What defines our sense of self? At what age do we figure out exactly who we are?
At age 25, I thought I knew who I was. Then I went through a couple of "existential" years. Without getting into details, I'll just say they were dark years, full of questioning. Then, during my darkest hour, my mother took her own life. From that moment, my life completely transformed.
I moved to New Hampshire and decided to be me; unabashedly, no-holds-bar. I danced, laughed, cracked inappropriate jokes, had no shame in public, cried when I needed to, spoke my opinions loudly, dressed however I wanted (Even in my "fuck you you fucking fuck" shirt), and loved deeply. I also made and kept the best friends of my life, landed the greatest job I'd ever worked, met and fell in love with the man who would become my husband and the father of my child, and got my life together. By age 29, I was literally the happiest I had ever been. All of this as a result of being my true self. Then, during my brightest hour, my husband got killed in an accident. Again, a transformation.
This time, however, I changed myself in a way I never had. I was labeled the "pregnant widow" and I played the part. For the first time in my life I cared what others thought of me. I felt my sense of humor was actually inappropriate, and became very serious. I dressed more modestly. I stopped dancing. I felt the need to be polite and not rock the boat. I withdrew into myself and became paranoid about what people were thinking of me. I allowed the opinions of others to make me doubt myself and my truth. I got angry.
Now, 3 months after the birth of my amazing child, I am beginning to feel different again. I am ready to be myself fully. This time, however, I intend to find a sense of balance. Being a mother has permanently changed my vision for the future. My son's life is most important now. I have to take care of myself in order to be a good mother though. I have to embrace who I am and not pay attention to other's opinions of me, with the exception of my loved ones. I have to laugh out loud and dress the way I want. I have to keep my outrageous sense of humor, but maybe have some tact in public places. I have to speak my mind, but also listen to others when they speak theirs. I absolutely have to dance!
So who am I? I am a mother, a friend, a sister, an aunt, a daughter, a widow, a cousin...but none of these terms define me. I am ever-changing and evolving. I am definitely strong and resilient. I am ready to be me again...whatever that is in the moment.