Have any of you asked yourselves that question? I am sure you have, who hasn’t? It seems like a question for the ages, right?
As a teenager we want to become someone. Be it a rebel or a scholar, we set out to establish an identity. Waking up in the morning putting on an outfit that we picked out all by ourselves, or so we think. But truly that shirt is basically the same as every other girl, just a different shade or pattern. My daughter asked me if she could get her nose or belly button pierced and what could I say? I tend to lean towards being yourself and expressing that in whatever way feels right. I also feel that we need to conform somewhat to societal “norms” when we enter the real world after college, so the best years to experiment with your look is high school and college.
Then in our 20’s and 30’s we continue to struggle. We are finally out of the high school world where we are judged for who we hang out with or date or what sport we play, so we should really get to shine and be ourselves, right? Wrong! What time is worse for a woman? Everyone is putting expectations on you. Are you a career woman, or going to be a mom, are you getting married soon, it looks like your metabolism is slowing down, who made your shoes or your bag? These questions fly at us constantly and we feed into it. Media does not help, bringing luxury to the masses. Brands once reserved for the rich and famous have stores popping up in small town malls. Instagram is basically a walking billboard of how great you look and who you are wearing and how “artsy” you can look while wearing it.
And then bam, 40 hits and we feel the pressure to conform even more. Only now it is time to keep up with the Jonses. Are you living in the “right” neighborhood, are your kids going to the “right” school? Do you wear yoga pants to yoga (or like me) because they are comfortable?
Fifty comes along and we have to decide between “gracefully aging” or hitting up the medical spa & trying to look like we are still 40 without looking like we have pulled all of our skin to the back of our heads and pumped our lips up with a bike tire pump. We are faced with retirement on the horizon, did you save enough, plan enough? Were you satisfied in your career? Are your babies having babies and now you are a grandma? What does a grandma look like to you? All of a sudden you are wearing normal clothes and feeling pretty damn good and someone says “grandma” and you picture an old lady baking cookies. We start to experience losses that profoundly affect us, friends and parents may start passing away and we are left asking ourselves again; who am I without this person?
Retirement seems like the time when someone can finally be who they want and let all pretenses go. My father recently retired and I feel like the man I see now is the man he always was, just that now he can be that person without the weight of the world on him. Sure, he never complained or just up and quit and opened a fruit stand in Belize, but he definitely seemed so much more distant in my younger years and this just shows how in our struggle to make it through our lives we often lose some of that life.
When my daughter looks down at her new belly button piercing and sees her first real attempt at social rebellion, self-expression, and “semi”-permanent body modification, will she hold onto that feeling of individualism forever or for a moment until the newest thing comes along. I hope that I can teach her that she is enough just being her, that she doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone (including me) but herself. But I know, I too, am flawed and I struggle with this as much, if not more than the next woman.
In a recent group that we tried to make work despite Mother Nature’s very clear warning that we should not have any extra-curricular activities this past January, we started reading a book that was meant to be a journey of self-expression and discovery through journalling prompts. I started reading it and stopped after Chapter 1 because I didn’t want to just read it, I wanted to dive into and really see what happens. Just in Chapter 1, the author was addressing who we are and if we ever really know because we are just reflections of who our parents raised.
When do you feel most yourself? When you are participating in your favorite hobby? When you are meditating, doing yoga? Do you feel you truly know yourself or do you get dragged into the image the world wants us to be? I would love to read this book as part of a group and find out. I hope you all will join me!
“Writing to Awaken – A Journey of Truth, Transformation & Self Discovery”
Available at Apotheke Wellness for $18.95
Look for a book club to start where we will go through this book and participate in the different journaling prompts. Follow our Events page for more information.