How do I find myself?
How do I figure out who I am?
Have I lost myself in the midst of this stage of life?
These are questions I have heard from others and even asked myself at times. You would think it would be easy enough, right? I mean, I AM me. I KNOW me. I can figure this out easier than anyone else. I think.
But how do you decide who you are? Early in life I learned the easiest way for me was to look to other people I admired and try to become like them. I got pretty good at this. I would pick and choose the qualities I wanted and I would learn how to best display them for myself. But after doing this for so many years, I realized how exhausting it really was. I mean, I liked who I was because I had worked hard to carry all these great qualities I loved in others, but they weren’t me and I wasn’t really pulling it off as well as I thought I was. I came across fake because I was playing a role that did not belong to me.
I also took on characteristics handed to me because I wanted to fit in and be accepted. My most difficult role has been that of ‘scapegoat.’ When life didn’t go how it should, when others let me down or hurt me, when everything around me fell apart, there was always someone close by to tell me it was my fault. And for far too many years, I believed them.
Recently, I began asking myself the questions about who I really was. I wondered if I really did know myself enough to answer them honestly. So I began examining all of the qualities of others and the roles placed on me throughout my life that I lived out. Not just scapegoat, but that of Christian, wife, mother, teacher, friend, sister, daughter, etc. Am I living authentically in each of these roles or am I playing the part I want or the one given to me?
As I worked through these questions, I began to see myself emerge from the jumbled mess of everyone else I was carrying in my head. I began taking inventory of what was me and what was others. Then the most empowering thing happened. I started to see all of the characteristics I was once only emulating become a true part of who I am. I realized that I carried most of these things in me all along and now that I know I have them, I can drop the facade of trying to be like someone else.
I also realized that I only have to take the roles given me if I want them. I choose to be a daughter of the King, a sister in Christ, a mother to my awesome boys, a wife to my loving husband, and a teacher, as well as a learner. I am learning what it looks like to set boundaries and to be able to say, “I do not choose to be anyone’s scapegoat.” I will only take responsibility for what is mine. This has set me on a path to knowing more about myself than I ever realized I could.
I hope to never lose myself in any future stage of life. I know now just how freeing it is to wake up every morning and see myself staring back in the mirror instead of the person I was trying to be or the person someone else expected me to be.