When asked to write about identity, my natural inclination was to ask myself the question – who am I?
I reflect on my childhood, and the tiny town where I grew up, a bookworm and painfully shy little girl until my teenaged years when I realized if I was ever going to get anywhere in life I needed to learn to talk to people.
I mostly outgrew my shyness, although walking into a roomful of strangers still sends me to the corner looking for a safe person.
Throughout life, I’ve moved around, from that tiny town to a small city where I was more comfortable in my skin than I’d ever been in my hometown. Later, I’d move with my family to another country on a new continent, where I forged friendships with people from around the globe. There is nothing like plunging yourself headfirst into another culture to make you contemplate who you really are, to reflect, and to redefine your values.
I think about the words others would use to identify me: a daughter, a wife, a mother, an employee, a runner, an avid reader, a writer, and a friend.
In each of these life roles, it occurs to me, I differ a little. Which one is the real me? All of them – they are all me. I fit myself into these roles as required, as we all do in life, but in none of them do I feel disingenuous and I guess that’s how I know I am being me.
The core of me is still that shy little girl, but my identity is fluid, shifting and growing through life experience. Ever changing. Like a tree that sprouts new limbs and leaves in its life cycle, so do we grow as people. Sometimes, branches die off and are discarded along the way as a necessary component of growth, but the tree continues to flourish. Always.