In-Klined to Speak


If there’s one thing I hate being asked to do, it’s to describe myself in one word.

Why? Because who I am seems to change on a regular basis these days, to the point that trying to break down and simplify who I am without ellipses, qualifications, and specifications seems moot.

Which is probably why most people who know me consistently point out two things about me: my writing is, for the most part, concise and succinct, and my speech is long and droning. And in a way, that’s fair. I’m self-aware enough to know that for some reason I can’t quite keep my mouth shut on a fairly regular basis.

Then there are the people who note my excitability, which, once again, is a reasonable observation (hence the “enthusiasm enthusiast” line in the “About the Author” section). It’s easy to identify me both in and out of class. While in class, I’m usually the guy who always has his hand raised, eagerly looking to participate or ask a question (often to the annoyance of the people around me). Out of class, people recognize me for my escapades at Old City’s Mug Night, where I perform Michael Jackson dances on a fairly regular basis. It’s a stupid thing that I love doing because of the absurdity of it all, which in a way reflects the weird narrative that is my own life.

And that’s probably the best (and yet worst) one-word description of me: weird. I am not like most people, and yet I’m not that different either. Sure, I’ve been known to make some pretty stupid comments in class, start fierce arguments about why the original “Die Hard” is the greatest movie of all time, and otherwise demonstrate a taste in good pop music (not to mention good dance routines).

Bio-Tom Kline

But there’s so much more to me than any and all of that. As loud and outgoing as I appear, I’m actually pretty quiet when I’m on my own. I’m not against staying inside on a typical Saturday evening and reading. As stupid as I can sound from time to time, I constantly strive to improve my public speaking skills on my own time. As wacky as my overall public persona may be, I’m observant and thoughtful and understanding.

And I’m not done changing.

Having returned from a full four months abroad in Japan, it’s pretty safe to say I’m not at all the man I once was. I’m calmer, more relaxed, and far less judgmental. I’ve found a sort of clarity in the midst of the chaos that surrounds me. My speech has gotten significantly more succinct, and my writing voice continues to flourish. I’ve come to terms with the fact that the people around me will form their own opinions of me whether I like it or not, knowing full well that, even in the most dire of circumstances, there will always be someone willing to see me for who I truly am. Even if the only “someone” is me.

In the end, the most important lesson I’ve come to learn is this: my identity is mine and mine alone to shape, mold and develop. No one else can take that away from me.

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