It is a fact well-known that siblings – despite being closely related – are not copies of one another, neither in appearance nor personality. The reason for this has been the subject of debate and reasonable explainations have been offered. Although the question may be considered answered, I cannot help but supplement such an answer with a theory of my own.

If one is presented to a group of strangers and is told that two of them are siblings, one can rather easily pick them out because they are more similar to each other than they are to the unrelated strangers. Despite their likeness, however, siblings differ; they may share the shape of their nose but not the colour of their eyes – or the other way around.

The reason for why siblings are alike in appearance is because they share 100 % of their genetic heritage – as they have the same parents – but they differ from one because they share only 50 % of their genome. The 50 % unique to each sibling is what accounts or their differences.

Personalities are however not the same as appearances, and if one is presented to the ideas of a group of strangers, it is very hard to decide which two ideas have been developed by a pair of siblings.

The question of why this is so – why the personalities of siblings differ – has been answered by several people, though two may be mentioned in particular for having offered satisfactory solutions to the problem.

One of the two people, whom I am referring to, is Frank J. Sulloway. He argues that differences between siblings are to accredited to their birth order, which offers them different familial niches to occupy: the firstborns face a world of limited competition and thus grow up to relate to authority figures such as their parents, while younger siblings become rebels because their benefits do not come as easily.

As the eldest in a sibling group of five, I see the potential of Sulloway’s theory as many of the traits assigned to firstborns (conscientousness, social dominance and limited agreeableness) also are present in my own personality (though I myself would like to claim that the latter is not the case ;D). However, for the same reason – being one of many – I also realise that his theory is not perfect as not all of my younger siblings are rebels.

So, what about the other explaination offered?

The psychologist Judith Rich Harris advocates a theory presented in her book The Nurture Assumption, claiming that the parental influence matters little when a child’s personality is formed; that the similarities that exist between parents and their children instead are to be attributed to their shared genes. Further, she argues against the influence of birth order, and instead claims that it is a child’s peer group which influences their personality; that children modify their behaviour to fit into the group, something which ultimately has an effect on their character.

As with Sulloway’s theory, I realise that there is truth also to Harris’s, as the environment which is shared between siblings (the family) may be disregarded from as accounting for differences because it is the same for all and thus cannot influence individual differences. Further, I personally am somewhat of a “cultural chameleon”, easily modifying my behaviour to what my current group expects of me.

Because I know myself, I also realise that Harris’s theory is flawed, as I believe little of my own personality has been influenced by what my peer group(s) expect of me. This may of course be attributed to the fact that I am most headstrong and usually disregard from what other people expect of me – though I act according to their expectations I disregard from them in all other ways. Also, as most children’s peer groups change over the course of their lives, it may be interpreted as that their personalities change accordingly. However, this is not the case, as a child’s way of being changes little past their 7th to 10th birthday, depending on the child.

As there is truth to both the theories presented above, they can not be considered as wrong or faulty, but they are indeed flawed, having failed to fully explain the reason to why siblings differ. Thus, I theorise that there is more to the answer of the question, and that the missing aspects are present in the genes.

The ultimate goal of all life is reproduction and such a fact must also be present in the reason for why siblings differ; the differences must in some way increase the survival of the associated genes. I believe this indeed is the case; that siblings differ because their differences ensure the survival of their shared genes.

Allow me to elaborate:

If differences in personality are determined to the majority by genes and to the minority by external influences, then this fact also accounts for why there also are similarities between the characters of siblings, as they share 50 % of their genes.

Differences in personality mean that the siblings will prefer different items and aspects. Not only does this increase the availiable amount of resources – as one child may love beets and the other corn – but it also ensures increased genetic variation because different genes determining a person’s character prefer to mix with different sets of genes present in a mate; crudely, one sibling may prefer mates with brown hair while the other sibling prefers red hair.

The result of this is that the genes shared between siblings may mix with many different sets of genes, increasing the variation. If one person reproduces with many mates, its offspring’s genes will be variated; one version per child. However, imagine if a couple of people with a great number of shared genes – like siblings – reproduce with many mates which differ greatly between one another – because of the different siblings’ differing preferences, – then the resulting offspring will be more variated than a single person’s (or similar sibling-preferences’) ever could be.

As genetic variation is the key to evolutionary success, the genes which make the personalities of siblings different will be more successful in the population than the genes which give siblings similar personalities, and such genes thus spread to eventually become universal.

To conclude and summarise my reasoning:

The personalities of siblings differ because their resulting preferences then will also will differ; allowing the siblings’ shared genes to attain greater variation within the resulting offspring, as each sibling will consider different sets of genes the most attractive. Thus, genetic variation is increased, rendering some of the offspring more resilient than the rest; giving the shared genes a chance of success otherwise impossible had the offspring’s genes been too similar. Subsequently, the genes influencing personality differences between siblings will become more successful and eventually spread over the whole population, as they never are to encounter an evolutionary dead-end.

My previous theory to answer evolutionary psychology’s unanswered question No. 8 has now been supplemented with a new aspect.

During the earliest hours of today I suffered from the usual insomnia, which I have learnt to attribute to perhaps a dozen reasons, ranging from the never-ending spawning of new ideas to the anxienty over approaching events. Neither the warm milk nor the bananas nor the chamomille- nor the lavendar tea seemed to be able to silence my thoughts to a sufficient extent. To relieve myself of the boredom bound to follow a failure of falling asleep, I picked up Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters and finished its last three chapters – which I really should have finished earlier but always found myself as being too busy to actually do. I figured it was best to finish reading my only aviliable source of evolutionary psychology before I jump to conclusions, flawed because I have not accumulated enough information.

In the last chapter of the book I learnt that my theory of why parents in industrialised societies have few children was flawed – it is not because of a lack of resources. I still believe there is some truth to my theory, but it did not explain everything. It was not my most successful meme, in other words. However, as I lay in bed, still unable to fall asleep, I contemplated the matter as I find questions without answers to be highly frustrating. Eventually, I came up with a new, supplementary, theory. (It is truly remarkable how clear one’s mind may be when the hours past midnight are spent in the pursuit of activities more productive than sleep!)

My new theory is as follows:

Although parents have to make sure that their offspring is more qualitative than quantitative, because the resources – money and time – are limited, it does not fully explain why industrialised parents have fewer children than their less industrialised counterparts.  This is because there is another aspect of the equation to take into consideration: the fact that industrialised societies are the most sophisticated, meaning that the life expectancy – and subsequent potential reproductive success – of a child born into one is greater than that of children in less industrialised societies.

Parents of less sophisticated societies need to have more children because the medical resources, for example, are limited and scarce; meaning they are more likely to lose a few children to accidents, diseases and starvation/dehydration. In industrialised societies this is not the case, or at least, children are less at risk as they are more likely to be saved because of the availiable technological advances.

Thus, parents in socities of greater sophistication need not waste their availiable economical resources on producing many children because their reproductive success is sufficiently secured with only two children – or perhaps even one. Subsequently, they can spend their availiable resources more wisely, raising highly qualitative instead of quantitative children.

And that is why parents of industrial socities have few children. – At least according to my latest theory.

For the Sake of It

August 21, 2008

When I started this blog I had the intention to share some of my artwork in the posts, as well as posting works-in-progress and sketches I never show anywhere else. Though, as the weeks and months have passed, I never found the motivation to do this, thinking that my blog perhaps was more philosophical than artistic.

Well, I should not take myself so seriously, no one should. There are not too many people who ever come by this blog, and the regular readers amount to … none, as far as I know. So, I told myself, if I upload a sketch or a work-in-progress, or perhaps even a finished piece, every once in a while it will not matter. It will not take away from the overall feel of the blog or my entries.

I mean, it is not like I am a person one takes seriously in any matter, so why start now?

And lo and behold, a work in progress!

One of my latest beaded dolls half-an-hour before it was finished.

These beaded dolls are truly a pleasure to make, even if they take a week or so of on-off attention. When finished these dolls are about 10 centimeters (4 inches) in height and wrigh quite a lot for their petité size because of the some 5.000 glass beads and dozen pearls they have been embroidered with. Because of my fascination with anthropology and human pre-history the shape of the doll is inspired by the Venus of Willendorf. Finally, I may add, that this little beauty is number 5 of the six dolls I have created this far.

Science is nothing but a neverending quest for the ultimate truth. Science’s holy grail is the theory which is universally applicable to a subject area and which persistently endures and answers even the most challenging of questions. The theory which remains after all others have been eliminated can be seen as speaking with the most truthful of voices. However, while the world awaits the emergence of such a theory, there are many which compete in the battle of the memes of which has the greatest potential to survive for a “theoretical” generation longer.

Many of these theories are obvious, as often is the case in science where the simple explains the most complex. Finding great joy in reading all kinds of theories I come across several which I do not like because they seem ignorant, and yet more which I do like because their content is obvious when spoken of. What all such theories have in common is that they offer explainations for phenomenon which otherwise would be too abstract to visualise. They are the candles of science which illuminate the darkness of the world’s countless mysteries.

I often find myself nodding in agreement to the theories I read, I consider those memes valuable and as having the potential to succeed and eventually inspire the ultimate theory. Though I also come across theories whose memes I consider near stillborn, I never react in the way I have noticed some people do. Though I disagree, I try to understand, and though they at times conflict with my own beliefs, I trust that such theories and memes will be obliterated from the intellectual stage by the natural selection of truth and potential that all successful theories have to endure.

Many a wise scientist knows that the truth at times hurts and offends. I believe this to be a sign of health, as far as theories are concerned, for it proves that they consider nothing but the science and the facts; that they are objective. Objectivity means that the theories are unclouded by belief and personal conviction, and that they thus possess the potential to be applied to any related matter (and in many cases even unrelated ones as well!).

Not everyone understands that the truth is objective, however. It is hard to remain calm when insulted, of course, but if there is truth to the critique, then I am of the belief that one should consider its contents and incorporate the valid points into one’s own person and allow oneself to grow. Although I consider this belief a healthy one, is not everyone’s and some take the truth as attacks on their own person, reacting with rage when questioned instead of relying upon their objectivity to guide them.

When nodding in agreement to one particular theory I soon came to realise that I was nea alone when browsing the comments of the relevant blog post. Instead of being encouraging, intrigued and questioning as the comments of any potentially successful theory should be, the comments were aggressive and coloured by resent. This made me wonder, what is it that makes some people so easily offended? What is it that makes them defend themselves when they clearly are not personally attacked?

I have contemplated the question for a few hours now, and I have come to the conclusion that the reacions of such people is to be attributed to their genes. Though it may be the person that considers themself insulted, it is in reality the genes that fear for their future.

Genes are most fascinating collections of molecules. They may appear insignificant, but their influence is the greatest in the biological realm as they despite their size and to-humans-abstract nature they are the puppeteers which pull the strings that animate everything from behaviours to emotions and to actions.

The genes are selfish – I see Dawkins’s theory as an excellent meme as it yet has to be disproven by the over 30 years of challenges it has endured with great strength – and their ultimate goal is the attainment of the elusive but immensely appealing concept of eternal life. This is because the promise of the prospect is the final reassurement of their potential, as the ones who have travelled the farthest upon the paths of such a quest also are those which are the most valuable and prone to succeed in the future.

As people are biological beings created by selfish genes, their evolutionary goal is reproductive success. It may seem narrow-minded, but it is indeed true. People are little more than temporary vehicles in a race for the attainment of eternal life. It is only the best genes which survive the passing of the generations and they are constantly culled as their surroundings change, rendering each evolutionary generation more fit than the last.

So, what does all this have to do with people fearing and being offended by the truth?

The answer to this is – according to my own theory – that the truth may appear uncomfortable because it questions the value of the selfish genes. As some people find themselves critiqued (though indirectly) by the words of the theories, their genes’ potential for attaining their ultimate goal is questioned in turn, and for all who have come across truly self-centered people it is easy to see why this also offends the genes.

As the genes influence the human being’s way of behaving and reasoning – as the brain is the result of the best genes having come this far in the attainment of their quest – it is this effect which I have observed. The genes do not like to described as unfit and withut potential, and spoiled as they are because of their own achievements, they do not respond well to critique, believing themselves superior.

So, when a theory, for example, advocates that beautiful people are the most attractive because beauty is the visible effect of a healthy genome, there are those who can not remain objective and nod in agreement, because they become offended and claim that the truth is distasteful at best.

Their resentful reactions are the result of their genes having been insulted, the genes have been accused of having failed to build the ultimate vehicle contructed this far, that their creation’s potential reproductive success and the genes’ prospect of ever attaining eternal life is slim. Of course the genes are proud over their achievements, and as the person is the greatest advocate for their own genes, they will not allow anyone to question them, especially not as selfishness and the denial of critique is what has taken them this far.

The theories are therefore critiqued in an attempt for the offended person to protect their genes as they will not accept that a simple meme proclaims them inferior and questions their future success; the reactions are to be seen as an attempt to reinstitute lost value, a statement claiming that the person and their genes indeed are the very best.

In conclusion it may be theorised that genes easily offended by memes are impeding the progress of the memes which hold the key to explaining the nature of the reasons which motivate the genes.

According to evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa in both one of his books–Why Beautiful people Have More Daughters–and in a recent entry in his blog The Scientific Fundamentalist, there are still unanswered questions left for the theories of evolutionary psychology to answer, elaborate and explain. It should come as no surprise as the realm of science has been gifted with a never-ending supply of enigmas in need of exploration.

The evolutionary psychology’s unanswered question No. 8–by Kanazawa’s count–is the following:

Why do parents in advanced industrial nations have so few children?

As my mind is too easily intrigued and inspired by unanswered questions within fields I one day would like to be seen as knowledgeable in,–and because I have problems minding my own business,– I of course came up with a small theory, or perhaps more of a statement, to the question (which I of course should have elaborated further before posting on the blog at 2AM this morning):

Though the ultimate goal of a parent is to raise as many children as ever possible, as it is the purpose of the parent’s life and the greatest desire of their genes, there is a limit, for there are few cases to my knowledge where parents have produced children in large quantities without any sense of control.

This “limit” is abstract as there was no such thing as contraception in the ancestral environment. Though the genes desire nothing but reproduction, they can not be allowed to dictate all rules of human reproduction as it would not be very evolutionary sound. Thus, there are genes ensuring that the human (and all other animals, mammals in particular) mindsets see to the quality instead of the quantity.

This concern is the reason for the use of contraception. Though it is a modern invention, it is less tiresome than the act of carrying a child only to abandon it later because of the limited resources all have to keep in mind. Contraception is an effective way of maintaining the quality of the offspring as fewer resources are required by the bearing of a child that can not be raised without its siblings suffering.

In the industrial world there is a cost to everything, and thus it is very expensive to raise even one child. (Figures near $100.000 are often mentioned.) Without near-unlimited economical resources–or in the ancestral environment resources in particular–it is close to impossible to raise a great number of children and the reason for why few do.

For, as the genes desire nothing more than to live on for yet another generation, and the human being only is the means to an end in this matter, it is more evolutionary sound and successful to raise a few children instead of the maximum number one may produce; quality over quantity.

Are few children raised when resources are scarce, then their chances of reaching adulthood and to successfully reproduce are greater than if many children were raised with the limited resources and none of them recieved enough to reach a reproductive age.

To conclude this reasoning I would like to point out once more that the number of children parents in industrialised societies have is closely related to the parents’ financial status.

This can easily be observed if focus is placed upon the lower-, middle- and upper-classes: parents of limited resources are more likely to raise only one child while parents of somewhat greater resources may raise one or two more. However, among the wealthiest it is very common for parents to raise more than three children–it is more a rule than an exception–and in some cases the number of children may be as great at 10.

Notice: I supplemented this theory with considerations unthought of in th post above in a more recent blog entry.

While browsing the Encyclopaedia Dramatica – a site of questionable (but at times all too entertaining) content – for reasons which need not be elaborated for the sake of this argument, I came across an article upon the topic of Richard Dawkins.

Dawkins is, as most are aware of, a British ethologist and evolutionary biologist as well as the author of several successful books on popular science. I have read three of his works – The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker and The God Delusion.

They were all most enjoyable books, though I at times thought them a bit tiresome because some of the arguments presented are obvious to all gifted with a bit a lot of common sense. In other aspects the books were also labouring points already made clear. Dawkins’s reasons for this may of course be to ensure that all readers understand the key points fully, which is admireable, but for those of greater wits it may at times be a bit irksome.

However, the ideas presented by Dawkins in his works are most though-provoking, and I especially enjoyed The Selfish Gene because of the inspiration for understanding other abstract concepts it provided one with. Through that book I gained greater insight of a subject I myself would like to refer to as being closley associated with the ideas presented by the theories of evolutionary psychology; only that Dawkins’s writing explaines how it has come to be so, what evolutionary psychology elaborates further and explains why it indeed is so.

To again refer to the Encyclopaedia Dramatica – which I get the impression of it being authored by people of admireable satirical talent with all too much time on their hands – it failed to get its point across: to prove Dawkins a fraud. It is mostly because they employed little evidence when debunking his character.

What I was told by the satirically pompous article, whose language made me titter on more occassions that one, were facts about Dawkins’s person which are easily explained by anyone who has only the slightest knowledge of human behaviour, and especially so if one knows a little about evolutionary psychology. This, I may point out, is even when a person like myself who have only studied introductory works within that field is concerned.

The rest of the article painted Dawkins’s accomplishments with the most entertaining of words. However, inbetween those words of intended sarcasm, I found truths impossible to deny. – It is indeed so that here are no perfect people upon this earth. Though Dawkins’s has undertaken an admireable task of exposing the true face of religion, he may at times go a bit too far.

A quote taken from the article:

90% of militant atheists on the net are raving Dwakins fanboys. … To troll them, try politely suggesting Dwakins is maybe a little too forceful in his ideological crusade – instant rants and butthurts will follow.

Indeed, I do agree to above statement that Dawkins may be a bit too forceful on his quest, something I myself noticed while reading his books, and especially so The God Delusion. Dawkins does at times have obvious problems to maintain his objectivity. It is a human trait to react that way when under the influence of great passion and dedication to a mission and goal, but when one has the opportunity to speak through writing, such passion should be muted – no doubt – as the strongest of conviction’s voices are those which retain their calm.

Is is also so that atheists – and people in general – tend to become overly passionate and blind when elaborating topics of their convictions. It is so that athesists often find joy in pointing out the hilarious strength of religious’ convictions, but the truth is that such strength is more of a human trait than one related to religion as even the atheists are under its influence. I have many times been struck to the irony of this, and especially so upon the boards of Dawkins’s official web site.

Dawkins’s forum is supposed to be a “free-thinking oasis” and it was the allure of such a quote which inspired me to become a member of the site. I however soon realised that the waters of the oasis had been poisoned by the convictions explained above, and that the debated ideas were not coloured by the freedom I had hoped for, but by the passionate hatred I have learnt atheists and religious share alike. Thus, I have left the forum in the belief that there is no such thing as oasises whenever people are involved, no matter the nature of their convictions.

Fanatics come in all shapes and sizes, something I theorise is an effect of the religious gene(s).

Fanatics come in all shapes and sizes, something I theorise is an effect of the "religious gene(s)".

This, the above elaborated, was however the only thing I agreed to as the rest of the article, as previously mentioned, only consisted of sarcastic comments describing Dawkins’s achievements.

The following quote explains to me with obvious strength that (probably a majority of) the article has been written by people of religious beliefs, and especially so the last sentence:

Richard Dwakins plans to be the next L. Ron Hubbard of the atheist movement. The word ‘belief’ will be outlawed and the only things that people can think about without being emotionally abused or physically attacked are that things Ayn Rand says are the ultimate truth, and cannot be questioned. Ever. This is called ‘Free Thought’. He does not plan on being gang banged by demon niggers while burning in Hell, which is ironic because thats exactly what is going to happen.

The point which the author(s) have failed to understand, is that belief is more hurtful than science. I shall not question that some people find comfort in believing that there is a supreme being who watches over them, but I personally find it to be little more than a simple explaination of the world’s most extraordinary phenomenon and which serves as a candle in the dark for those of weak minds.

Science, on the other hand, does not hurt people. It is not somehting one believes in, it simply is. And that is because it has been proven. It is true that science never may defeat God, as such a being’s existance will be hard to disprove. Equally so are however extraterrestial beings’ existance – impossible to believe in, but very possible to suspect being real – to mention just one example, and that is the exact reason why people should not believe. Blind faith is nothing but blind as it based upon no evidence. In order for the human mind to remain unclouded, it must also remain objective. To believe is not to be objective, if I am allowed to point out the obvious.

What the above quote described as an infringement of the right of freedom is actually an act of liberation. Although an attempt destined to fail, it is done with humanity’s best in mind. For, a civilisation such as our own can not ever be expected to progress when people blinded by belief constantly pull the brakes and lower the rate at which new discoveries are made. The examples describing this are many, but I see stem-cell research as one, and creationism being taught in schools instead of evolution, as another.

I say that Dawkins’s mission is destined to fail because I do not believe that all people are disillusioned atheists. I read an article in a science magazine a few years go which theorised that there may be something such as a gene for belief, that a part of the human genome renders its possessors able to believe in what contradicts even the most obvious of truths corroborated by science. In the past this was of course an excellent trait, to believe and not to question. The human being has not evolved since then, but his societies have, and in the current age of man, belief is highly overrated.

Yet another section of the Dramatic Encyclopaedia states:

Dwakins invented a new way of looking at culture. His genius could pave the way for a new understanding of social phenomena! Trip on this bitches: have you ever thought of different cultural trends as being sort of like viruses? Like how if someone gets excited about a movie and then everyone is sort of ‘infected’ by the ‘craze’? You have? Oh.

Anyway, Dwakins’s amazing new theory is based on his idea of ‘just take a biological framework and slap it onto whatever the fuck you want’. He calls it memetics. He also invented the word meme, which no one on the internet uses.

What the satirically gifted writer of those above words has failed to understand is that humans indeed are biological beings and that all their actions thus may be contributed to their biological nature. The “biological framework” mentioned is what dictates the rules of all human actions and behaviours. For those in doubt, I would like to refer to a most enlightening book of great value in my eyes: “Why beautiful People Have More Daughters: Two Evolutionary Psychologists Explain Why We Do What We Do” by Alan S. Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa.

Man is in no way a creature positioned above the biological realm. He is a part of its intricate structure, as is any equine or any insect. Though people like to believe themselves sentient and more than simple animals, they are still nothing but sophisticated primates. It does not matter the subject – jealousy, culture, love – the actions are all described and motivated by the human being’s biological brain. Thus, Dawkins is right in his claims and the author of the sarcastic words has misunderstood their own situation in the world.

Fact is that the article writer’s dislike for Dawkins’s person may be explained by a biological framework as well as the evolutionary psychology which is its derivative as Dawkins questions the writer’s convictions and thus, the writer feels threatened. It is a most natural response and one which we all have experienced at one time or another.

So, to elaborate:

Dawkins’s memes are threatening the success of the writer’s genes. Their convictions are opposing and Dawkins is a dominant character in this play set upon the biological stage. If the writer’s convictions are not defended, his genes will lose out to Dawkins’s – the rival will be the victorious one. The writer’s only defence is to explain to the world that Dawkins is nothing but a – I quote – “tea-drinking Brit and ‘bitchy whiner'”, with hopes of that potential mates will see the writer as the possessor of the most successful genes.

This argument of mine may of course appear abstract, but what must be kept in mind is that there was no such thing as the Internet, online dramatic encyclopaedias or sarcastic articles in the ancestral environment. The purpose of such defamation – whether digital or not – is however always the same: to allow the defamer’s genes to appear as being the most superior ones. Ironically, this is what The Selfish Gene hints at – that a person is under the influence of their genes’ desire for survival as a person is nothing but a vehicle created by genes for genes.

Finally, the question is of course at libery to be asked why I have based this piece of writing upon an article seasoned with obvious lack of seriousness. I will try to explain my late-night act by simply telling you that the article amused me greatly as its intended purpose of proclaiming Dawkins a hoax ironically was carried out by actions determined by the biological units Dawkins has explained to the world through his written works.

Though the sun is shining outside and the weather is quite amiable, I feel as if my life is going no-where; that all I am really good for is to sit in front of the computer and do no-thing but stare into thin air, awaiting the arrival of something extraordinary.

Though, the extraordinary is so much more than the ordinary, and as my life is devoid of even the most mundane of ordinary events, I believe I will have to stare into nothingness for eternties before something extraordinary accidentally happens to stumble past my glazed vision.

I am anxious as I intend to apply to Cambridge University’s Archaeology and Anthropology-program this fall, in little more than a month, and I need to finish my application.

I have a certificate of Advanced English (though I in reality would have preferred a certificate of Proficiency in English, something my own inability kept me from attaining).

I also have grades far above what is required, something which at first surprised me and which I now appreciate as it is one thing less to be worried about.

The school/college reference I trust one of my high school teachers will be kind enough to complete for me, as they are most delightful people – all of them. <3 Yet another thing I do not have to feel anxious regarding, in other words.

…And then there is the personal statement, the most important part of any university application. Though I have laboured its creation for more than half a year (I believe it being) I have come nowhere.

Though I believe myself independent and carefree, I can not help at the same time being bit of a cultural chameleon/social sponge. I absorb and react to the environment I am in; a trait of mine I am not fully convinced is either good or bad.

However, this means that though I am Miss Josephine who is no-one but herself, I have also adapted to fit into Swedish society, something I always have feared doing.

As I outlined in my January 18th entry It Is Taboo To Believe, it is hard for a genuine Swede to believe themself valuable.

The effect of this – my inability to value my own accomplishments and to fully understand who I am – has created problems for me as far as the personal statement is concerned.

It is hard to outline one’s potential and accomplishments when one believes in them, but during a whole life has been taught that no one else does. Of course, my family has always supported me, but to not be looked down upon by society and subsequently enable one to succeed, one has to fit into one of the templates assigned to one.

So, in other words, it is hard to write a short essay about what one during a whole life has been taught is taboo to even speak of – one’s value, potential and future.

And so I sit here, wondering what I have accomplished. I have come to the conclusion that though my grades are good, they are not the best. Sufficient, but not amazing.

I wonder, how am I supposed to explain in my statement my reasons for studying a subject unrelated to the one I now wish to pursue? To write that I am stubborn is probably not the best as the University is looking for applicants with minds open to new ideas. But then, I ask myself, as I realised my original convictions wrong, can then not this be considered as an openness of mind?

I do not know.

How shall I explain my academic potential impeccable when I have gone through little to illustrate my value? In reality, having dropped out from a college of high standards, claiming the courses offered were at a level too low would be sufficent illustration of this – but that is in my own mind.

Is having dropped out from a college and spent half a year on a quest to once more find oneself proof of academic potential? Have I wasted six months of my life to no good? For, I could very well have done something different – accomplished something. But then, had I done that, I would still be looking for myself.

I am now about to study a full-time course in Archaeology at the University of Gotland. Being terrified of ever moving away from home – but at the same time having realised that my future lies far away from the lands of my birth – I study the subject on-line.

Doing so, though the course is offered full-time, means I will have a lot of time on my hands to spend in the pursuit of other accomplishments. What has be kept in mind here, however, is that Miss Josephine is a Swedish native (even if it is involountarily so) and thus unfamilar with the status surrounding accomplishments. In many ways, it is a dimension of life unknown to most Swedes.

So, there is a nagging voice in the back of my mind, the inner Miss Josephine who is anxious beyound comprehension about the prospect of probably not being good enough to ever fit into a fine British University, telling me to do something.

But, what to do?

I could very well apply to become a substitute teacher, but I have no experience whatsoever with previous work with children. Further, I have already been rejected once by the association, something I like to believe being because of my then prospective full-time nursing studies, though I in reality know it was because of my severely lacking skills when it comes to interaction with other human beings.

So, if that option is impossible, then there must be others.

I had an idea, one which appealed to me greatly, of studying two full-time courses this upcoming year: one in Archaeology at the University of Gotland and one in Japanese at the University of Stockholm. One on campus, one on-line. I could have passed both two courses with flying graces, be sure. I do not doubt my own potential, I only doubt people’s convictions in my own potential.

However, I happen to live in Sweden – which should be obvious this far into the argument – something which makes my life very complicated. I have stressed these points before, but what is one more time when it is my future I am speaking of?

In Sweden, there is no way a student may be allowed to take two full-time courses at two different universities. No way. Never. Whatsoever. And so, I had to choose. And I chose Archaeology because I want to study Archaeology and Anthropoogy at the University of Cambridge next year. I believe it will show the admissions committé that I am passionate about my prospective subject.

However, not being able to study Japanese means I still am without proof of further accomplishments.

I could of course take a part-time job, but as I lack academic training and because there is no such thing as anthropology in Sweden, that option is also exhausted, to not say impossible and unattainable. (For, what point is there to be employed at the local food-store when it is no accomplishment to mention in one’s personal statement?)

Then, the creative Miss Josephine tells me: “Why do we not become artists?”

I could very well send my artwork to a few publishing companies for consideration. I believe myself somewhat talented, enough to land a position as a children’s book-illustrator. Perhaps. Mayhaps. Maybe.

But what is such an accomplishment to mention in one’s personal statement when it must be completed in little more than a month? It is to no use, and is thus a future plan, not a current one.

I could of course continue writing my own children’s books and illustrate them, as well as continuing to go insane over my novels(s) and my short stories. I could of course continue to paint my stones, bead my necklaces, embroider my dolls, sew my plushies, write in my Moleskine, sketch in my notebooks – being creative.

I would like this very much. But it is nothing one can put in a personal statement. That I am an artist and an anthropologist at heart may be too ambiguous for the admissions committé to appreciate. And still, that is who I am.

The person I see myself as being in 20 years of time is exceedingly boring, and still the prospect of it makes my heart skip a beat.

In 20 years – or perhaps much sooner that that – I see myself the resident of a adorable cottage in a rural area, the surrounding fields mine to roam, the surrounding forests mine to explore, vthe elvet-black starry skies mine to marvel over.

In that future, I am married with children. I am a trained anthropologist and I hold a part-time position as a university lecturer as I also am a teacher at heart. When not elaborating complex therories regarding the origin of the human form, its evolution and its current situation – its thoughts, its psychology, its purpose – I will be a mother, a novelist and an illustrator.

Academic works and novels both flow from my hands and imaginationg, alongside with children’s stories and associated illustrations, not to forget the short stories and their moral messages.

It is a future I find delight in imagining, and still, I believe the qualities of mine which bring me such joy are those which will keep me from attaining the future of my dreams.

That I am an artistic anthropologist is not something to be proud over. Oh no. In this world one has to be specialised, interested in one area only. Passions may not be many, they shall be few.

But then, is there any room left for one’s own being to grow, as one’s true purpose in this world is to be both happy and realise all the quirks of one’s own person?

I believe not.

So, who is this elusive creature otherwise known as Miss Josephine? What is it she wishes to write on her personal statement and knows she may not?

Miss Josephine wishes to explain her potential through an elaboration os the following concepts:

  • That she possesses an open mind as she is able to realise original, foolish convictions wrong.
  • That she is a creative scientist, something she believes a pre-requisite for academic success – to possess both wits and imagination to propel scientific advances forward through.
  • That she sees herself as a teacher, her aim being the attainment of a doctorate degree.

These are all marvellous concepts, so why is Miss Josephine in doubt? She does not know herself, is the short answer to such a question…

(…but it may have something to do with that she just accidentally snapped her last beading needle in half, is running out of beads, and the supply store is located a 40-minute walk away from her current location as commuteer communications are scarce over that distance, and she can not leave home as she has been assigned to baby-sit her two youngest sisters who are reluctant when it comes to covering distances 40 minutes by foot.)

Ah well, all I have to do is to labour my personal statement for a month and a week longer before the long wait of anxious anxiety begins, being ended by devastating disappointment or by ambiguous appreciation.