There are moments in my day when I realize that I don’t know who I am anymore. I’m sure it’s because my children are aging. Perhaps it’s because I’m a bit older myself. Either way, things have changed and I need to figure out how to make sense of it all. Or maybe I don’t.
I Don’t Know Who I Am
I wouldn’t say that Alice in Wonderland is my favorite Disney movie. Not by a longshot. Not even in my top ten. However, I have a quote or two from the film on my laptop and I always toy with getting a tattoo from the flick because I find the writing so profound.
A little girl lost. A little girl so very sure of herself until she isn’t. A little girl innocent until she learns enough to stand on her own two feet – until she grows up too fast. Until she shrinks down too small. Until she can’t quite figure out her place. Until she gets turned around and found. Until she gets tricked and helped. Until she doesn’t even realize if any of it happened at all.
But there’s a particular scene in Alice in Wonderland that I absolutely love and I’ve loved it ever since I was a little girl myself. The one with the caterpillar. The one where he questions Alice and her intentions.
Who are you?
What a question. Who. Are. You.
And Alice thinks she knows. She really does. In fact, she is so certain of it until she has to answer.
But when Alice tried to explain, she realized that her words no longer make sense in the strange, new world because that new world had new rules. And the new rules were binding which meant everything she once knew was now wrong.
I don’t know who I am anymore because I live in a new world with new rules. I was a mom with three little kids who each needed everything from me. Every cell, every minute, every ounce of my attention.
Nowadays, my ship runs much smoother. Not a problem. It’s just a fact.
I don’t know who I am anymore because my job needed certain things of me in the past and now the industry has moved onto younger versions which is fine – I’m not bitter. But new rules take time to absorb.
I don’t know who I am anymore because as I age things just change. New wants. New hopes. New desires. New aspirations. New dreams. New hobbies.
Do I have time for them all? What would they all taste like if I tried them all on my plate? Is this all for now? I’m not so sure? It’s almost as if I am meeting myself for the very first time and I don’t want to get it wrong.
Do you know who I am? That would make this so much easier.
I mean… I know who I am in some small way. The underbelly of it all. The 16-year old version of me still exists inside this shell. The girl I’ve been protecting. She is still there and she doesn’t care about anything that’s happened over the last 20 years.
She still likes ramen and black tea and horror movies and late nights and hard candy. She still likes to laugh and bowl and tell dirty jokes and travel like crazy. That chick is still hanging around.
But this new girl… grown-up me? She’s … different. She’s … tired. She’s confused. She’s searching.
She’s looking for a rope or a light or an answer key. Do they give out answer keys to people in their 40s? That would be super cool. Someone should start that.
The truth of the matter is … she just wants to sleep for a little bit. She wants to lay on the couch and pick up a crossword puzzle and just do absolutely nothing. But in 2020 – the year of the side hustle – it doesn’t seem like that fits into frame. Perhaps, going against the grain on this one will be good for the soul.
And it is very much against the grain because in the past, I would want to juggle 12 balls at once and be very happy doing it. Today, I just want to watch nature shows and go to bed at 8:30. Does that make me wrong? If it makes me wrong… I’m not so sure I want to be right.
I think that’s where the conflict is for me. I am confused by who I am meeting. She isn’t who I expected. She is too lax.
So, today I can’t really say I know who I am anymore because I can’t process the transformation.
I recognize I am in the middle of a moment. I am in the in-between. I’m not in the before and I’m not in the after. It feels like my NOW is pretty clouded.
My pencil needs sharpening. That’s all, right? Is that it? Or am I just settling in?
Maybe today is a clean slate. If I don’t know who I am perhaps that means that I can become anything I want?
What do I want? To be happy. To have purpose. To have joy. To have love.
How can I translate that into a career that intrinsically fills me whole? How can I stop feeling so lost? How can I start to want again? When will I start feeling like me again? Who am I?
That’s the question. That’s the question I’ve been asking since first meeting this silly, little caterpillar.
Is wanting enough? Is wanting, by definition a sense of purpose? Or am I getting everything mixed up? Perhaps I’ve reached a state of contentment. Maybe I just got to a point in my life where I don’t need what society is throwing at me anymore. Maybe being on the couch with my husband in my pjs feels like a great night in because it is? And it feels really odd to me because I am being told that I need to DO MORE BE MORE WANT MORE.
And maybe I’m just tired of always being tired. Maybe I just want to sit on the couch. Maybe I just want to watch tv with my kids for a little bit at home.
I don’t know who I am because my whole life I’ve been chasing and now I’m starting to just live in the quiet moments and the silence is deafening. My mind races because that’s how I was born. But you can only run on steam for so long.
Who Am I?
One thing is clear – I’m more than I was yesterday and I deserve some peace.