I would like to get to know myself.
I know what you may be thinking: you are you every single day, so how do you not know yourself already?
This is both a simple and a complicated question to answer.
Simply put, I know who I am. I know what I want out of this life. I know the things I love, and I know the things I dislike. I know my faults, my mistakes, and my regrets; I am learning my strengths, my goals, my faith, and the structure of who I want to be. I understand the ways I wish to change; I am learning the ways I can achieve this.
More complicated: For years, I have always worried about what others thought. Not necessarily what they thought about me, but what they thought in general. What is important to them? Should that be important to me, too? Do I have to like the things they like, care for the things they care for? I was always bogged down by ways to impress others and caught up in people for the wrong reasons. I looked for who I should be and how I should act in ex-boyfriends, old friends, boyfriends’ past loves, my heroes, my enemies, and more people than I need to name.
Let me be clear on one thing: I am not a “weak” person, so to speak. I have a strong personality, a lot of spirit, and a loud mouth. I know what I think and I am not afraid to say it. I am emotional through the way I care for or about things (sometimes too emotional). I have faith in my friends and my family. Sometimes, I even have an immeasurable amount of faith in myself. I wish I had more faith spiritually (this is something I am working on). Despite my strengths, I am still overly-influenceable. I have found myself time and again altering the things I like or suddenly liking different things because others liked them. In my 24 years, there are a few things I have found passion for that are all my own (yoga, reading, music, and being a mother and wife, as examples), but there are countless things that I like (even find myself saying I love) because other people liked them first and introduced me. There would be nothing wrong with me liking this things after discovering them (even if through a different person), but liking them just because someone else does isn’t the way to go about things. There is nothing more I can do but to look back at the times I have caught myself doing this and laugh. Of course, at the time, I never knew I was doing these things for someone else (hard to believe, right?). The teenage (and young adult) mind is a very moldable thing, but I truly believe I found a liking for these things because I had “discovered” them through people I loved. In high school, I even went so far as to go to a church I couldn’t stand (two churches, in fact) because my boyfriend at the time went to one, and a friend at the time went to the other. (Growing up in North Carolina, going to church was actually a trendy thing, and I know so many people who have faith or identify as a certain religion because their friends liked going to church, not because it personally resonated with them.) These churches I went to weren’t even a religion close to mine–I grew up Catholic (though I always found Catholicism hard to connect to), and these were Southern Baptist churches (where being black is a crime and being gay is an abominable sin)–yet I would force myself to connect if it meant being popular or being “happy.” (Little did I know, I wasn’t truly happy. This would come later.)
Recently, I gave birth (an awful, traumatic experience), and while I struggled through 30+ hours of labor, an emergency c-section, and a follow-up of over 6 weeks of painful recovery, followed by a MRSA infection and the flu (which cycled through my whole family), I recovered, and I have recovered as, quite possibly, an altogether different person. There is something to be said for the moment you look into your daughter’s eyes and know that, in all aspects of the phrase, everything has changed. This particular aspect of new parenthood hit me hard, and it has hit me hard for weeks now. Many people say that being a parent makes life difficult, days long, nights unbearable, and patience thin. I have found myself experiencing quite the opposite. I won’t go so far as to say that we don’t have bad days (we do) or that I have had some magical life-altering experience (I mean, I have, but that’s what happens when you become a mom), but something about being a parent has made me feel that things are more freeing. Life has more possibilities. Through recent yoga practice and meditation, I am starting to feel as though I have finally reached a place in my life where I can find out who I am and be exactly who I want to be.
I want to read more. I want to practice my yoga more devoutly. I want to understand God, and I want to work on my spirituality. (That being said, I don’t think I could find a particular religion that could cover the full basis of that I believe or what I am capable of believing, so I am working on finding the parts of various faiths and religions that do resonate with me. It’s a start.) I want to work on my meditation, and through this, I want to understand the parts of the world that are important to me. I want to better know my strengths and believe in myself. I want to stop doing things for show (this is the most important part). I want to be the kind of mom and wife that I would be proud to know, and I want to do this with selfless, forgiving love. Most importantly, I want to get to know ME.
This may take some time, but there is no time like the present, right?