Who are YOU?

Don’t do drugs, kids

 `Who are YOU?’ said the Caterpillar.

This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, `I–I hardly know, sir, just at present– at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.’

`What do you mean by that?’ said the Caterpillar sternly. `Explain yourself!’

`I can’t explain MYSELF, I’m afraid, sir’ said Alice, `because I’m not myself, you see.’
                                    -Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Who are you?  A very good question, indeed.  And, like Alice, not one that is so easily answered.  I would have thought that by my mid-thirties, I would know the answer to this question, but I’ve yet to figure it out.  If anything, I’ve only added more roles.  Daughter, sister, student, teacher, girlfriend, wife, daughter-in-law, mother, serf, librarian, mental health patient, etc.  It doesn’t help when you’re being questioned by a rude, smoking caterpillar.  I hate those guys.

I could answer by name, but even that’s not clear, as I have more than one last name.  Would you like my maiden name or my married name?  I remember receiving a letter from the Social Security Office just after my wedding demanding that I change my card because my former self no longer existed.  It actually said that.  The old, pre-married me had ceased to exist, and now I was known only by the name of the goofball I’d just married.  Curiouser and curiouser.

An identity stolen by thousands in Las Vegas alone

When do we form identity?  Do we ever actually form our own identities?  When my eldest daughter was born, the old Social Security Office was after us again.  Where was her SS number?  Obviously children are supposed to be born with this nine digit number tatooed on their foreheads.  So we quickly labeled our daughter with a number so she could be like the others in the hive.  But these numbers are hardly secure identifiers, as they can be stolen.  Identity theft is very prominent these days. Yes, it’s not just the government that takes your identity, it’s Joe Smoe off the street who wants to buy 3,000 issues of Hustler and a burrito with your credit card.

All our lives, we struggle with this.  How do we fit in our families?  Are you the golden child or the black sheep, the baby or the eldest or the dreaded middle child?  Did your sister get called the pretty one while you got the “nice personality” consolation prize?  What about when you left the security of home for school?  Were you a cheerleader or a football player, or were you a member of the chess team?  And there’s work, too.  Once again, are you the cheerleader, the smart one, the black sheep, or do you have that good old “nice personality”?  Who are YOU?

It’s even more complicated after you marry and start your own family.  Now you’ve got relationships in your first family (you are ALWAYS a kid to your parents, accept it), and in your second (sometimes I wish the word Mommy had never been invented).  If you divorce, you get even more relationships and identities.  A world of fun!  Not to mention an adventure at Christmas time.

Yet with all these relationships, all these roles, with everything else removed, there is you.  Who are YOU, and YOU alone?  Do you like yourself?  Do you want more from your life?  Are you satisfied with where you are, with how you feel when you are all alone (if you ever get that lucky chance).  It’s something many of us don’t ask until it’s almost too late, and we realize we’ve lived only for these other roles, and never for our own.  I don’t want that to happen to me.

How’s about a girl’s night out where we LIVE???


So who am I?  I don’t know yet.  But I’m finding out.  It’s a journey, and one that I can only hope involves girlfriends and road trips – though not of the Thelma and Louise type.

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