My brother has an orange Buddy scooter that he bought when he moved to Houston. I rode around the block with him just after he brought it home, but other than that I wasn't too interested in sitting on the thing. The road is hard, and I don't want to scrape myself against it. I prefer things with steering wheels and metal between myself and the asphalt.
About six months later, he borrowed my car and left it at my office in the sixth ward. Waiting for him to return, I decided to try riding it around the block. I sat on it, started it up, and - attempting to turn while confusing the gas and the brake - drove it directly into a ditch.
There are some experiences that challenge my sense of who I am. I've never thought I was a particularly coordinated person, but I also didn't think I was the sort of person that would crash a scooter the first time I tried to ride it. I didn't think I was the sort of person that would get a ticket for running a stop sign, either, but I am now trying to figure out how to resolve a ticket for running a stop sign (though, I'm going to go back and have a look at that stop sign and make sure it's not covered up by some trees or something, because I honestly didn't see it).
I like to think that I know myself pretty well. I think I'm pretty self-award (some might say self conscious). But maybe this is an illusion. After receiving my ticket, a friend of mine told me that some people think of me as the "creepy quiet one" when they meet me. Creepy?! Ouch.
Now, I know that I'm pretty quiet, especially in groups of people larger than three or four. You might even describe me as painfully shy, or even really awkward. I've thought a lot about this. But creepy? Really?
Maybe I am more creepy and clumsy than I thought. And a bad driver.
But I'm also surprised at myself all the time for other reasons. I didn't know I could plan three fundraisers, manage a successful non-profit, or get into the New School. I've learned during a recent breakup that I am relatively mature; that I know who I am and what I want. It's satisfying, to finally know who I am. Still, ultimately, it's somewhat false.
I don't believe our personalities are completely fixed. Even if they were, we clearly sometimes act "out of character." I generally pay close attention while driving, for example. I may strive to know myself, and get closer and closer to finding out who I am, but if I begin to think that I can't surprise myself, then I'm just kidding myself.