So how do we define ourselves? I posted that question when I started this blog. I asked if it was by our roles, our relationships, our work… I didn’t get many responses and I can see why – that’s not exactly an easy answer! Sounds like it ought to be the topic of a term paper. So I think its only fair to muse a bit on this myself…
When I was a child, of course it was by relationship. I was a daughter. An extension of my mother and father and my wonderful extended family. I was also an avid reader and writer from the first day I learned to sound out my phonics. Later I became a friend, a wife, a mother, and a Christian. And those relational definitions of myself satisfied me for many years. But then depression crept in like a cold dark fog, and with it a long, long search for my own identity. I wanted a definition of myself created by myself, not one that I had blindly accepted from my culture. I began to feel that those roles did not define me…they described me.
So then I went through a phase of believing you are what you do. I mean I really did believe that. I went back to school , pregnant with my second child, and I was also a student. And that satisfied me for a while. I felt a lot better about myself, because I am an intelligent person and I liked that label. I defined myself as a learner. I also had to read and write a lot, which was what I’d had a passion for from the age of six.
But sooner or later, I had to graduate. And off I went into my occupation, degree in hand, a “professional”. Now I know who I am, I thought. When the buzz died I continued, and continue, to take more postgraduate training. And I still get that buzz from learning. The only thing is….I’ve also learned that my occupation does not define me either. I am not what I do. True, the occupation I’ve chosen says some things about the kind of person I am, but it doesn’t define me.
All I know for sure is that I am a wife, a mother, a friend, a therapist, a learner, a writer, an artist, a soul searcher, and a Christian. But none of those define me. How can they? Isn’t the human soul greater than the sum of its parts?