A couple of years ago I started telling my daughters that they could be whoever they wanted to be. I can’t remember now if an embarrassing episode or getting in trouble sparked it. I just know that I wanted to start giving them authority over themselves and their stories early.
“I always screw up.”
“I can’t draw.”
“I’m so unremarkable.”
These were the things I said to myself as a kid. Ok, I probably didn’t say unremarkable. I think it was, “Everything about me is hazel—my eyes aren’t green or blue, my hair isn’t blonde or brown, I’m not popular or a total dork.” I wanted so badly to stand out and then later I wanted to blend in, the definition of both achievements an ever-evolving thing that stayed just out of reach. Being a mom has softened how I see myself and redefined how I interpret who each of us are.
We are neither the sum nor the whole of our screw-ups. The mistakes we make are things, not definitions of our character or markers for a life we are predestined to live. When I tell my daughters that they can change anything they want at any time, I am also saying it to myself. It hasn’t completely silenced the voice that says that I am not enough, but it has given me more control.
This summer I’ll turn 45, mostly I still feel like a blur of 17 and 23, with maybe a dash of 9. I balance on curbs, race up office building stairs trying to reach the landing before the door closes, and I always gasp at rabbits and deer. I continue to buy shades of lipstick that seem too daring for me, try them, confirm they are too much, and give them away.
I don’t really want to know better or mellow out. I love that parts of me have softened and other parts of me have emerged with hard angles, casting different shadows and letting in new light. I race to meet the sunrise and fall asleep like clockwork when a show reaches its climax.
I’m still trying to figure out the dance of being a business owner and being a mom, being a spouse and being a romantic partner, being myself and who I have not yet become.
I think we're all on our way to who we are at any given moment, it's the beauty and generosity of life. Hopefully we help each other see the ways that we can take who we are and make more joy, more hope, and more being ok with who we are.