Who I am

Who I am July 19, 2012

Who am I? It’s a question that I started asking in earnest only a short time ago, and it seems like an endless process. It started with trying to figure out where I felt the most like me, the most at peace, the most beautiful. Little pieces came together slowly, separating who I am from who I was told to be. Some pieces were rather easy. I knew that I loved to read good books, that I love to write, that I enjoy messing around in the kitchen. But other peices felt mysterious to me, like looking in the mirror at a stranger.

Who was that person?

For a long time, I believed that question was wrong. That it didn’t matter who I was, it mattered who God was, and my only purpose in lifewas to serve him and love him above all else. In my understanding, that meant being a godly wife and mother, doing anything else was much less important, or even “selfish.”

Even though I have 4 children aged 5 and under, and often find myself overwhelmed by the amount of needs and just how badly I want to be there for all of my children, I still have that pull to keep having babies. It’s as if it will somehow make me valuable. If I am just pregnant, then even if I fail in every other area at least I’d be making a baby! And yet, I value my babies too much to turn them into my perpetual security blanket. My children will never understand their value and worth if I make their existence about their mother’s value and worth. So I continue my quest to learn who I am, and what makes me, me.

So over a year ago, I pulled out my old journals and read through the early entries, the ones where I dreamed of being an ice skater or a lawyer or a politician. The pages I wrote before I realized that girls weren’t supposed to dream of anything but a home with a husband and babies. Were those old dreams still part of me? I didn’t know anymore.
It felt so awkward to be me. I was uncomfortable in my own skin. At first it was an endless circle of doubt. Is such and such really me? Did I really feel that way? Did I really want that? But as I started the simple process of actually saying yes to things that I wanted to say yes too, and no to the things I didn’t want to do, slowly I began to find peaceful moments.

They happened when I was rolling around in the grass, playing with my kids, when I pumped my legs to swing higher on the swing at the playground, my hair going crazy in the wind. The moments happened when I gave myself permission to have a style that felt comfortable for me, even if that meant wearing pants to church instead of a lady like skirt, or cutting my hair short even though “it would make my face look fat”. When my muscles ached, I had dirt under my nails or flour up to my elbows, I felt confident. When I had no place to go and lay in my lovers arms, I felt peace. I’ve begun to believe that I don’t have to be perfect, I am good enough.

Slowly, Melissa is taking shape. When I am in the moment instead of worrying, when I am living life accepting it as is, when I am present and engaged and getting messy instead of doubtful and reserved, that’s when I feel most ALIVE and beautiful.

Asking who I am is simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting. Even though I am finally starting to have this new confidence, I have one area that still triggers that circle of doubt, (and like I said here, I think it will get better once I’ve actually taken the dive and gotten started) that would be school.

I know I want to go to school, but for what? Do I get a GED first? Or try to make up a high school transcript to enroll in college courses? I wonder if I should get on track to study for a career like being a Doctor or a Counselor or Social Worker? I love the idea of helping people, and humanity fascinates me. Or maybe it would be better to take a bunch of random classes to figure out what floats my boat. I love to research, maybe I could be a Scientist or a Teacher.

My doubts about my abilities to perform well in school, and my artistic side sometimes make me wonder if I am just getting distracted by the idea of school? Maybe who I am is more of a free spirit, an Artist-Musician-Writer sort of person who never really makes any money but revels in the artistic things they love. I question my motives. Maybe I only think I am interested in school because I wasn’t allowed to go and I feel like I have to prove something, except I am pretty sure that neither of those are entirely true, because the thought of not going to school makes me feel sad.

Maybe I could try a career that takes less school time and more hands on training, like a Massage therapy, that’s helping people, and I could have flexible hours. Or maybe an on the job training to be a Mechanic, machines are fascinating, and I’ve always wanted to know what is going on under the hood of my car.

And then there is my ongoing interest in food. The way I love serving something I’ve made, how I love to invent new recipes or try new things. How even though I don’t want to be cliché and choose one of the few things I was able to try as a woman in the quiverfull patriarchal movement, I find myself watching shows from the Food network and getting completely sucked in despite myself.


Regardlessof all the questions, and the unkown future, there are two things that are becoming clear.

One: You probably can’t be an Artist, Mechanic, Doctor, Teacher, Social Worker, Counselor, Coffee shop/Bakery Owner, Writer, Chef, Massage Therapist/Esthetician, Librarian all rolled into one.

Two: As a person who used to describe herself with words like “stupid,” “lazy,” “hopeless” and “worthless” I am finally begining to see who I am. I am finally learning to accept and love the things that make me, “Me.”

I am:
A gentle parent
A loving spouse
A feminist
A writer
A sister
An advocate
A researcher
A community person
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