On figuring out who you are….

I feel like most of us spend a substantial portion of our lives trying to define ourselves. What is it that makes us who we are? What is that one “thing” that we do or are that tells the world (or, at the very least, our friends and family) what makes us tick? For some, that “thing” is a job or career. For others, it’s a hobby. Maybe it’s an emotion. Maybe it’s “wife” or “husband” or “parent.” Whatever it is, however we choose to define ourselves, it takes work. We become fully invested in cultivating, sometimes even perfecting, the definition we’ve chosen for ourselves. It becomes a job, in and of itself.

So what happens when that definitive “thing” suddenly changes or stops altogether?

For the last several years of my life, I’ve defined myself primary as “student.” I’ve done and been other things at the same time, but “student” has always been the big one. Almost my whole world was consumed with the idea of being a student and everything that goes along with it. My studies were the first and last thing I thought about every day. I spent nearly all my lunch hours doing homework and most of my evenings were absorbed by the same things…reading, writing, testing, etc. If someone asked me “what I did,” the response was almost always, “Well, I’m a full-time student and…”. Everything else beyond my studies was basically secondary. Everything else took a backseat to me being a student. Being a student was everything to me. I didn’t want to just do well in my classes. I wanted to kill ’em. I wanted a 4.0 so badly I could taste it (Biology and Latin really screwed me in that department, but whatever…Cs get degrees!). I spent eleven years in some college or university, applying myself to whatever classes I was in at the time.

Then it finally started to kick in and I saw a tiny light at the end of this massive tunnel I’d dug for myself. I was actually going to graduate by the time I was 30. I’d spent so much time screwing around with my life and education that I honestly never thought I’d finish a degree. It took forever to finally figure out what I wanted to do with my education (which, in and of itself, is hilarious because I ended up coming back to the one thing I’ve always loved). I started over no less than four times so I just resigned myself to being a life-time student. That’s just how it was going to be. And then I came to the final semester of my senior year and it hit me that I’d completed this previously-unattainable goal I’d set for myself. I powered through all my classes and kicked their asses. I finished strong and well.

And then…

It was just…over.

Eleven years of defining myself as a student and it’s all just gone. Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t go back to it. It was hard and I took a path that is 100% unrecommendable, I assure you. I think that I’m just a bit confused on how I’m defined now. What do I call myself? What do I throw myself into now that the ONE THING that consumed me for so long is just gone?

Now before anyone gets all up in arms about this, don’t worry. Being defined as “Todd’s wife” is by and large one of the most enjoyable things to be called. And one day, I’ll look forward to being defined as “mommy.”

I just don’t know what to do with all this free time. I had a very strict schedule that I stuck to for years so not having that structure now is very foreign to me. I don’t want to just be a bump on a log and watch TV all night, every night. I like to read and I started going to the gym again. I’m quite enjoying that. I’ve considered going back to mentoring junior high and high school girls, but I’m not sure I’m in a place to do that again. I really really really want to have my Martha Stewart house that I’ve always dreamed of, so I’m very much considering pouring myself into that venture. I have a list a mile long of things I want to do to the house and I’m willing to put in the time to make it all happen. I just need the money, too…and I tend to be impatient when I get my head set to something.

The point here is that, more often than not, when one things ends, something else is usually right around the corner. For me, that hasn’t been the case. My one big thing just ended. So I struggle with my definition now.

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