Who are you?
Who are you? Three words. A seemingly simple question, which should be easy to answer. Then why am I unable to answer it?
This question doesn’t always appear in this form. It has many faces: What is your name? What do you do for a living? Do you have any family? What are your interests? While not as daunting and brazen as asking more directly, all of these questions probe into our lives and paint a picture of us, revealing the pieces of our life which come together to make us whole. We are defined by what we do, how we live and how we present ourselves to the world.
So, again: who am I?
The truth is that I do not know. There is no simple answer, and that is true for many of us.
From the moment we give birth – actually, from the moment we see those two lines, we are changed. We enter a whole new phase of life, one that tries to categorise us at every corner – petite in pregnancy or ballooning? Crunchy mum or silky mama? Natural or drugs? While these guileless questions give others an insight into who we are and how we think,the overriding question can sit on us like a weight, sinking deeper and deeper into our chest while we try to support it with the foundations of a person no longer there. Who Am I.
Who I was
To answer this question for you, I’ll start pre-conception. I was born in Wales, UK; lived in London for 7 years, and moved to Australia with my (now husband) at 24. My hair was pink, my tattoos bright, and my stomach often full of tequila. I was fun. Of course, this lifestyle does not sit flush with parenthood. The usual things changed – tummy growing to the point of bursting, favourite foods now nauseating me to my core, bladder now the size of a lentil – but I had to change in other ways too. I dyed my hair back to its natural colour as I could no longer keep bleaching it. My wardrobe changed drastically, from crop-tops and tight jeans to oversized dresses in bland colours (seriously, what is with all of the dull maternity wear!?). And, of course, no tattoos whilst pregnant.
A new me…
I tried to embrace this new me, in this new body doing new things. However, with all of my friends and family in the UK it was harder than I thought. I felt alone and disconnected from myself. So, I started to make mum friends. This worked for a while, then the identity loss began to swell in me again. These new friends didn’t know the old me, only the new version of myself which even I didn’t know yet. However, we were together in our pregnancies, with our common aches and pains. That was enough.
Then the baby came and I was a mother
Then the baby came, and it hit me like a cyclone. I arrived at hospital at 8 centimetres, and within 3 hours she was earth-side! With no complications or surgery needed, I was at home in less than 10 hours. The difference being, now I had a baby. I had barely gotten used to being pregnant, and now I was changed again. Now, I was a mother.
That brings us to today. I am now a parent of a toddler who has just turned 18 months. I am a writer, a home-cook, a pescatarian and a yoga-enthusiast. Additionally, I am a coffee-drinker and a wine-lover, a reader and a film buff. I am all of these things and more, but at times I am none of these. Therein lies the crisis.
Motherhood and identity loss
Identity loss is like anxiety or depression – lurking there in the background, always ready to strike. However, I have learned to live with it now, how to deal with the feelings and ride the waves. The problem with identity is that it is always changing. There are so many differences to being the mother of a newborn to the mother of an infant and a toddler, and I will continue to change as I become a mother of two or more, of teenagers and of adults.
So how do I deal with it? How do I exist not knowing who I am? Well, I only try to accept the fact. The reality is that who I am today may not be who I am tomorrow, and it certainly is not who I was last year. Accept this and stop fixating on who other people think you are, and instead exist and live in the moment. I understand now that identity is ever-changing, and now that question – who are you – suddenly is not so scary anymore.
In the words of Alanis Morissette:
I’m a bitch, I’m a lover, I’m a child, I’m a mother, I’m a sinner, I’m a saint,Alanis Morissette
About the author
Keisha began her writing career when she graduated from University with a Bachelor of Honours in Drama and English. Since graduating, Keisha has created content and copy for companies world wide, transcribed film and PHD audio and edited the work of many other creators. Keisha loves working with her clients and helping them to find the voice of their brand, and developing the image that they present to the world.
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