The Scott Shaw Blog

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Writing Your Own Bio

Writing your own bio (biography) is always a sticky matter. On one hand, if you have risen to the public eye, you need to present an overview of your life so that people can get an idea about who you truly are. That being said, it is a fine line between presenting facts and/or an idealized image of how you wish to be perceived.

Having had bios of myself posted on other people’s, organization’s, and publisher’s websites, as well as having my bio presented in catalogues, journals, books, anthologies, and the like, I have been forced into the position of viewing a lot of different ideas about who and what I actually am. Combine that with the crew of people out there that either love, hate, or don’t care about me at all, and there has been a large conglomeration of people who have said a whole lot of things, both positive and negative, true and false, about my life and myself and presented them as an actual biography, when they were anything but. It’s curious; really…

From the point of time when I needed to begin presenting my own bio, back when I was first beginning to write articles and books, I have tried to keep things as factually based as possible. But, it also must be interesting or no one will read it. Combine that with the fact that I really don’t care about things like martial art rank, (it has become so convoluted), college degrees, or whatever, and I have really struggled to not just say, “I’m just Scott Shaw,” and leave it at that. But again, as everybody
Out There wants to read something and/or to say something, if I don’t spell it out, than who will?

Throughout time, and due to life evolution, my self-created bio has changed somewhat over the years. I have removed things, I have added things, but all-in-all, all of that
stuff that has made up my life has created the who I actually am.

You know, in this day and age, so many things are very researchable. It’s really hard for anyone to lie about his or her background. This was not the case in times gone past. And, from this, a lot of people said a lot of things that weren’t really true about themselves. This is also the case about individuals who write about other people; it’s easy to check their facts but, the fact is, so few people actually do. They just believe whatever it is that they read. For all this and a lot more, if I (if you) don’t put the truth out there about myself/yourself, who will?

I think to a discovery I made about a decade ago. The results of the 1940 U.S. Census were revealed to the general public. The U.S. Census Bureau has this seventy-two year thing where a census is only released seventy-two years after it was conducted. I was sitting at a Starbucks in El Segundo one day, when the census had just been released, and I decide to look up my parents. …Seemed like a fun and obvious thing to do… As for my father, nothing was revealed that I did not already know. But, what I found out about my mother was pretty shocking, (at least to me). She had actually been married before she met my father. Wow, that was a revelation! She never told me that. None of my relatives: my aunt, my uncle, my cousins, none of them ever told me that. I don’t even know if my father knew, as he never told me. …Why she never told me, I have no idea. She passed away more than a decade before that census was released, as had all of her close relatives, so I had no one to question about what actually went on. But, there it was, the truth in front of my eyes. It blew me away. Who knows, maybe I have or had a sibling out there that I never knew about???

After discovering this fact, I, of course, tried to do some internet research into this subject. But, aside from her married name, that I saw on the census, I found nothing. And, as I don’t really have the financial means to hire someone to find out the what’s what, (I imagine that kind of research is very-very expensive), I have been left wondering.

Now, this is not the only case I have known about, that other people don’t know about. In my extended, via marriage family, (I’m saying this all very carefully), one of my now deceased family members had a child via another wife in Korea. His wife obviously knew, as did my part of that family, but his several children have never been told this fact. They don’t know that they have a sister (probably) still alive in South Korea. I know, but it is not my job or duty to tell them. It’s really none of my business so my lips are sealed.

It is like I have what I guess would be a first-cousin-in-law living in Japan. She is of half Korean descent. But, as her father remained in Japan after the war, when the rest of the family went back to Korea, he presented himself as a man of Japanese descent throughout his life. …For those of you who may not know, the Koreans were highly looked down upon in Japanese society so many of them never reveal their true ethnic origins. This is not uncommon at all. And, it still goes on to this day.

Anyway, the man, my uncle-in-law, married a Japanese woman. They had a daughter. She grew up believing she was wholly of Japanese descent. She got married to a Japanese man. They had a child. They came to visit America. She was directed to meet my father-in-law, (her uncle), who was a very outspoken person, and he told her about the truth of her heritage. She never knew. When her husband found out, he divorced her. Wow… Racism is everywhere.

What does this tell us? I don’t know? It is a complicated question. Is telling/is knowing the end-all answer to the all and the everything. Or, are some things kept secret for a reason?

So… Here we have an interesting issue. There are those people who want to tell you all about themselves. They want to list every accomplishment they have ever made. They want to be called by this or that title. They wish to be known as, “The Great,” whatever… Then, there are those who have something to hide. Something that they tell to no one. As in the case of my mother, she didn't even tell her son.

I’m sure my mother and all those others out there who hide something have their reasons. Though I don’t why my mother would not have told me something like that? I was always very honest with her.

Me, I’ve always been one of those people who tries to be as truthful as possible. If you ask me a question, I will give you an honest answer. Not everyone is like that, however. People lie, people deceive, people hide the truth, and people lie about the truth. But, the truth of the truth is, if you don’t tell everyone everything that means that you have lived a lie. And yes, as stated, I’m sure everyone has a reason for hiding what they hide. But, does that hiding, change the truth? No. At best, it only conceals it for a time. …A time until seventy-two years after the fact, when the U.S. Census lets a son know that his mother was married before she was wedded to his father and no one ever told him. As for me, (the son), all I am left with is the wondering why? And, I guess that’s life, there’s a lot of things that each of us will never know and, the fact of the matter is, most of these things we will never know that we didn’t know.