Our Internal Pronouns Are We/Us

My public pronouns are she/her. My kid’s pronouns are they/them. I like that we now have gender neutral pronouns. As I’ve gotten used to using them, I find I’ve started to use them as the default choice. For example, I might inquire about a new pet I am meeting for the first time, What’s their name? Or if a friend tells me about someone new in their life I might say, Cool, what’s their deal? What are they like? 

Because I have been involved in a lot of pronoun talk over the last few years, I just noticed a few days ago that I often refer to myself as we. My friend and I were driving to Runyon Canyon for a hike. Excited to get back into shape now that the weather is cooling down, we were conversing on the state of our at home work outs. She hadn’t done any yoga that week. I said: We haven’t either. One of us really wanted to this morning but another one didn’t. Guess who won?

I do this a lot but only became conscious of it in that moment. Unlike the larger pronoun conversation the world is having, this is not about my identity and I don’t wish for other people to refer to me this way. But it does make me reflect on why I do this.

Don’t we all contain contradictions? Thinking of myself as a we is a way of unifying a bunch of unruly and disparate impulses, desires, and actions. Some of us want to eat Pringles. Others of us want less belly fat. Some of us want to read books all day, others of us want to get stuff done. I don’t know if they are the same people. They don’t feel like the same people. They make too much noise for one person. Some of them I like more than others, but we are a gang and it’s definitely an all for one and one for all internal situation.

Does anyone out there also use an inner we when talking to themselves?

Sidewalk Face 1023

17 thoughts on “Our Internal Pronouns Are We/Us

  1. I’m an I. My friend with DID refers to themselves as we to those in the know. My younger child identifies as they/them. They let us (me and the husband) know about 6 months ago. A colleague gave us a really interesting book to read about pronouns.
    I think it’s good to refer to people as they want to be referred to. That said , my kid has said that they know someone who instead of they/them wants to be something like calf/whale. Which I think is a little…weird.
    But each to their own.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi E. Thank you for your thoughtful response. I have found pronouns to be tricky because my mouth seems to be uttering the default programing before my mind can catch up, meaning I say something different than what I intend. We think we control our speech but much of it just blurts out faster than we are even aware. You don’t necessarily realize this until someone asks you to change a very old and established pattern. It takes considerable time and intention and frankly practice. I think that’s one reason people can be annoyed at unusual requests. Assuming they want to honor the requestee, they may just not feel they will be able to remember and use the specific request. I try to honor whatever will make people feel respected. But I mess up a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have not referred to myself as “we” except as a collective “we.” And I stretch “we” to attach my wife to certain words when I do not have explicit permission to speak for her. I think she does the same for me. Like you said, I want to honor what others prefer. But habits are going to insure I mess up!

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    1. The marital and familial “we” does became a huge part of our identity. We are somewhat sublimated to that larger whole, sometimes gratefully, occasionally with resentment. Is my “we” in these sentences including you or is it me just talking and me. Which ever you prefer is the interpretation I desire!


  3. I confess I am struggling with the new pronoun usage. I tell myself I must not be a grammar granny.
    Of course we all have different facets to our lives and personalities and referring to oneself as we is a good way of acknowledging this. And you are in the good company of the queen!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The new usage of they/them is grammatically incorrect from how it has been used and taught so it feels quite odd and maybe even a tad unnerving. But like everything new, the rightness of the grammer changes as you use it. The new usage starts to feel like the correct use after a lot of practice. At least for me. The older you are the harder it is because all our peers have always used it one way and we all retain those collective memories of speech. It feels like swimming up stream. It’s easier for young people because they don’t have that historical weight and being playful, trying new things, making new things, it’s natural at that time of life. I do think it’s a really good development for humanity, to have genderless options. Not because we don’t have and experience gender, of course we do, but because we do have more than a binary and it’s wonderful to honor the fullness of human experience.

      I didn’t mean to go on like this to your lovely comment. It just sort of flowed out. I know many people who find it difficult and I have found it difficult to change my language so I am just rolling that all around and trying to articulate my observations about it. And your comment sort of spurred that on. Hope it’s okay with you!

      I want to also say that I LOVE your Book of Rings! And if anyone here is reading this comment, you should check out Mariss’s blog. She is a master of her medium and makes the most unusual, delightful and exquisite things. I won’t tell you what they are but scroll through her blog and find out!


  4. I also find myself using they/them a lot in general, just like the examples in your first paragraph. When in doubt, it’s nice to have a default choice! Like talking about someone’s pet, or when someone is talking about their friend/coworker/neighbor/etc and you don’t know the person’s gender. It’s nice that grammar is evolving.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve actually noticed this during journalling—I’ll either call myself ‘you’, ‘I’, or ‘we’. I sometimes feel like there are different people inside my mind, and the pronouns I use when I journal depends on who’s at the helm, weirdly enough.

    Liked by 1 person

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