Thursday, January 22, 2009


I love it when a book I read leaves me thinking afterwards. "Spirits in the Wires" by Charles de Lint, that I wrote about recently, stayed in my mind for a long time after I read it. I actually read the book over a week ago, and usually my mind has moved on to new things within a day or two, especially when I'm reading other books, but not this time!

I keep coming back to the concept of IDENTITY. Who we are, how we define ourselves, how others define us, mistaken concepts, my own journey...

One of the main forms of identifying ourselves, or others, is the use of labels. It's only natural afterall, the sense of self is a esoteric concept that can't easily be defined, so we start putting lables on it to make it a more tangible concept that we can grasp. The problem with that is that those labels will change over time, and if we've come to find our personal self-worth in them, that can be a painful experience.

I think of myself at 21, and the labels I had attached to myself back then...the list included:

Room mate
Swing Dancer

I look at those labels, and out of all of them, the only ones that still apply are daughter and friend! I'm sure if I thought long enough I could come up with more labels, but my life has changed a lot in the last 5 years. Some of those labels I gave up easily, and some of them were quite painful to let go of.

Most recently I had to give up my identity as a college student. It wasn't something I gave up easily, or without good reason, but it was something that had to be done. It was one of the most painful decisions I've made in a long time!

I realized, after the fact, that a part of my struggle in letting go of college was that I had wrapped up a large part of my identity in that label, in being a college student. I had good reason to, I love to learn, and I had worked very hard to get to where I was! But it was still a mistake.

Since then I've realized I should have based that portion of my identity on my love of learning, not the outcome of it, my status as a college student. I do love to learn! That's something that will never change, wether I'm a student, or a business woman, or a wife, or wherever I go.

How do you define you identity? To you focus it on what you do? Or the reasons behind what you do? Do you focus in on what you value, or you think others value?


Kate said...

I've gotten to a point where I think of myself as a Kate, which has the advantage of being pretty unlikely to change, though it's not terribly specific.

~~Sew Happy Designs~~ said...

McStevie and I have taken several ballroom dancing lessons and swing dancing is my favorite! I have great childhood memories of watching my Dad and Mom jitterbug and they taught me how. My Dad died when I was 12 and I became my Mom's jitterbug partner...except we both wanted to lead! I hope you have not put up your dancing shoes, yet, Ruthie! I hope you always dance as though no one is watching!

Oh...yeah...I guess I define myself as a wife, Mom, grandmother and sister who enjoys every one of those roles to the utmost...I dance in each role with happiness for being so blessed by God.. to be me!
Blessings, hugs and kisses~

Live, Love, Laugh, Write! said...

I suppose I should clarify since SEW brought it up - but I still love dance...I just can't dance because of how bad my health has been. I've danced once in the last year...and it was a slow dancing at a wedding, because that was all I could physically do.

BeadedTail said...

What a thought provoking post. I don't know how to begin to think of my identity as I'm still discovering it. For labels I'm a daughter, wife, animal lover to name the ones that come to mind tonight. I'll have to ponder my true identity though...

TiLT said...

wow - thinking about it, my labels have changed quite a bit too...but listing them would just make me sad, realizing it's too short & none for you've got me thinking...and wanting to dance :)

uniquecommodities said...

Great post Ruthie! I think I define myself as christian,mom,grand mom, daughter,friend,sister, auntie and simply uniquely me!

Anonymous said...

I thinkI have to dwell pretty long and hard on that question. It's a tough one my fellow Jedi lol. I will come back when I really find out whoI am in all of this.