Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Finding My Identity

Over lunch today, a conversation ensued regarding the hubs disbelief that I could 'pay' someone for running advice when he [the hub] specialized in this in college, has a degree in the subject, has personal and coaching experience and knows me better than this stranger. I obviously do not care for his opinion when I go out and do this and yet come back to "give him a play by play and rub it in his face."

It was hard to hear these words because they stung, truth is that I care very much about the hubs opinions on the subject, I just do not want to be 'coached' by the hub. Contrary to his popular belief, it does not have much to with him but everything to do with my own personal flaws. These are the things I am aware of, but try desperately try to hide. I will go so far as to allow someone to think the wrong idea so that I do not have to point out my weakness.

This is not how it is supposed to be, but it is how I am.

Problem: I do not know who I am. (There, I said it.) I am many things, but at the core of who I am, I don't know. This is a struggle I've been dealing with for many years now without any real answers. I can tell you that thru all of this, I have found many things that I am not but not the one thing that I am. I seek the answers only to find that I desperately cling to anything I can call "my own" until I can define what my own is. The hub, on the other hand, is very comfortable in his own skin, sure of who he is and what he wants so he cannot fully understand this dilemma I have.

Identity is your backgrounds and genetics, culture and religion, traditions and hobbies. It is what makes you. (wikipedia)

It is said that "To know who you are, you need to first come to know who you are NOT." For me, that is the easy part. I was adopted when I was a year old and raised by a family who did not hide the fact that I was adopted. I was raised in a town where my biological family resided and everyone around me knew who I was and where I began this life. I was not part of the family I was raised, I didn't look like these people, I didn't share the same gene pool, for all intense purposes I wasn't in the age group as any of the other kids either. I was just...me.
Eventually I came to know my bio-family members, but by then I was 18 and I was not like them either. I looked like these people, but 18 yrs had provided a certain way of thinking and these people did not share the same ideas. A decade after the fact, I know these people, but I do not necessarily think of them as family or as my own.

So how do you begin to define yourself, to know yourself if you don't know (don't associate) with any beginning or perhaps associate with multiple beginnings?

For me, having a past such as this allowed me the opportunity to redefine myself many times over. Each time I learned what I was not
- I was able to throw caution to the wind and change paths. The problem with 'growing older' is that eventually your backpack becomes a tote which turns into luggage and massive self-redefining changes aren't really conducive to that environment. I can admit that with each change I've taken valuable lessons from who I was and who I'd like to be, sort of like a piece of the puzzle of who I want to be. I've collected many of these over the years and today I am trying to figure out where they go and how each one fits.

What I struggle to find, is the words to convey to the hub (as well as myself) that I'm not finished. I am a work in progress and even though I am older, a little wiser and a lot more determined I am still a piece of everything I once was, which means I still don't know how to not rush to the ending and skip over the middle. I am looking for what defines me, what one thing will flip that switch so the light bulb shines brightly and I can say - this is me.

I don't know if this is a pipe dream or if I am living in reality with this grand notion of "me," but that hasn't stopped me from trying. I have goals that allow me to define the direction in which I am moving at this moment...I may continue down this path long term and I might find something along the way that detours me onto a new path. I struggle to find my inner identity, my voice. To define who I am in relation to who I want to be. I just find it hard to define myself when I see so much of myself in the hub. In all fairness, I can't say this is the hubs fault, because I've always found it easier to fight the pull of authority/more knowledgeable people. It's not that I think I know better, I just want to know both sides before I make a decision.

Do you know who you are? Want to be? Have you struggled with 'finding yourself?'


Jojo said...

Oh I've struggled with "finding" myself for the longest time. I always acted like other people until one day when I was about 20ish, I thought well shit, this is not me. I don't think who we ARE has to be a static definition. I mean we change all the time... Ok here's the thing, in weight loss, they have this thing "fake it, till you make it" I think that kind of works. I was faking who I was until one day I became IT and there were many parts of the "fake" that became real and many that I dropped. I don't know does this make sense?

"Finding myself" has made me a bonafide bookworm. I find that we can learn from books more than people and I can secretly be like a book heroine and nobody will accuse me of pretending. I'm such a dork...

Semi-Charmed Wife said...

First of all, I wouldn't let my husband coach me either. It has nothing to do with not knowing who I am; it has to do with the fact that our relationship is supposed to be an equal partnership. Coaching is more of a student-teacher or parent-child dynamic, and I don't want to bring that into my marriage because it would make me resent him. So I'm totally with you on that!

Second, do I know who I am? On some days. It changes pretty often, and it depends on who I'm with. I tend to take a much more fluid approach to identity. I don't think it's a fixed object that I'll "find" one day. I think who I am changes and evolves and reacts to others, and I think that's fine. I'm a different Jen with my husband than with my coworkers or my best friend or my sister. And I think that's FINE!

I tend to focus less on who I am and more on WHY I am. What am I here to do? What is my calling? What is my purpose? Those are the questions I wrestle with...