I remember making a diagram describing me once. I think it was one of those classes where you identify your ideal career based on your interests and personality type. Anyway, I had to make this diagram where my name was in the middle of the page, and then surround it with words that I would use to identify myself and my hobbies.
Daughter; Student; Music; Backstreet Boys
You know, the usual.
I remember feeling like I had a pretty good grasp on who I was. What I liked. My strengths. My Weaknesses.
I was lucky enough to study what I loved and I followed my passions throughout my college career. Then I got married, landed an office job, had a baby…and completely lost myself. For awhile I didn’t even notice. I was so busy playing the role of sleep-deprived mom that everything that wasn’t laundry, dishes, feeding times, and sleep schedules took a back seat. It’s a pretty common phenomenon, apparently.
Things that I had literally done my entire life were no longer a part of my life at all. Reading, for instance. I used to read novels at break-neck speed. Lots of them. Ever since I could read. This isn’t to say that I didn’t embrace motherhood, because it is the best thing that I have ever done. It’s on the top of my list of accomplishments. But it doesn’t solely describe who I am.
And then one day about two years ago I was talking to my sister on the phone when it dawned on me that I was in the middle of a huge, massive identity crises. I’m actually kind of surprised that it wasn’t until after I had my second baby (5 years into parenthood) that I finally recognized what had happened to me.
At first I thought I’d just start reading again, since that one was kind of obvious. You know, just take some time for myself where I’m not serving everyone else. But it didn’t magically restore any memories of my former self.
And besides, I’d changed in that time! I had been turned into a mom. Suddenly I cared about GMO’s in my kid’s cereal, and breastfeeding, and the fashion trends of toddler clothing.Those things were NOT on the list when I was in college. Long gone were the days when I traveled with groups of college kids to campaign for total strangers, or visit cities with student councils to explore art, or when posters of attractive young men were plastered to every surface of my bedroom wall.
This was serious!
And so, I took serious action.
Step 1: Make a List.
It probably sounds so basic and absurd, but I was feeling so overwhelmed during this time that I finally decided to revisit the college diagram of myself. And you know what? It helped. It didn’t magically solve the fact that I had neglected myself for years, but it was a great first step. By identifying what was important to me, I was able to start focusing on myself again and making time for what makes me, me. As the months rolled by I became more in tune with myself and my wants, needs, and passions.
Write down everything that makes you who you are. It doesn’t matter what it is. It might feel really silly at first and you’ll most likely become stumped after your first few words, but as you think about it and really do some soul searching, that list will grow and become less superficial, and more you.
Step 2: Make Goals.
Now that you’ve defined who you are, who do you want to be? What do you want to do? Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10?
Write it all down, you know, so you don’t forget…again. Do you want to learn to play an instrument? Do you want to learn a new language? Learn to garden? Take a college course? What do you want to do with your future? Make a list of goals of things that you want to do.
Step 3: Action!
This is the fun part! You’ve mapped out you and now you get to kiss your identity crisis to the curb and embrace life! First start with the list, then tackle your new goals. Spend some time on your long-neglected hobbies. This alone will make you forget that you were ever lost at all. Then take steps to meet some of those goals!
Good luck! Leave me a comment and let me know how you’ve overcome an identity crisis.