How important is your identity?
What makes you YOU?
What defines you? What are your interests, your hobbies, your passions? What lights a fire in your soul? If you had to define who you are and what you enjoy what would you say?
I feel like you hit a wall somewhere in your 20s. Life becomes WEIRD real FAST. Some people have graduated and are nurses, accountants or on their way to law school. Some are still figuring out what they want to do with the rest of their lives (a daunting, nagging thought to consistently be present may I add). Some have moved across the country and have homes of their own. Some still live at their childhood home and have meals cooked for them by their family every night. Some are married. Some are drunkenly basking in the hook up culture. Some are hoping to settle down soon and some are allergic to the thought. Some, as myself, have children of their own even.
With these new, huge, life altering changes comes life altering perspectives. These changes readjust, remold and restructure who we are, who we have been, and who we knew. These life milestones we go through bring growth and growth inevitably brings change.
Change, for me at least, is not an easy thing to adapt to. Pre-baby I knew who I was and I had an idea of where I was heading. I knew I loved my boyfriend, now promoted husband. I knew that I liked to have F-U-N, I knew I enjoyed traveling and I knew I would get where I needed to be some day, but that day was not today. So imagine the shock I endured when I found out we had a tiny human en route. I knew life was going to be different but I didn’t realize just how different. I failed to realize what moving on to the next chapter meant. That I was about to meet a completely new version of myself and say goodbye to the old me (well, partially but I am getting to that part).
Even though I read every book, blog and pamphlet available I still was not fully prepared for what becoming a mother entailed. I did not realize just HOW MUCH it would turn my life upside down. It change my outlook, my mindset and my thoughts. It changed my interests, values, goals and dreams. Now, this can be said with any huge life milestones as well. When you face change it is going to shake the ground you walk on. It is up to you to learn how to deal with your earthquakes.
My first BIG life “earthquake” was afoot; the arrival of my daughter. Life was AMAZING but at the same time it was not…. I lost myself. I did not understand who I was anymore, what I liked to do or what made me happy. My name was Mom not Jess. My hobbies included changing diapers, breast feeding and taking a million pictures of the CUTEST BABY EVER (OK maybe I am a bit bias). I ate, slept and breathed motherhood. It consumed me whole and the Jess I loved was silently falling through the cracks begging me to help her back out.
This type of situation can happen in more than the process of becoming a parent. You can loose yourself in a job, to a relationship, by moving and leaving friends behind or even to the stress of trying to figure out your future. But, you can always, always, always be YOU again. It just takes some work.
As I started to become more and more aware of my loss of identity I was yearning to be my old self again. I missed that girl but she was gone. I was desperately trying to grasp on to her for comfort. But, I could not stay out till 4 am or pick up and leave the country when I wanted like I used to. I was accountable for more than myself now. The new me felt like a stranger. I felt like I had no idea who this chick was or even if I liked her and if I didn’t what was I going to do about it? I knew old parts of me were still alive and well I just needed to re-find them and redefine them.
The first step at meeting and knowing the new me was acknowledging that I existed, that I mattered and I was important too. I know this can be a huge challenge, especially as a mother. But you can not take care of a baby, a career or anyone else if you fail to take care of yourself. It started out as small things like taking longer showers, buying a good coffee and putting on clothes that made me feel more put together (btw this meant changing from the “bad” sweats into the “good” sweats. I am still realistic over here.) Those small intentional self care attempts brightened my spirits so, so much. I then started to experiment with activities I used to do, that I used to like. I re-tried soccer, snowboarding, thrifting, going out with the girls, reading, writing, binge watching my favorite shows, the list goes on. I went to church again, reestablished the most healthy relationship I had ever had with God. I truly felt that was my pivotal point in feeling myself again. I was starting to feel at home and at peace with the new me. I liked who I was becoming, I was proud of this new girl I was.
At this point I was on a good path but still was not 100% transitioned from pre-baby Jess to my new self. I found myself scrolling through VSCO and Pinterest for inspiration on a version of motherhood I wanted to embody. Do I still get to be fun like I was? Is dressing hot ok or is that like weird? Do I want to be the mom who spends every Sunday morning basking in cuddles with my toddler? Or do I want to cheers with my friends on Saturday night? Do I want to stay in and love my baby or go out and live my life. Both. The answer is both. The answers will always be BOTH.
- I can dress up and have cocktails.
- I can go to church
- I can play on a summer league team.
- I can go to a concert.
- I can go to mommy and me group.
- I can go to the farmers market.
- I can go snowboarding.
- I can blog.
- I can play baby dolls with my daughter.
- I can go to the movies and watch 50 Shades of Grey.
- I can go to the movies and watch Secret Life of Pets 2.
- I can visit cute coffee shops, baby in hand.
I can spend Friday night cuddled up watching Moana with a toddler.
I can spend Friday night at a bar with my friends.
All while being a great mother. Because you can be a mom here, there and anywhere. Because that is what moms do. We do it all. You can be you. You NEED to be you. You have to be more than your job title, relationship status and family role. I can not provide value as an individual with out being an individual. There is nothing to your job, relationships or family if you are not your own person with your own hobbies, goals and dreams. You absolutely need your own skills, opinions and thoughts. I ENCOURAGE you to get to know YOU better because YOU ARE IMPORTANT.
Sit down with yourself today. Ask yourself, what do you like to do for fun? What defines you? What are your interests, your hobbies, your passions? What lights a fire in your soul? If you had to define who you are and what you enjoy what would you say?
Ask yourself, what makes you YOU?