What am I?  Who am I?  What and who am I supposed to be?

This has been my question for well over a decade, perhaps a decade and a half.  I’ve made mention several times of how I gave up what I loved and wanted to be.  Not to beat a dead horse, so to speak, but I think I am still well on the quest of figuring it out – or at least making up my mind.

I think that one of my struggles with going to the doctor for a follow-up is that I’ve always noticed that when terminally ill people go to the doctor, it always seems downhill from there.  I was lucky enough to come through it all well and thriving, but I notice, sadly, with many others that’s not the case.  I’ve noticed that once you’ve been diagnosed with whatever and given a prognosis, many people give in to the doctor’s expectation of not making it for long after that.  I know it’s a morbid subject, but I find it relevant on so many levels.  Our Minister gave a great example of this recently, mentioning that once we get that diagnosis, we identify with the illness and make it who we are.

I don’t want to identify with the illness.  I don’t want that to be who I am.  I want to keep everything as it’s been, I was cured and there is nothing left to say about it.

Perhaps ignorance really is bliss.

I’m afraid to be shaken.  I am scared that I can’t do it again.  I am fearful should test results and exams not turn out well, that I won’t have the drive or strength to come through it all again.  That’s why I don’t go back to the doctor.  I really do know I’m alright, but I don’t want to take the chance of having some diagnosis and prognosis dangling in front of me to take the bait and make it who I am…again.

But this isn’t about my prior illness or doctor’s appointments.  This is about my identity and who I am becoming.  This is about who I am choosing to be.

I admit that I am so highly over-sensitive to other people’s opinions of me; of what I should be doing; of who I should or shouldn’t be.  That’s all a part of the people-pleaser in me.  But I can’t be a people-pleaser.  I cannot live my life by other peoples’ standards.  How can I do what I’m supposed to do in the world if I base my entire life off of others’ opinions and suggestions?  I understand that people only want what they perceive as best for me – but only I can know what’s best for me.

I’ve found that I’ve quickly dismissed that creative part of me that I was working so hard at tapping into.  I’ve stopped painting, I’ve stopped writing, I’ve stopped making progress in my photography business.  All, and only, because I’m afraid that it’s not good enough and that others will have opinions of what I’m doing.

“Learn to tune out.  If you listen to too much advice you may wind up making other people’s mistakes.”

-Ann Landers

I was thinking on the drive home from work the other day about parents molding their children’s lives.  Many say that I am not strict enough, not hard enough, with my kids.  I’m told I let them get away with far too much and don’t teach them enough responsibility.  Many say that they need to be supervised more and that I don’t pay enough attention.  Granted, I admit that I’ve not been the best parent – what parent really is?  But, on that drive home, I thought about how not only am I expected to tell my kids how to do it all, I’ve got people telling me how to tell them how to do it all.

What identity can I expect my children to have if I give them a playbook to live by?  Yes, I need to help them learn strategies of good decision-making and hope, even while they’re still at home, that they make the best decision – but I can’t tell them what the best decision is, I can only help them decide that for themselves.  Yes, I need to keep them safe, but the rest is up to them.

A few weeks ago, I was having a conversation with my oldest daughter as she was exiting a career fair at her school.  She expressed interest in attending a school for art, but I saw her quickly slinking away from the idea and interject something else that could be viewed as more “practical”.  Of course I am biased toward the art thing at this point, but I told her that if she wants to go for art, she needs to do it.  I told her that she needs to follow her dreams and be who and what she wants to be.

Even in my mid-thirties, I am still hammered with what other people think I should or shouldn’t do, who I should or shouldn’t be, or how I should or shouldn’t do anything and everything.  I demonstrated to my daughter how important it is to not get caught up on everyone else’s advice.

Each and every one of us has purpose that needs to express itself.

What am I doing to express my purpose?  What am I doing to be who I am supposed to be?  Even after my bold statement of who I’m going to be, I still find myself timid and somewhat afraid to branch out.  I find myself scared to identify myself with what it is that makes me happy.  And in doing so, I’ve found myself falling into my withdrawing habits.  I find myself just wanting to shut out everything and everyone.  I find myself just wanting to block out the world and stay safe here in room, in my bed, where I know nothing can hurt me.

I have the determination, I have the desire, I want to be who and what I want to be.  But I need to give myself permission.  I need to remind myself that it’s okay to be who I want to be, and dammit, I am good enough.  Just as my children need to live their life in order to have the experience they are meant to have, I need to do the same for myself.  It’s seems rather odd that I find myself being more flexible with my kids than with myself.

I need to do it my way.  I need to be who I truly am and who I truly want to be.  I need to claim my identity that’s waiting there on the shelf collecting dust.  I’m not having an identity crisis, I just need be me.