Who am I? This is far more complicated than anticipated…

So I have been challenged by a blogger friend of mine to write a theme post: Who Am I… and I love a challenge! But now I am sitting here wondering if this should include a question mark as punctuation, or maybe it should be more: Who I am!

A few days ago, when I took up the challenge to do this, I thought, piece of cake – Right!?! Then I hit a stall… honestly I don’t even know where to begin. In fact, my pondering the appropriateness of the question mark is a window into my ambivalence over this. The reality is that the explanation of who I am is brimming with complexities. I am different things to different people, and in different situations, and depending upon my mood or present state of mindfulness, I can even be different things to myself.

I wrote a post some time ago about the perspective of thinking outside the box and how that is relevant for me (Contemplating the Box and Living on the Edge) and quite simply put – it is difficult for me to consider my identity outside of my role as a person surrounded by people on the autism spectrum. This has me ever extending my understanding and striving to understand the perspectives of others.

I am much more than this – but I am also so much more because of this. I know I am a better person, more self-aware, more appreciative, and happier because of my experiences as a parent of a child with autism/Autistic child and as a special educator.

So – here is some less obvious information about who I am today:

I am outgoing and love to talk with people… but I also value time alone with my thoughts in my own head. As contradictory as it may sound, I am an extrovert and an introvert. I am a deep thinker and am seldom impulsive: it can take me a long time to consider all of the angles of a situation and varying perspectives before making a decision.

I like thrift stores but I hate shopping, the mall, and uncomfortable shoes. I like cooking but I hate following recipes, which I suspect may reveal a bit about my oppositional, defiant, and independent tendencies. I have an excellent memory for jargon and concepts – but I am terrible with names. I am often simultaneously reading as many as 10 books… I lean toward non-fiction and sci-fi fantasy. I love irony and understated humour and I am quick with double-entendre and puns – but I do not appreciate pejorative or sarcastic attempts at humour that victimizes others.

I clean the house when I am talking on the phone…

I write poetry, this blog, countless lists, and sometimes stories too. I have written political songs. I play guitar – but not often. I sing (often). I draw and have done political cartoons. I worked as an archeologist in university and I love dirt and gardening. I can name every plant in my garden. I know how to scuba dive and feel most at home by the ocean. I love taking photos, learning new things, and hanging out with my family.

When I was younger I struggled with negative thoughts and self-talk… Now I am working to be mindful about the connection between my thoughts and actions and the way I feel about my life and my place in the world.

I believe in peace and kindness…

personal responsibility…


and the power of metaphor!

As I reflect, it bears consideration that in many ways my journey is similar to that of my son as he works to navigate his way through the social world. It is hard to judge where someone will be next year or in five years based solely upon where/who they might be at this moment… but the support and interactions of/with others help to shape who that person will come to be. A one-step-at-a-time stance creates great opportunities for learning about one’s self and others as well. I guess my son and I are both works in progress – and I think that is the perfect place to be in this moment…


30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2011)

About Leah Kelley, Ed.D.

Leah Kelley, M.Ed, Ed.D., Writer, Consultant, Activist, Speaker, and Educator, working with Teacher Candidates at UBC. Authors blog: 30 Days of Autism. Projects support social understanding, Neurodiversity paradigm, Disability Justice, and connecting Disability Studies in Education(DSE)to Educational Practice. Twitter: @leah_kelley Facebook: 30 Days of Autism: Leah Kelley
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5 Responses to Who am I? This is far more complicated than anticipated…

  1. Love this post. Reminds me of the sense of self posts that I wrote on my blog. I have been pondering the question ‘who am I?’ others like it that are based on the perspective of whose doing the asking. It’s a fascinating question. I like your answer. 🙂


  2. OMum22 says:

    I really like your answer too. The one thing that always fascinates me about this question is how often people will revert to their roles in defining who they are. You really delved into your personal make up and I liked seeing how you viewed yourself. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Leah Kelley says:

    Thank you both for your affirming and supportive comments. It is funny how something that seems like it should be so simple can be so difficult. I think that the complexity of a perspective-of-self is something we likely relate to, at least in some respects, because the three of us share the experience of parenting children who are in the autism spectrum. Your comments made slogging through the writing of this post worth-while and I appreciate that very much.


  4. Erin Wallace says:

    This is a question most of us spend our entire lives answering, isn’t it? I’ve spent the last five years trying to figure this out, and I think I’ll sit down tonight with a pen and paper and formulate a list and try my hand at this post (with a link here, of course)! It’s only fair, then that you publish my doggie treat recipe 😉


  5. Sue says:

    I already knew you were amazing, but you are also amazingly talented. If I ever decide to do a book trailor, can I hire you to illustrate. Your carictaure is so cute.


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