I sit here in the room at my parents' house that my mom has designated "the Julie" room." Pictures from my childhood adorn the walls and the dressers. My Kindergarten photo, my high school graduation photo, my college sorority photo.
What strikes me about these pictures is that at each stage in life, there were different things that were important to me. When I was in Kindergarten, it was about coloring, playing, and not peeing in my pants. When I was in high school, it was about first dates, graduating, and not feeling awkward in my own skin. When I was in college, it was about partying with friends, figuring what to do with the rest of my life, and still not feeling awkward in my own skin.
And I'd say that at each of those moments, that's how I defined myself - student, daughter, friend trying to not feel awkward in my own skin. But when I sat down to put together this blog, the cursor stared at me as I attempted to write the "About Me" section.
Who the heck am I?
Yeah I know, loaded question. If I were to ask you the same question, what would you say? My default is, well, "Mom" of course. It would have been "Wife" too, as of a couple years ago. "Mom and Wife." Was that it?
What about "daughter", "sister", "coffee drinker", "sleeper", "teeth brusher"? Okay, I know those last two are silly, but hey, I do those every day so don't those define me too? Is who we are defined by the role we play or were born into, or by what we do?
As with anyone who's gone through a time of crisis or a drastic change knows, crisis has a way of bringing you to your knees and breaking you open. For me, it was during my divorce. I began to examine who I really am. It became apparent that all the things that used to describe me could change.
"Wife" for instance no longer describes me. "Mom" - heaven forbid anything should ever happen to my kids, but what if one day I wasn't a mom anymore. What then?
I realized that I'd spent so much of my life trying to live up to all the roles that I played, even if the pressure was self-imposed: Be a good daughter by fulfilling my parents' wishes of graduating top of my class, getting a well paying job, and starting a family. Be a good employee by delivering on all my commitments, operating within the rules. Be a good mom by baking cupcakes for birthdays, making sure they wear thick coats.
But when it comes down to it, is that really who I am? It's what I do. So really, what makes me...me?
One day I decided to sit down with a pen and a journal and dive deep into myself to explore what makes me me. I decided that it boils down to two things: 1) what values are most important to me (i.e. If I am not operating in alignment with these things, I feel like I'm not living authentically). One might call them my "core values". And 2) what about me holds true no matter what role I'm playing?
So I thought I'd share with you what I came up with. I know this is deeply personal, but I share them in hopes that it may help spark some ideas for you.
My core values:
What else seems to hold true about me no matter what?
These are just a few things, and I learn more about myself every day. So when I ask myself, "Who am I?" I know it's more than the roles I play because roles can change. Situations can change. What about me guides how I navigate through life as those things change? What about me naturally shows up no matter what situation I'm in?
That is who I am. Who are you?
-- Love always, Julie
3/19/2018 08:51:41 pm
This is going to sound pretty morbid but I often think about what people will say at my funeral. Will they say I was the best implementation manager in all the land? Will they remember my allergic reactions to typos and grammatical errors? Will they rememeber the funky way I eat cereal? Like you, I’m constantly plagued with trying to define myself through a multitude of static labels. But that’s the problem, isn’t it? We’re not static. We’re incredibly dynamic and Life is all the more so. I think the journey you’ve shared thus far is beautiful, made all the more beautiful with the bumps along the way. Remaining steadfast in our core values is the prudent way to go. As for everthyng else...let the chips fall where they may. It could very well be the genesis of a new and more beautiful you. ❤️🙏🏼
3/19/2018 08:55:57 pm
Thanks Genie! You’re right...let the chips fall away as they may. Everything is impermanent. And I don’t think that’s morbid at all. It’s a great way to keep ourselves and our actions in check.
3/22/2018 07:47:32 am
Love the throwback pictures! :) I was curious if you’ve got the same expectations with your kids when it comes to school performance as your parents had for you and your sister? My parents had very high expectations without putting in a lot of effort. Nowadays, high parental involvement seems to be a requirement if you want your kids to excel (especially if they’re not naturally self-motivated).
Hi Vivienne! Good question! My kids are still fairly young - Kindergarten and 2nd grade, and my 2nd grader fortunately seems to naturally do well in school without too much nagging on my part. *knock on wood* With that said, the message that I try to land with them every day really is to do their best. That it's okay to compare themselves to other kids in order to get ideas for what they can do differently, but never to think that they're not good enough based on what other kids are doing.
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