05 June 2010

Losing Myself

I started thinking the other day about who I am. I know all the labels people can put on me: I was a daughter (both of my parents are now dead, so I am a parent-less daughter now), a sister, an aunt, a mother, a wife etc. Those are words that describe me, but they don't define me. I don't want to be defined by labels or categories or boxes that others can put me in.

I started thinking back to my youth and what I wanted to "be". When I was growing up, kids were always striving to "be" something. It wasn't enough to just be a kid or a teen, it was all about what you were going to "be" when you grew up. I remember wanting to be a model. What girl didn't want to be a model in the early 80's, the heyday of supermodel-ism? Although I have (had) a pretty face, I knew my Irish "potato pickers" legs would never get me a cover shoot, so I moved on to wanting to be an actress. I was in some school plays, and I was pretty interested in the acting thing for while, but reality set in (and lack of encouragement from my parents) brought me back to reality. By junior year of high school I was thinking about being a photographer. (I am sensing a theme here; I think I wanted a career with excitement and adventure.) My grades weren't great, I hated school, so my parents weren't willing to help me pay for photography school. (I wanted to go to Columbia, in Chicago, I could have lived at home and commuted to cut costs, but that's a whole other story). Suffice it to say, none of those dreams ever panned out. I considered becoming a paralegal at one point, but again, no money for school, and with my grades, no scholarships were forthcoming.

So I went to work. I had been working since age 14, various jobs, fast food, a laundromat, cleaning offices, finally retail. But after I graduated high school, I needed full time employment as I wanted to get of my parents house. (Another long story for another time).

So working full time, paying for an apartment and car, finally meeting a man, moving in with him and getting pregnant, then married, then I wake up one day at 42 and realize I lost myself.

I'm not unhappy with how my life turned out, I love my husband, I love my daughters. I have been happy being a mom, and I have learned a lot about myself, what my strengths (and weaknesses) are through being a wife and mother. But now that my girls are getting a little older, and I too am getting older, I have been thinking about the rest of my life. Is it too late to re-visit those old dreams? Do I even want to do those things anymore? Who am I outside of the wife and mother role? I still wonder what I want to be when I grow up.

Some days I am content to putter around the house and just continue on with the status quo, other days I feel like I was meant for so much more, that I should be contributing to the world in a more meaningful way. I just don't know what that is yet. I wish I could sit on a mountain for a while, and maybe the gods would speak to me and point me in the right direction. (Although in reality, I'd much prefer to sit under a palm tree and stare at the ocean for a while).

I think I may be going through a mid-life crisis. Although crisis isn't really the right word. It's soul searching. Searching for meaning in my life and in this crazy world we live in. If I find it I'll let you know.

There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
~Anaïs Nin


Stephanie said...

Thanks for sharing and I'm glad to see a blog post by you, I've missed them :)

Donna said...

I've missed blogging. It's been hard to find the time! Not planning to let another 3 months go by before I blog again, that's for sure : )

Colleen said...

One thing you can learn from your past is to not shatter your children's dreams. My parents did the same thing to me. Were never encouraging me to follow my dreams. They wanted me to do something practical. Now when my son says he wants to be a comic book artist, I hand him paper and pencils and encourage him to pursue his dream.