The more I dive into uncovering all of life’s secrets and unlocking the chains that keep us bound in feelings of complacency, shame and inadequacy, the more I find it coming back to one core piece: identity.
When we don’t know who we are at our core, we are easily shaken and easily fooled. Those lies that tell you you’re not enough, you’re unqualified, you’re unlovable, are easy to believe when you don’t know who you are, that you are enough, you are qualified, you are loved and you are capable because you are meant for this.
This isn’t just a pep talk. I’m not here to tell you who you are, only you can do that. I am here to guide you and encourage you on your journey to self-discovery. I want you to know you’re not alone. We all struggle from time to time knowing fully who we are, some of us struggle continuously our whole lives wrestling with this crisis of identity.
I didn’t know who I was before becoming a mom. I struggled with who I was and who everyone expected me to be. I tried so hard to balance the two and to put on a show for my audience, always being sure to wear the right mask whether I was at school, church, home, with friends. I never felt like myself because I didn’t know which version of me was really me.
When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I was over the moon. It was exciting, yeah, a whole new world for a young wife who’d recently quit the career field, but it was also reassuring, because now I “knew” exactly who I was. I’m a mom. And that’s where I tried to find my identity for three and half years.
I was convinced I was a mom before anything else; motherhood consumed me. I’m afraid when we enter motherhood not knowing who we are, we set ourselves up for a massive identity crisis, the clock is ticking on when exactly it will happen, but eventually you’re going to realize that motherhood isn’t who you are.
Motherhood is not your identity. I’m sorry if I’m dropping an atomic truth bomb on you right now, but it’s better you hear it now than walk into it unprepared. Motherhood is not your identity. It’s not who you are. It’s a relationship between you and your child.
While I’m on the topic, any relationship you’re in is not your identity either. Wife is not who you are. Sister is not who you are. Aunt is not who you are. These are relationships and require the work of a counterpart. If a relationship is your identity, you are putting half of your identity into someone else’s hands to determine who you are – that’s not fair to you or to them.
Your job isn’t your identity either, or your hobbies, or interests. Those are things you do, things that you have the right and the ability to change as you so please. You’re not stuck in a job you hate simply because it’s what you’ve always done, it’s not who you are, it’s what you do. Don’t get this confused.
Who are you, then?
I can’t tell you that. I can tell you that you have a calling and a purpose in your life. No matter what you believe – God, Universe, science – you know you aren’t here by accident, you aren’t here to play small, you have a higher purpose that supersedes all the trivial concerns of our modern society. The fact that you’re reading this right now, is a sign to you. You’re reading this for a purpose.
Let go of who you aren’t.
Everyone loves to run around putting labels on everything these days, making sure to fit perfectly into a box, or create a new box if there aren’t any available. I seem to recall back in the early 2000’s a huge movement in the teen magazines demanding that we drop the labels, “dare to be different,” don’t try to fit into a category, to be who we are. Where did that go?
Don’t put labels on yourself. You’re not just-a-mom, you’re not a stay-at-home-mom, you’re not anything but YOU. You can be all the things, or you can be just the important things, you can be ever changing. You are not the same as you were yesterday, you’ve had a whole 24 hours of growth and change and you won’t be the same person tomorrow. You are only YOU. And that is so beautiful and poetic and meaningful.
Take some time and really focus your energies on stripping away all the labels that have been put on you – whether by yourself, but especially by others – drop the expectations to be anything and everything. Your only obligation is to be fully yourself, and accept that your identity can be forever changing.
I used to pretend a lot. I pretended that I didn’t know every lyric to Eminem’s Lose Yourself when I was around my church friends. I pretended I didn’t fully experience the Holy Spirit when the right worship music came on the radio around my non church friends. I was a mess. I downplayed who I am because I was afraid that I wouldn’t fit in with the people who claimed to love me.
It didn’t stop there, I would resist the urge to karaoke in the car with my husband because I know he doesn’t feel the same about singing terribly for fun, and slowly over time that urge faded. The sad fact is, my husband isn’t bothered by my terrible singing, he loves me and loves to see me spontaneously having a great time, he just refuses to join in because that’s not who he is. I changed for someone who never asked me to change. That’s heartbreaking and I pray you never change who you are.
The world needs you, just as you are. You were created to be you, and only you are capable of filling those shoes of yours. The most powerful thing you will do in your lifetime is to discover who you are to your core and be you, authentically.