There’s a thing going around Facebook right now to post pictures of three fictional characters that you identify with. This is exactly the sort of thing that sometimes makes me happy, sometimes makes me roll my eyes… but this time I actually thought about it. I quickly started to post… and then had to stop. Identified with. Characters I identified with.
I read a lot. I only know a handful of people who read more than I do (I’m sure there are tons more but in my personal acquaintance, less than 5). I love to read. I have found many many characters to love, to be inspired by, to love to hate, to wish I could hang out with. But… had I ever identified with one? Had I ever thought, gee, this character is so like me!
I have not. In all seriousness, this has occupied an inordinate amount of time over the last week for me. I began a semi-systematic run-down of characters trying to find, if not three then at least ONE I could say I identified with.
I started with the Classics, because, you know, intelligent looking and all. Shakespeare: there’s gotta be someone in Shakespeare, right? Romeo and Juliet? Nope. Juliet was, well, a drama queen. I eschew drama to the best of my ability. I liked Tybalt the best, but identify with? Nope. Macbeth? Oy. Power hungry nitwit. Lady Macbeth? Even worse — manipulative, ruthless. Nope. No identifying here. Desdemona? Adulteress…no thanks.
Then I moved on to children’s lit–the stuff of my childhood. How about Anne of Green Gables? A redhead, spunky, somewhat of a spitfire…. I really loved Anne, and wanted to hang out and be ‘bosom friends’ but I didn’t see myself in her. Winnie-the-Pooh? As much as I love all of the residents of the 100 acre wood, I didn’t identify with them. I mean… somedays I’m Eeyore and somedays I’m Tigger. Aren’t we all?? I’m named after Laura Ingalls Wilder–but in addition to not identifying with her, she’s a real person, not a fictional character.
Movies? TV? I really wanted to say Lisa Kudrow’s ‘Phoebe Buffay’ on ‘Friends’ (as I have been told on more than one occasion I am ‘kooky like her’–I think that’s a good thing…. but I didn’t identify with Phoebe. I really liked the character, but saw little of myself in her. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but on that show I most identified with Ross. Geeky, but desperately trying to fit in with the cool kids. On the fringe, but not enough to be with the real punk rock type outsiders. That’s me. I didn’t know it at the time but a gay ex-spouse — and the ensuing uncomfortable jokes from people who care but have no idea how to navigate the terrain they’re on– something else Ross Geller and I share. There. That’s one. I identify with Ross Geller.
Back to books and modern works…. Stephanie Plum in Janet Evanovich’s series. I identify with Stephanie in a whole lot of ways! Continually falling ass-backwards into jobs and making the best of them, proving myself without any “proper” credentials and background; find life surprising on a regular basis–seriously surprising, not being flippant here!! I feel like Stephanie goes through life doing her best and loving on true blue friends and family. This I identify with! What I don’t identify with is having two incredible guys between whom I cannot pick. (grammar, yo) I do not identify with that at all. On zero levels. Still. I believe I shall count Stephanie Plum as a second fictional character with whom I identify.
Is there a third? Others I have considered and rejected include: Nancy Drew (too perfect), Catwoman (I’m allergic), Hermione Granger (this was tough–I have all of Hermione’s awkwardness and hopefully a lot of her inner toughness, but she falls into the admire category), Aragorn (I love him–I always consider Aragorn), Wonder Woman (I just want to be her), Agent Scully (she’s a redhead… but I am more like Mulder, Scully’s far too serious)….
After all of this contemplation I have decided that I can’t really find anyone else to identify with–2 out of 3. But I can’t leave a list like that… therefore, clearly, the only thing I can do is write a character with whom I can identify. It’s as simple, and as horrifyingly complicated, as that.