This I Believe

Catherine - Virginia Beach, Virginia
Entered on December 4, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I Gotta Be Me

I believe you have to be yourself no matter what anyone else thinks or says. In order to discover my authentic self, I’ve employed a measure of courage that I didn’t know existed in me – courage to take risks and follow my heart.

I’ve worn a variety of hats from daughter, wife and mother, to employee, volunteer and student. I’ve had hats forced on me that didn’t fit. I’ve tried to wear multiple hats at once. One day, as I donned the “chapeau du moment,” I had an identity crisis. I looked in a mirror and saw my mother staring back at me. I looked, dressed, acted, and sounded like her. I had become a clone. Over the years the zenith of my distinctiveness had eroded into homogeny. It was an epiphany.

I was thirty-nine and had gone back to college to earn an accounting degree. While sitting in class one evening, it dawned on me that I hated accounting. That realization sparked questions that popped up like whack-a-moles. If I hated accounting, then what did I like? If I didn’t know, how could I find out? I knew in my heart that if I didn’t discover my true self then I was doomed to a life of desperate mediocrity, trapped inside a shadowy dungeon of self-denial, perpetual people pleasing, and endless days of mere existence in servitude to a false god.

My life had been an exercise in molding myself into the mélange of characteristics others needed, demanded or wanted. I was the dutiful daughter, striving student, supportive wife, loyal employee, helpful church member, faithful friend and SuperMom who, ultimately, had no concept of my own being.

I tried all sorts of different things from arts and crafts to athletics in an attempt to realize my own uniqueness. I learned that I prefer reading and writing to crunching numbers. I have an aptitude for teaching others and, as a result, I changed my college major to English with an emphasis in teaching. I don’t like business suits or high heels so I gave them away. I like lots of color and painted my kitchen Post-It note yellow. I have nine pairs of hi-top sneakers in various colors and patterns, which, I delight in wearing at inappropriate times like with a skirt in church. I got a funky flower tattooed on my foot.

Learning these things about myself has prompted me to ask, what is my dream, my wish, for my life? I don’t walk this path alone. I rely heavily on my faith in God to reveal who I really am. I believe that I am becoming the woman I was created to be and best of all; I think she’s a pretty remarkable person.