Isn't that the question everyone is trying to answer? Especially perhaps if they are of a younger generation...and as this is my blog, yes, I mean people close to my own place in life...more my place in life than an actual age, as a number can have so very little to do with growth...regardless, I think that most people are searching for themselves or for a way to define themselves. I also believe that we never really stop searching and defining, just as life never stops changing.
This could be very disconcerting, because OH! the changes life can throw at you, but I have hope in my belief that as I gain experience and wisdom (ha!) along with years, this quest to define myself will become easier to address and deal with than it appears to be at the moment.
I also believe that there will come a time when the question will move from the forefront of my consciousness: HERE I AM!!! DEAL WITH ME!!! to the dusty, cob-webbed recesses of my sub-conscious: *knock, knock* remember me? Not that I will be cleaning out the drawers, closets and attic (to me it is a big place with lots of junk, okay?) of my mind one day and decide: hmmmm....I think it's time to put that waaaaaay back there in the corner, rather that my life will develop and its contents will grow, and somehow this question will just slip back there in the shadows simply because it is the only place it will fit. And we all know important questions such as these, life-defining ones, anyway, like a little room to breathe.
I also assume that this move will occur if/when I have children.
[We have arrived at the point where this is just what I *think* may happen to some people. It is what I believe will happen to me. No, I don't know what I am talking about because I have no children. See there? Up-front and honest, to the best of my ability.]
Depending on how you look at it (and also perhaps how jaded and/or naive you are), children either consume all of your time as the loving little pink, chubby bundles of joy that they are, OR do so by sucking the will to live right out of you with the occasional (read: I fear it may be constant) bouts of incessant crying, neediness, difficult-ness (and mine SO will be, because I am - life is like that) and days that would cause me to say things like "You won't believe what went on in THIS house today!!" - or any other versions and variations of the trials and tribulations of raising children that all parents could insert here:_______.
Just in case you can't seem to absorb the cynical nature of the above comments, I will now let you, the lovely masses, know that I believe life with children (or life at all, for that matter) is a combination of both ends of the crazy-spectrum, and actually more a balance of being somewhere in the middle of it most of the time, with occasional forays to either end, which conveniently makes one forget the all-important question because everything in your being is shouting at you that the answer is: YOU ARE A PARENT! WHAT ELSE COULD THERE BE?!??!
[I also realize that things are never as cut-and-dry as the following pretends to be. To emphasize that, I give you this: As people, we don't just *poof!* turn into something we previously weren't ('cause oooooh, buddy if we could do that, I would just *poof* turn myself into a rock-star!). I can't possibly just change overnight from being me (whoever THAT is) to being baby's Mama. Those would never be two completely different identities (we hope, cause if they were then I'd need to see a doctor), rather the Mama would just add to the Me that I already was, and presto-change-o, who I am will not have been re-defined, but further defined. Let me just add that I DO believe that the Mama instincts will override the Me instincts quite frequently, hence the *knock, knock*, remember me?]
I believe that as long as your children are the main focus of your life, they are a (the?) large(est?) part of how we define ourselves, and therefore provide much, if not all of the answer to the question. Yes, we have jobs - because we need to support our family. We become coaches, cheerleaders, chauffers, cooks, care-takers, and assorted other roles (many of which don't start with the letter "c...is for cookie") to enhance/fulfill their lives, and by doing so, they, in turn, fulfill ours. Our quest is at (somewhat of) a stand-still and the question gets placed up high on that dusty shelf where we forget we have placed it.
Until - and that is the key word - until - they are adults themselves and do not *need* us in great capacity any longer. Don't misunderstand; I fully know that children always need their parents. I need my Mom to listen to me babble on and on and ON about silly things and to then give me wisdom and advice on said things, and I need my Dad to tell me the best way to do a large number of things that only Dad knows (the best) how to do. And there are many other things that I need them for, love, understanding and support being the least of them (and perhaps the most important). But the fact is that I no longer rely on them to sustain my life. Food, shelter, clothing, and other essentials are covered by myself and my husband (as they should be, that is NOT the point). They do not exist to provide for me any longer. I do not define, in such a large way as I assume I once did, who they are. Having no children, I do not have a CLUE what that is like, but I imagine that it can be tough, OR like a gentle glide into what should be, depending on the parent.**
**Again, I have no children. I have made that abundantly clear. I am writing what I think, and I imagine that for some people I am right-on-the-money (whoooop!) and for others, I am completely-off-the-mark (*fizzle*). As I said, I believe it depends on the person, and again, I am writing (who-da thunk it?) about me and what I think I will probably do in regards to the question.
So when THAT happens, that change, that identity shift, parents begin the cleaning of the drawers, closets and attic. This occurs literally and figuratively. They get rid of what is no longer needed, or what is no longer relevant. Mementos are kept reminding them of what was, and memories are catalogued neatly into the files to be reviewed and enjoyed at a moment's notice, but cleaning occurs none-the-less. So guess what happens to be (lurking?) in that dark, cob-webbed corner? You know, just sitting there all dusty on the shelf? Ah, yes: the question.
This would mean that after a brief hiatus (of sorts) from the quest, we are once again back-on-board the ship in search of ourselves. Who am I, indeed.
A turn of events such as this would pretty much put me right back where I am today. Yes, the situation will be slightly different, and I will be older (still holding on to the older=wiser), but essentially I will still be asking the same old thing. I wonder if it will matter as much to me then as it does today, or if time wears it down and makes it not so shiny and new, and therefore not as important. I certainly hope not, as I cannot imagine a world where we are content to just *be* with nary a core belief of who we are in sight, nor the hint of desire to go and find out.
Why this topic? It just so happens that I have encountered a (what will most likely be one of many) very certain caesura in my life. By that I mean a rather inevitable pause in my path through life. What I was, who I was, as previously defined by me, has changed drastically over the past year. No, I did not lose myself, but the first few entries in my definition have been put away into their appropriate files, and I am left with a few things on the table that are not wholly familiar to me. And yet, they are me. I am faced with the task of further defining myself at a time when I never thought I would need or have to.
I only hope that I will have as great of an interest in and a need to answer the question throughout my life as I do right now.