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Who The Hell Do You Think You Are?

If you were a teenager in 1985 it’s likely you could have recited just about every line from John Hughes’ hit film The Breakfast Club. When Mr. Vernon asked the group to write an essay on ‘Who They Think They Are’ Brian, the Brain, sat back in his chair and asked himself aloud, “Who are you? Who are you?” 

The impact of watching that scene about four hundred times as a kid doesn’t hold a candle to the impact it has on me now. It’s ironic how the older I get, the harder the question becomes to answer.

Not knowing who we are or what we want to be when we grow up is okay when we’re young; it’s socially acceptable to be the one to say, “I’m still finding myself.”

But then we find ourselves in college; studying to become something. I remember my Dad telling me when I was a little girl, “Go to college and become something. It doesn’t matter what that something is but when you graduate you should be able to finish this sentence: I went to college and now I am a ____________.”

So we go to school. We study. We graduate with high marks and start a career. Our work helps to shape us. We identify with the people in our [professional] circles and it becomes a bit clearer who we are.

Then we get married. Have kids. Now we’re more focused on romper room than what’s happening in the boardroom and our identity naturally shifts; except we’re too busy changing diapers, making lunches and driving carpool to even notice.

Until we do.

And here’s where things get sticky. Our kids suddenly need us a little less and we suddenly realize we need to have a little more.

Over the last several years (yup, years) I’ve found myself at this exact crossroad. Swallowing the Turning Forty Pill (fine, forty-three) while trying to address the seemingly straightforward question of Who Am I? has just added insult to injury. Timing’s a bitch, huh?

So, is my identity in crisis? I think it is since asking the question Who Am I? makes me panic. I actually keep a bottle of Benadryl handy in case I break out in hives. My identity must be in crisis mode because there are moments I don’t know who the hell I am other than somebody’s wife and mother. I want my identity to be measured by more. I need my identity to be measured by more.

Let’s be clear. Yes, it’s a financial luxury to stay at home and play house; but for some it can cost us our identity and that’s a hefty price to pay. Ya think?

So after feeling as if a piece of ourselves has been left on the sidelines of life [outside the home] how do we find ourselves again? How do we get back in the game and unmute the voice once heard? How do we find the balance between being Mom but being more?

Guess what? I don’t have all the answers but taking tennis lessons or playing mahjong is not quite the answer I’m looking for. Lunching with friends on Thursdays is not the answer either. C’mon, think! Stella can’t be the only woman who gets to get her groove back!

This time I don’t have a long, drawn out story with a beginning, middle and end illustrating how to fix something that’s broken or a snarky list cataloging my [least] favorite people, places or things! This time I’m asking the questions with the hope others can help shed some light.

If we as individuals are supposed to be ever-evolving into better versions of ourselves does it make Who Am I? a trick question?

By what measure(s) do you define yourself?  

How many of us really know who we are?  

While there are days I don’t have a clue who I am relative to the world which exists outside the four walls of my home, I do know I’ll never give up trying to figure it out. 

As the credits roll at the end of the movie, we hear Brian’s voice reading the letter he wrote on behalf of the Breakfast Club. He says, “You see us as you want to see us in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions.”

I think who we are as defined by other people is the easy part. Figuring out who we are as defined by ourselves…. well that’s the more difficult question to answer!


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