This week’s meditation has been all about how you define yourself; the way we are brought up to define ourself by our possessions and appearance, our careers and financial prosperity. Only later, if ever, do we work out to define ourselves less materialistically and externally.
I’ve been ruminating on this all week. Looking at my past, my mother rarely voiced her opinion in order to not cause a fuss with my father. We all pretty much had to do what we were told. Family discussion were had, but only to agree that my father’s proposal was the right one. Dissent was not allowed and while my sister rebelled in their own way I just got more and more quiet. My identity got subsumed in a desire for peace and a fear of argument.
This carried on in my adult life with both ex1 and ex2 ruling my life far more than was healthy.
This also explains why, at various stages of my life I used to dream about an imaginary home. I can picture three fully designed flats and houses that I dreamed of living in, that expressed where I wanted to be and how I wanted to live. I think, in some ways, this was my first attempt to really express who I was, even if it was inside my head.
Over the last ten years I’ve done many things to state an identity, without really understanding why. Creating an online presence at first was quite scary. What if no-one had friended me on Facebook? It sounds silly but it worried me. Now I’m on Facebook throwing out people I don’t know to keep it manageable; I’m on multiple Twitter accounts and I’ve even given in and have a LinkedIn profile, even though I do little more than respond to people’s requests. I blog both here anonymously and in real life as well, although the latter is far more sporadic. I catalogue my books in public and I’ve always felt my books speak volumes (sic!) about my personality.
When I first moved here I joined lots of groups. Listing them reflects my interests. Membership of them felt like approval of who I am. I had to learn to say no.
Learning that I am me regardless of how I present myself, what I say about myself, what membership cards I can present, or what anyone else thinks is actually quite hard to do.
Dances with Fat wrote about this topic this week and said, most wonderfully, that
…we are the only person in charge of how we feel about ourselves and that, as such, we can decide that we are intrinsically amazing and that there is nothing that will ever change that
This I like very much. I’ve craved parental approval, rejected peer approval as a teenager, assumed disapproval from people who never got a chance to know me, and tried to stick two fingers up at everyone in a reverse approval move.
The reality is, when I think about it, which in itself is too rare, that I’m bloody amazing. It’s not about whether I’m a good parent, work hard, spend time with friends, am nice to strangers, fit into whatever’s needed. That’s not what defines me.
If I strip away the external definitions, my body, my mind and think about what’s left, I see some sort of spinning core that has rock hard determination and id. This essential core gave me the strength to give up smoking. More importantly, it’s kept me going through life at time when I’ve really wondered why I bother.
My inner core tells me, when I let it, that I am an amazing person, that I can do anything I choose to do. I don’t listen to it/me enough saying that. I need to. The more I believe I’m amazing, the more amazing I am. It’s positive feedback like no other.
I somehow don’t feel that I’ve said this at all well.