“I am an engineer and an artist”

“i am an engineer and an artist. #iamnotmyweight” (@thisisMEssy)

I have favourited this tweet. It couldn’t be a more timely reminder, as I am struggling to figure out how life without an eating disorder works, that the words we use to define ourselves might help to change the positioning.

Given the name of my blog and the reason I started it (“this is the story of finding an identity and giving an eating disorder up”), you’d have thought I already appreciated this; but I have focussed so hard on what I’m giving up that I have neglected what I am finding.

It is important, I think, to have ways of describing ourselves.

It is empowering, I am beginning to see, to take ownership of who we are – and realise that we can be more than one thing.

From 3 to about 12, I was the violinist. From 13 onwards, I was the anorexic or the ill one. Recently, I have classed myself as lost -

@thisisMEssy has reminded me that I don’t need to put all my eggs in one basket. And that I can be far more than my eating disorder.

So, I am going to force myself to repeat the agonising process that I undertook when I listed the things that I like about me; and challenge myself, this time, to focus on some of the ways I could describe myself, and the different things that I am. Starting with the obvious.

  • I am a woman.
  • I am a brunette.
  • I am a sister and a daughter; a god–daughter, grand-daughter, cousin and niece.
  • I am an English Literature graduate.
  • I am a copy writer, an aspiring ‘other types of writing’ writer, and a blogger.
  • I am a reader; and, when I’m not too tired, I am a thinker.
  • I am the kind of scrabble player that forgets it is a game.
  • I am a join the dotter.
  • I am, amongst others, a Florence and the Machine, Laura Marling, Amy MacDonald, Lady Ga Ga and Lily Allen fan.
  • And a Lost and Family Guy one.
  • I am a front crawler when I’m swimming.
  • I am uncontrollably creative.
  • I am a low maintenance no make-up kind of girl.
  • I am a twitterer and an entranced social media explorer.
  • I am an early bird, however hard I try not to be.
  • I am, in the main, a people person.
  • I am a book reviewer and a literary snob.
  • I am an introvert, sometimes; and an extrovert, sometimes.
  • I am a life long learner.

I am also lots of other not so great things, but they don’t matter quite so much when I don’t have to fit into one neat description….

It is strangely liberating to decide how I would like to call myself (rather than take what I think I have been given), and remember that the definitions are not set in stone.

It is reassuring to realise that I am more than an eating disorder -

and that there is still opportunity for me to find out who else I might be.

P.S. This has been a great exercise for me (so thank you @thisisMEssy!), and I’d love to hear how other people describe themselves and the things they’re discovering – or shrugging off – along the way…

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8 Responses to ““I am an engineer and an artist””

  1. Melissa says:

    Thank you! ;)

  2. girlundiscovered says:


    - I am a woman, also :-)
    - I am a not-so-natural red-head
    - I am a hairdresser who chooses not to do hair and who doesn’t like having her own hair cut!
    - I am the highest achieving graduate in my year in International Business
    - I am a Politics postgraduate graduate
    - I am a receptionist in a counselling service
    - I am a fantabulously silly and funny girlfriend
    - I am a good, loyal friend
    - I am a sister
    - I am a daughter
    - I am a dreamer
    - I am creative
    - I am a journaller and am a list-maker
    - I am a little in love with the Gaga
    - I am a Mighty Boosh, Russell Brand and Tim Minchin fan
    - I am a thinker
    - I am an academic
    - I am a dancer and a singer (in front of the TV and when no one is looking mainly)
    - I am a friend to animals, especially cats
    - I am NOT my mother
    - I am an adult
    - I am independent

  3. Melissa says:

    Brilliant! Thank you for sharing these…and you’ve reminded me that I too am a Tim Minchin fan. And an adult. (most of the time). xx

  4. You know, every time you (and I don’t just mean ‘you, I mean general everybody ‘you) do this you realise how despicable the eating disorder is in terms of identity. You are so much more than anorexia or bulimia, and this is a brilliant reminder of it.

    I won’t take up space listing what I am, but I’ll add this: ‘you are a supportive helper’. Maybe that’s too close to eating disorder-related issues, but it’s true. How dare that eating disorder make us feel so insignificant and sad, right?

  5. Well you’re quite ahead of us hon. We have no idea whatsoever of what we are. A moving target, really. Depends on who’s out at any given moment. What We do know is that we watch our life go by in a very dissociated framework. I think it’s fantastic that you’re working on divorcing yourself from your illness. A big perceptual step to be sure. Good on you ;)

  6. Michael Lang says:

    You sound like an amazing *human being*, engaged with the world and with yourself!
    Best to you in your interesting travels!

  7. Melissa says:

    Big thank you for these comments. I am doing loads of processing at the moment so they’ve really helped me to think about this a bit more. I find identity a really really difficult one, particularly in relation to moving away from the illness, so I guess I’ll be back with more at some point….

    In the meantime, I also realised that “I am a teacher and a student”, so I’ll be adding both these to my list. ;)

    P.S. Not sure about the amazing bit yet but certainly hoping that I’ll reach there, at least for a few days, at some point!!