Have you ever thought: “Who am I and what have I become?” I had this identity crisis when one day I had this sinking feeling that I turned into my mother (with all due respect, Mom). It’s not every day that we really stop to ask “Who am I” and “Who am I becoming?” Maybe if we did stop and ask those questions more frequently we wouldn’t be so surprised when we find out who we have become.
I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that, after spending so much time blindly charging forward, I didn’t like where I ended up. When I finally awoke to that reality, I had to re-orient myself. Who am I? What do I want? What do I need? Who or what am I trying to become?
To help me look forward, I felt I needed to start with my past. I believe that, when we are young, we hide parts of ourselves that we decide are somehow undesirable: that rebellious girl; that scared girl; that sad girl; that outspoken, opinionated girl. The problem is, when we pack away those parts of ourselves we also pack away pieces that we might otherwise have chosen to keep. In other words, it’s hard to surgically remove only some parts without also taking out other pieces with it. For me, I unwittingly packed away my vulnerable girl, my joyous girl, my creative girl, and my accepting girl, when those “bad” parts were ordered away.
It was scary to uncover those parts that I gave away, but simultaneously liberating to reunite with those lost parts of myself , both good and bad. It was also hard to know how to begin the uncovering process. I went on an expedition to uncover my authentic self (Excavating Your Authentic Self, Ban Breathnach), the person I was before the hiding began. Ban Breathnach recommends you go back to your memories, mementos, photos, videos, family stories, recollections of friends, meaningful places, or anything else that will help jog your memory of your former self. When you gather your treasures, you can reconstruct who you were, what you dreamed about, and the things that used to bring you joy.
Interestingly, I dreamed of being a teacher one day. I loved to read, cook and dance (all still true). I had much wonder and love, and a vivid imagination. Though the girl Susanna is much less complex than the woman I am now, recommitting to those things that I loved helped me to ground myself so I could reconsider the direction of my life from more solid and joyful ground. Instead of asking myself, “Who should I be?”, I asked, “Who do I want to be?” The latter question led me in a direction such that I can now ask “Who will I be?” since my own passions and interests (instead of someone else’s expectations or needs) are now dictating my direction. I don’t know where this passion will lead me, but I do know that by approaching my life with openness and courage is leading me down my authentic path.
All: Don’t forget to send me questions or topics you’d like for me to discuss. Go either to this blog, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to the Talk to Susanna link on the left. Thanks! Look forward to hearing from you!