I used to know. I remember when it was easier but I didn’t think so at the time. I was “Chubby”. I was happy. I was short. I was shy. I was average. I didn’t stand out, wasn’t opinionated, always had at least 1 or 2 best friends.
Identifying who we are or how we want to be perceived varies depending on where we are in our lives.
Turning point? I was 11 years old when I answered that question for the first time. Because of a virus, my kidney’s stopped working and I was placed in the ICU of the pediatric ward in Newark, New Jersey’s Beth Israel Medical Center. I didn’t think of myself as the girl with the IV pole, or the girl in a wheelchair, or the girl with a pee-bag, or the kid in dialysis. I was the girl with purple arms. That was the first time I identified myself as being unique, different, not like anyone else. I remembered asking my mother if I would ever look normal again. She explained about the procedures of taking blood so often leaving my arms purple and that eventually the skin wouldn’t be bruised and I’d return to “normal”.
As a parent today I can’t imagine what that must feel like to have to answer such a question.
In high-school I was “Chubby”. I was happy. I was short. I was shy. I was average. I didn’t stand out, wasn’t opinionated, always had at least 1 or 2 best friends. The next time I was aware of asking myself this question was when I was confronted as a high-school student by a youth group administrator. He felt my friends were bad influences on me and mentioned how he thought I should look for a new group friends. Horrified and angry because as a teenager you define yourself by your associations. They were my people. I was part of them, we all thought the same things, acted the same way, made each other laugh and they were always looking out for me, protecting me, were protective of me. I was the girl everyone loved to protect. I didn’t understand why he’d say such a hurtful statement but after we went our separate ways and I was able to see things from a different perspective, I understood what he was trying to tell me. Still, I didn’t love it, but I got it. I wasn’t anybody in my own right. I had to ask the question, who am I?
Spending the summer away from my core peer group gave me new insights. I lived abroad meeting new people, some from other countries and again I was confronting myself, defining the kind of person I wanted to be. Excited to begin college, a year and a half later, I was ready for change. I was the student who started on probation and finished making Deans List and on my way to getting a degree. I was a Ranger’s fan. I was a youth group adviser. I was the owner of a goldfish. I was the bridesmaid.
I graduated and received a service award because I wasn’t only studying, proving to myself that I was smart enough if I just applied myself. I worked at making it an experience to remember including all aspects of dorm, social and academic life. I was “Chubby”. I was happy. I was short. I was no longer shy. I was better than average. I didn’t stand out more than the next guy. I started to form my own opinions. I always had at least 1 or 2 best friends.
Now, after being married for almost 15 years, having 5 children, working at 8 various jobs and the proud owner of a domain name I am at that place once again. How do I define myself? I am a blogger. I am a glorified secretary. I am a mother, a friend, an Israeli, an American, a Jew. I am 40. I am “Chubby”. I am happy. (when I’m not crying). I am still annoyingly short. I am reserved and thoughtful. I am trying to not be average. I want to stand up for what I believe in. I formulate my opinions based on educating myself and listening to others. I still have at least 1 or 2 best friends.
I am secure (but I still won’t eat by myself in a restaurant). I am confident (but I still don’t like being the center of attention). I am sensitive (to the point of no return – can we say BIG FAT CRY BABY?). I am funny (and often embarrass myself just to get a good laugh). I am creative (and doodle most of the time during office meetings) . I am still evolving.
Change is good, growth is necessary.
I look forward to asking myself this question 5 years from now.
Challenge of the day. Can you answer this question?
Who are you?