I am terrified of never figuring out what truly makes me happy.
I look at the people around me, and most of them seem to have at least some idea of what does it for them. My best friend has a photography business and makes jewelry to sell at craft shows. My mother just started a bed and breakfast and is finally pursuing her dream. My sister is a veterinarian, participates in urban chicken farming, and is starting to attend beekeeper meetings. My boyfriend has a hundred talents and interests, and he is thoughtful and passionate about each one.
I met a friend of my boyfriend’s the other day and she said, “So tell me about yourself.” It’s not the first time I’ve been struck speechless by the question. If she were looking for adjectives, I could easily spurt out I’m creative and enthusiastic and kind of weird! But that’s not what people are looking for here. They want to know what you do or what you’re into. I stumbled through a response about having twins and being a copywriter. But the answer felt flat; I didn’t feel like I’d truly conveyed anything about myself.
I’ll take a moment to respond to what everyone invariably says here – Yes, having twins is a magnificent part of my life. It does take a significant portion of my time and energy to raise them, and I wouldn’t change that. Of course, being their mother is an amazing part of my identity, but it’s not who I am as a whole. There is more to me than being a mom. The year I spent at home when the girls were born was an incredible opportunity to care for them and see them grow. But it was also the time when I realized that I lacked an inherent sense of who I was. At that time, I was defined solely by my role as a “stay at home mom” and it devastated me. I felt lost under the weight of that title. Even now, I am swimming upstream to overcome the identity-swallower called motherhood.
I want to show my girls what it looks like to be happy. To be passionate and creative and to fail a hundred times. That money isn’t the end-goal and that your job title isn’t the most important thing about you. I have to teach myself to be courageous so that I can teach them. I think it takes courage to accept your identity for what it is instead of looking at some future ideal of yourself and waiting for that self to materialize.
I want to be able to say, “I’m a writer,” without feeling like someone is going to catch me in a lie. I tend to feel like I have to earn that title, somehow. But in truth, I feel like it’s the most genuine way I can describe myself. Writing is important to me, even if I haven’t been able to make a sustainable living on it (yet). When Michael asks me what I would do if there were no limitations, and my answer is always, “write.” So I guess that counts as passion. It’s just buried under fear and uncertainty. And those are things I can overcome in time.
So, Kaytee. Tell me about yourself.
I’m a writer. I love coffee and cake and making things. I have my mother’s hands. I’m in love with a boy who does photographer things. I have two daughters that are brilliant. I like terrible sci-fi movies and eating artichokes. I often feel scared and uncertain, but I’m working on that. I am happy.
2 comments on “Searching for Identity”
Before I knew you, I fell in love with your poetry. You ARE a writer!
I think you speak for a lot of moms here and you do it beautifully. Steven King once said that if you write something and someone else pays you for it and you deposit the check and pay the light bill with the money, that makes you a professional writer. Go ahead and tell people you are a writer. Say it with pride, as you not only have talent, but you are also paying the bills with a real job that requires you to write.