It comes to me sometimes, that I am not who I think I am.

I mean, who we are is so fluid, right? Is there really a central core of “Kirsten” that is sustained whether I am with my mother or friends or daughters or husband?

I know I can change a lot in each of those circumstances.

However, what started me thinking about this topic last night as I drove home from Old Market Pub in SW Portland was how I hadn’t found myself feeling “conservative” in a long time.

I grew up in Cleveland Heights where I ran with a crowd that was perceived as “hippy” and “liberal” by most Clevelanders.

But, for my entire undergraduate experience, I was “conservative” on the political spectrum. That was because I went to an even more ultra hippy and liberal school in Indiana.

In Japan, and now in Beaverton, I find myself with the persona of being “liberal.” I use earth-friendly products to clean. I try to buy organics. I volunteer for the Northwest Emergency Food Project in North Portland. I am a big public school supporter and voted for Obama.

At the Old Market Pub, I met a friend of a friend who reminded me how I felt in college. On the spectrum, he would be described as far more liberal than I, and it was a strange and unsettling feeling to have my self-image shift perceptibly down the continuum back towards “conservative.”

I drive almost everywhere I go. My family has a traditionalist set up with father working a full time office job and me as a stay at home mom. I don’t compost my kitchen scraps, have solar power, or rain collection barrels.

I don’t know where the bike paths are in SE Portland. I am not politically active beyond email and voting.

Sigh. How can our selves be so permeable to the expectations of others? No wonder people can become unreasonably upset and vicious if someone farther down the continuum then they labels that person “too liberal” or “too conservative” when that person thought they knew who they were!

It’s all relative, folks.