Over many years I’ve reflected on who I am. What are the things that define me?
This year I’ll be reaching an age when apparently life begins. Yet, I’ve been here for a lifetime already. The whole of my life so far, in fact! I’ve worked out most of my bugs and kinks and I’m reasonably happy with this version of me. I know what I like and what I don’t like. I’ve developed the fortitude to stand my ground on the things that matter and know which battles to walk away from…mostly.
Growing up, we leave the family home with all its structure and rules and become our own selves. We work out who we are as individuals. We kick against the things that didn’t fit us and we mould ourselves into who we want to be. Having done that, we then think about “settling down”.
Thus begins THE COMPROMISE.
Having worked out who we are, we then set about finding another person to share a life with who fits in with our profile of who we think we are. (At this point it helps to know exactly who you are and what you want out of life and how to get it.)
I could go on here like some kind of relationship guru but I ain’t so I won’t.
In the past few years I’ve left a marriage which wasn’t working as well as a happy marriage should. I had a brief time living alone. I had an opportunity to be that younger version of myself (but older and wiser and ultimately more empowered). I could watch what I want on TV, eat what I want and when I want and I could wander around the house naked and dancing to whatever music suited me. Then all of that changed when I entered coupledom again. I had just re-established myself as an individual again only to have to go back to THE COMPROMISE.
I couldn’t run around doing just what suited me. I needed to consider my actions as they impact on the life of my partner. He might not want to eat the things I wanted to eat, nor watch the TV shows I wanted to watch or even watch TV at all! Everything is up for discussion. At first. Then, as a couple, we found our groove. Conversations about the minutiae diminish because we just know what we want to do. Conversations turn to more interesting and, ultimately, challenging topics…like “Do we want kids?”
Then comes the next phase of THE COMPROMISE.
This is the bit where any sense of individuality that you ever had left is consumed by the need to put the family first. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that…except you don’t even notice that you’ve stopped being an individual until you’ve almost disappeared.
Becoming a mother for the first time so late in life has brought an interesting set of things to deal with. I’m more established (i.e. set in my ways) than younger mothers who are probably still working on getting to know themselves the first time over. I’ve had a few runs at getting to know me and it’s different every time. Motherhood has required that I change my diet (no alcohol, almost no caffeine), my bedtime (don’t have one anymore), my habits (no computer games, reduced social media engagement, no wild nights out)…so many of the things that defined me. I hasten to add, it was my choice to become a mother and to take on these responsibilities. If I could change any of it I absolutely would not! I’d give up wild nights, boozing and grooving just for the smile that my daughter greets me with every morning.
So what defines me now?
I am still me.
At the heart of it all, I am not defined by any of these things. I am still the person I always was. I’m still here. I’m still myself. I’m just a bunch of other things too.