There comes a time in every person’s life when they embrace who they are, the good and the bad. I’m there. At 43 years old, it’s time.
That means I look in the mirror and see a not-quite-thin, not-quite-fat fortysomething mother-wife-entrepreneur-writer whose hair is thinner than it used to be and who has strong opinions. I speak my mind. That’s who I am. And I’m done making excuses for it.
I am a confident, outspoken woman with ideas. Passion. Perspective. Where I spent years trying to conform to someone else’s notion of who I should be (quieter, thinner, more demure, less opinionated), I am sick of doing that. I want to be who I was born to be.
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who speak their minds and piss some people off, and those who go along with the crowd and have many more friends. I fall into the first group; that’s just the way it is.
It’s why I am a writer, and it’s why some of my blogs resonate with people while others really get under their skin. Oh well. This is who I am.
And what does that really mean: this is who I am? Is there freedom in that? Only if by saying it, we live it, too.
Who I Am:
– spiritual yogi
– tennis player
– PR pro
– a person who cares deeply about righting wrongs in the world and making sure everyone finds happiness, peace and their unique path in life
– a person who just wants to be loved for who I am, even when who I am is upsetting or loud or angry or messy
As I plan the celebrations for my older son’s bar mitzvah, and then my daughter’s bat mitzvah, I am acutely aware that this is their celebration, even as it is our family’s celebration. As a mother, I see my role as guiding my children toward becoming the best possible versions of themselves while teaching them right from wrong.
Everything else is gray matter. Shady. Subjective.
There have been generations of parents who believe their children are theirs, and so any event or happening or milestone is theirs to own, too. It’s not their child on the bimah reading from the Torah for their own personal coming-of-age in the Jewish community; it’s the parents’ opportunity to shep nachas and claim this victory as their own. For parents like that, the child is the extension of the Self, not a wholly and completely separate being to whom they have given a freestanding life of their own to live.
I see things in the latter perspective. While I want my children to always agree with me and celebrate in the way I find meaningful, I am smart enough to know that just isn’t how life works.
They are their own individuals destined for their own journeys, and it is my job to support them. To encourage. To send love to the front lines with care packages that show they are part of something bigger and very, very important.
If we don’t embrace others as wholly separate from ourselves, if we blur lines, whether with our children or with our community or friends or family, then we make things really messy and potentially uncomfortable. And we come upon the age of 43 with a deep need to stand up and say, THIS IS WHO I AM, DAMMIT, YOU MUST ACCEPT IT.
I’m not alone in claiming my personal identity, but I wish there was no need to grandstand like this. I know people who say ugly things and are bitchy and shout and people love them for it. I know others who mouse along and stay out of the way and people sweep them up in their groups.
Remember, love is being able to see the human heart in another person and identify with their humanness as if you are one and the same. It’s not preferential attachment.
Here I stand saying, whoever you are, whoever I am, let’s drop the facade and start being authentic. Say what you deeply want to say and don’t back off from it if others find it uncomfortable. Look people in the eye and remark, “I am here to stay. Take the good, accept the bad, love me for me. And I’ll love you right back.”