14 March 2008

Human, Define Thyself

(Warning: This is kinda deep, read at your own risk)

I've been thinking a lot about this lately, so forgive my self indulgence for a moment. As humans, I know we tend to ask the "Who am I?" question a lot. There is, of course, the obvious answer: I am a child of a loving Heavenly Father, who sent me here to learn and grow and prepare to return again to him. I know this; I have a testimony about it. That particular part is not my problem.

I start thinking about the labels we put on ourselves or that society puts on us. These are the things that define our personalities. I guess I'm asking myself, "What am I?" For example, I can define Doug: He's a computer programmer, a gamer, an intelect, a great husband and an amazing father, an organizer, a money manager. He's quiet, avoids social situations, prefers the company of his family, he's a worrier. All these things (and probably more) define who Doug is. In my eyes, Doug is special. He has qualities that nobody else I know has.

Then I think of my labels. I'm a mom. I'm a return missionary. I have lots of hobbies that I'm okay at, but not spetacular. I never went to college, so I have no degree. If something were to happen to Doug today, there would be no way I could support us. So is that it? Am I defined my something I did for 18+ months of my life 5 years ago and how my child(ren) will turn out?

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not downplaying motherhood. Its an important calling. I love it, and I love Sariah. The world would not keep turning without mothers, but I don't want to lose my identy while I raise my kids. I don't want them to all grow up and move on and I have nothing left to do. I don't want to feel like I have to keep mothering when its past time because that's all I know how to do.

My problem is more like Salieri's in the 1984 movie Amadeus (minus the crazy revenge part.) Its mediocrity. I do a lot of things average, but I don't do one thing well. There are things I wish I did well, but they are either not practical or I am limited by my imperfections. I identfy with Salieri's frustrations. In the story of my life, I am always somebody's sidekick.

Life is about balance. We've kicked around the idea of me attending a local community college or something of the sort, but its unrealistic while child(ren) are young and not in school, since I refuse to send them to a day care when I can be here to be with them during these early years. I also don't really know what I would even study if I returned to school. Few things interest me much that I would enjoy studing, and those things would either be nonpractical with having a family (theatre production for instance) or things I'm once again just meodicre in.

Then there's the labels people put on us. Thoughs and stigmas I can't control. Often I feel like these are mostly negative. Isn't it hard to really say what others are thinking about us though? Yet, its easy for these perseptions to bring us down.

So until that time when I really figure out who, or what, I am, I'll do my best to be the best mom I can be and do those little hobbies and things that bring me some joy. The world will keep moving on and people will continue to do things beyond my control and I will someday, somehow define myself.


Lisa said...

Very deep. I can't tell you how often I think these same things. Even if you do find something you're good at, it might not be enough for your subconscious fears. Take me--I'm really good at both knitting and sewing. I could absolutely keep my family clothed (well, the girls--pants are hard), but I will never be a professional knitter or seamstress. And I'm ok with that. I saw on Oprah, years and years ago, a show about labels--our own, the ones others give us, and the ones we think others give us--and she said that labels don't define who we are, only what we do. "Mom" is not who I am, it's what I do, etc. The only thing any of us can do is keep doing what we do and try to come to realize who we are. Sometimes it takes some real digging because we all tend to get caught up in the doing and not the being. My best suggestion is to spend a little time (at least once a month) to shed all your usual labels and pigeonholes, and explore something. It could be a field of study, or a hobby, or a culture, or anything. So many thoughts... I'll have to expand on my own space.

Jenny said...

That was a great post, Marin! Well written.

I agree that we have to be ourselves, beyond just what we do. I am a mother. But, I am more than that. I think it's important that we continue to develop our talents, spirituality, etc. It's part of why we're here. Good luck as you figure out who YOU are.

Susan said...

Sorry I haven't commented sooner. I've read your post several times and I've thought about it off and on all week. A couple of months ago I actually started writing a similar post but was afraid I would offend someone. But why do we all like to put labels on each other so much? She's a mom. She's a career woman. She's a bad cook. I especially feel this in our church sometimes. Supposedly we accept everyone, but we're so quick to expect everyone to be perfect at everything which is just not possible. And even though I'm not yet a mom, I have worries about whether or not I'll be able to retain my own personal identity when I have children. Will I stop playing the clarinet? Will I have time persue other interests? I guess time will tell.

Anyways, I think you're doing a great job and I have no doubt that you will find a way to achieve balance in your life. I just read a pretty good article in Real Simple mag about finding yourself in the early stages of motherhood. Again, even though I'm not a mom, I enjoyed the article. I've decided it's OK to not meet other's people expectations as long as you're working hard to meet your own.