I recently finished the book The Vanishing Half and y’all I feel so broken inside. This book challenged me so much and it made me think of the question of who I was. Here I am, a grown woman and questioning the why behind every choice and mistake I’ve made.
Our identity was being built the moment we entered the world. From our gender to our race, we were told who we are whether is what people decide we are or biology. Our home environment, neighborhood, and religious affiliation can shape who we are. Our beliefs were given to us throughout our life. However, it doesn’t mean that we have to permanently accept those identities and those beliefs. It’s why there is the argument of nature vs nurture. Is it genetics or is it the environment that we’re in that shape who we are?
Growing up, I was a quiet child. I was really socially awkward and lived in a fantasy land. I’ve always, ever since I could remember, have been focused on what I wish my life was life. I was weird as heck too. Remember, I said I lived in a fantasy land and boy did I have imaginations of me being with my celebrity crushes. Like even as a teenager I did that! I was mostly to myself. First, because I was barely allowed to do anything because my grandma was scared I was going to be having sex with whoever in her mind. Plus, I just never felt like I belonged. My family socialized with lots of people in the neighborhood. My aunt always made friends everywhere she went. I’m more of an introvert and socially awkward.
I based my worth on my accomplishments. For example, when I was in high school and took Honors and Advanced Placement (AP) classes, I felt like I was in such a group of bright students. I was raised around Jehovah’s Witnesses so that meant, no birthdays (unless my grandpa gave me something), no Christmas gifts (again, unless my grandpa or godmother got me stuff). I didn’t believe in sex before marriage (I’m still like this but…I’m not a virgin which is something I feel guilty about).
I’m still trying to find out who I am. Hell, even in my prayers I ask God to help me see or to become the person that he sees in me. What’s my true potential? I was speaking with a friend recently and I told her that she was pretty much the only person who knew the real me. I’m able to fully put down my walls and express myself without feeling like I’m being judged.
There’s an age old question: can people change? Yes! In fact they can change. As we saw in my post about The Vanishing Half, people can put on a whole new identity while trying to hide who they truly are. Changing your identity doesn’t have to be a negative thing. For example, I believe as Christians, we put on a new Christ-like identity. We put our former selves away. We cultivate wholesome traits. For example, in the Bible the apostle Paul (formerly Saul) persecuted Christians and even authorized putting some to death. What a difference he made when he came to accept God and Christ in his life!
Christianity is one way people can change. Another way is if someone has once struggled with addiction in the past. When they become sober, they take certain measures to make sure that they do not fall into the same traps or habits that got them addicted to drugs or alcohol in the first place. Sarah Ordo, one of my favorite girl bosses is an example of this. She became sober from drugs and alcohol after she almost died because of her addiction. I remember during a virtual workshop, she had us do an exercise in which we were to take a few index cards and write down labels other people have given us or what label we believe that other people have given us. We to say why we wrote them down then she had us to rip them apart. That was because how others labeled us didn’t matter. How we label ourselves is what truly matters.
One person who’s transformation I truly admire is that of Adrienne Bosh. If you don’t know who she is, she’s the wife of NBA Hall of Famer, Chris Bosh. Before she got with Chris, she was a known groupie. Rapper Lil’ Wayne once stated that she scammed him out of thousands of dollars because he was under the impression that she had cancer when in honesty she didn’t (f*cked up, right?). After she got with Chris, her life drastically changed. She has taken on the role of a prim and proper woman who his the total opposite of who she was previously. Just looking at her social media accounts, you can see that she tries to be wife and mother of the year. She advocates for mental health and black maternal health. She’s a philanthropist and once had a store in Miami called Sparkle and Shine Darling. Sometimes you can tell she’s putting on an act. Her pictures are all very strategic, which I cannot hate on. I still love her though. I admire her so much and hope to be a woman like her one day.
On the flipside, have you ever met someone or seen a celebrity of when they get more money or more fame, they seem to change for the worst? It’s very off putting, right? It can make someone you previously admired seem cold and distant and arrogant. We have to remain humble because if not, life can turn around and the same people who you dissed are the ones you need. Remember that!
I say all of this to say that its up to you to define yourself. No other person has that right. If you have to make yourself over and over again then so be it. However, don’t lose yourself trying to find yourself. Don’t lose who you truly are by trying to be someone else.
In the words of rock group The Who, “who are you? Who? Who? Who? Who?”.