the caption “My life as a daughter”. Or “My life as an expatriate Austrian born in 1968”. Or “My life as an ex-Jehova’s Witness”. Or, to quote a book title, “The woman who walked into doors”. And so on. How and who would I be, if the same titles read something like “My life as a son”. Or “My life as a Romanian born 1986, living in Chicago”. Or “My life as firstborn to the Imam of Marrakesh”.

Quite futile, considering this further, as the captions are given and can’t be changed. On top, it all is so coincidental.

However, understanding this makes it easier for me to accept who I am and what I do not only as my own doing, or worse, “fault”. But as the sum of all these random circumstances plus whatever conditioning I received, makíng me tick the way I tick. Thus, I get the freedom to maybe change things. Or myself. To the better, I hope. If not, then at least it helps to gain some equanimity. Stops the constant fretting…This is the good news about becoming a bit older.

So, contriving different captions to one’s life story is not as futile as I first thought. Best thing about it is, that one looks differently at other people’s happenstances and how they deal with it.

2 thoughts on “captioning

  1. My mind has been working on your choice of the word “caption” all day. (As opposed the the usual term “label” – or maybe “characteristic”. The function of a caption is to tell you how to interpret the image above it. One day earlier – your last “Friday Funny” – I couldn’t read the caption so I was left to interpret the cartoon picture on it’s own. Later, I looked at it again on the PC and could read the caption. I realized I had concocted a completely different interpretation.

    Imagine two identical pictures of yourself side by side. Under one you read the words “Ex- Jehova’s Witness/Austrian Woman” and under the other you read “Manager/Artist”.

    Maybe you can’t control how others see you (or hear you – as I always write about), but you can steer it. And accepting the influences of your past as a means of conquering guilt is great. But I don’t believe you are required to just “accept” who you are – you do have some choice in the way you see yourself, i.e. which caption you write. And when you make that choice it influences how others see you.


    1. thanks for explaining caption in detail. I originally used title, but titeling doesn’t sound too great (and might not even be allowed for Scrabble), so I looked online for another word meaning something like Überschrift – and caption(ing) was sugggested in two different dictionary sites. So I felt confident enough to use it. I thought, it sounded right, somehow connecting it to Kapitel(Überschrift). Never new it really means Bildunterschrift.
      But to the intention of the entry: it’s not so much about how others see me or what they think. More about understanding, how much influence the purely coincidental place and people you stem from have, on who you are. As soon as I understood this fully (not just knowing the fact, but also accepting it, not revolting any longer), I was able to “work” with what I have and am. Starting to create some labels of my own. As long as I was busy fighting myself, there was not much room for becoming something else.
      btw, manager, I’d take, artist is a bit much I think. But nice of you to suggest…


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