“Fear and dreams go together.

They are pieces of your own identity.

They are part of who you are.”

 

Identity

noun  iden·ti·ty  \ ī-ˈden-tə-tē , ə- , -ˈde-nə- \

Individuality: the distinguishing character or personality of an individual

 

If you are a living breathing human, which I am assuming you are since you’re reading this,  identity might mean something different to you than me. Maybe you feel your identity is solid, maybe you realize like I do that it is fluid and changes over time. Maybe you are the same 4-year-old who wanted to be a superhero when you grew up and still want to be that hero at 65. Or, maybe you are realistic and that superhero dream turned into being an accountant. Either way, your own identity is the way you see yourself including how you feel, your personality and beliefs, your looks (because lets face it, looks are a part of who you are) the self-image you project in others, and the qualities and values you hold after years of learning and failing in life.

I know that my individuality differs greatly from when I was a 6-year-old girl writing my first story—about a deaf and blind girl whose mother slaps her in frustration over her inability to hear and see–to the almost middle-aged me. Get ready as I take you on a random roller coaster ride with this piece…I haven’t a damn clue what the point is yet. Hopefully, you’ll hang in there with me as I figure it out.

Just as my imagination changed from the little girl who wanted to be a writer, it’s also changed from the 22-year-old who thought being a writer was a pipe dream. I liked to write, but I needed to work and build a career to make money. After all, money mattered most. Especially coming from poverty. I would have done anything to flee the poverty monster and find a place in this world. But, that didn’t include being a starving artist.

“I always wanted to be a writer…

I mean a real writer.

You know like one with people who read their shit…

When you were young, figuring out your identity might not have crossed your mind. Like me, you probably just wanted to live life and survive—whether that was working, partying, studying or all of the above. At 22, I just knew I needed to earn a living, be a responsible person, and figure out how to survive in the real world. Looking back now, I didn’t have a true identity. I didn’t have individualism as I ran the expected rat race with everyone else. Now I know there is no true identity. It’s a fluid idea that changes over the years. Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” But, what if you don’t know who you are, or worse, how to be you?

All these years, fear sat in my driver seat. Not the basic fear of failure–since I’ve always believed if you put your heart and knowledge into anything you can make something great of it—but fear of surviving, fear of poverty, fear of being found out, fear of living my true self.

Growing up in poverty meant I always had people looking down on me because my mother and I were poor. It also means I always had something to prove. Poverty and proving myself were both so much a part of my identity I didn’t realize I was living the Impostor Syndrome and that was what kept me from sharing my writing with the world. You can learn more about Impostor syndrome here, here and here.

Can you relate too?

I always wanted to be a writer…I mean a real writer. You know like one with people who reads their shit and gains some kind of recognition. As my identity changed as I grew as a person, I went from wanting to write to wanting to be a writer to being an actual writer. That not only includes the few small pieces I’ve published but also this horribly maintained, terribly long-winded blog full of adverbs—that as we all know pave the road to hell. Thanks, Mr. King!

“Then new fear surfaced in my identity:

The fear of dying before I’ve actually lived.

Yes, fear is apart of my identity as is impostor syndrome. Both kept me from being what I wanted and from seeing what  I was.. Being a starving artist was once my biggest fear. Not that I thought I would jump into the world of writing and instantly feel the love but that I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills and would be forced back into a life I desperately wanted to run from.

Then, when my mom was diagnosed with cancer, a new fear surfaced in my identity: The fear of dying before I’ve actually lived. I never worried about this. But as middle age approaches (Yikes!! I can’t believe I am even writing that) people I love and care for fall prey to disease, sickness, and death. I am, at a young ripe middle age, aware now that life is shorter than I can see while living it. A short life not well lived is no life at all. If there are things I want to do in this life, I have to do them now.

“Yet when I first jumped into the world

I most wanted live, I lost myself.”

So I left the gray cubicle behind for the life of the starving artist I once feared and I left that fear behind too, changing my identity. My 22-year-old fear dissipated over the years of rejections and insecurities. I  learned to survive and depend on someone else to keep me alive. P.s. Thanks to my husband for working hard and supporting us while I “house mom it” for a while. Yet when I first jumped into the world I most wanted live, I lost myself. I lost myself in the death of my mother. I lost myself in letting go of the purpose in my fear that drove me into a career I hated. I lost myself in having time to be who I wanted to be and not even knowing who that was or how to get there. I lost myself in the walls of my house instead of the walls of my cubicle. I lost myself in being a mom and wife and not understanding why it kind of sucked to just stay home and take care of your family. Sorry guys, I love you. I do! But…my identity was gone. I just didn’t know who I was anymore.

There is a video from motivational and lifestyle vlogger Jay Shetty. It’s about doing things in your own time and how everyone has a different clock. You should watch it. No really, you should definitely watch it. Right now. I’ll wait…

While you are there, watch this one too since this post is as much about fear as it is identity.

I am doing things in my own time, according to my own clock and just like there is a 6-year-old girl who is self-publishing her own stories with goals of becoming a multi-millionaire by 9 years old, there is also a mom—a wife, a single women, a dad, a single man—nearing middle age or not that is working according to their own clock, finding their old/new identity, and carving out a place for themselves in the world after all their years surviving and living.

“Fear and dreams go together.

They are pieces of your own identity.

They are part of who you are.”

Impostor syndrome gives me the idea that I will be found out and forced down into a fiery pit of lava to burn for all eternity doing the one thing I hate most because I suck at what I want to do. For me, that is filing and paperwork. Though I haven’t been a file clerk since I was 20 years old, I’ve had the nightmares about never amounting to anything more. I’ve also the fantasies sitting in my screened in summer porch with endless hot coffee creating next great big hit. Stephen King will recommend it on social media–even if it’s not a horror story he would recommend it anyway—and everyone falls in love with all my words. Fear and dreams go together. They are pieces of your own identity. They are part of who you are.

Do you have impostor syndrome too? Has it taken hold of your identity? It’s ridden the fear wave long enough. It’s time to let go of the idea you aren’t good at what you do and you can’t be what you want. If you don’t have the confidence, yet, then at least pick up the “don’t give a fuck” attitude to carry you until the confidence follows.

That is my favorite part of my identity now. I don’t give a fuck anymore about the things once drowning me in fear. I am bound to insult someone, hurt someone, piss someone off, make someone disagree with me and any and all of the above that will give me the dirty looks or lose friends. So be it. Like the quote that Dr. Seuss did not actually say, “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

What is the point of all this…fuck if I know! But thanks for reading my long-winded spew fest.

Tell me where your identity trip has taken you in the last 20 years…Do you wish you spent more time with your parents? Did you learn a lesson that changed your entire perspective? Did you lose yourself after giving up a life you hated because it was all you ever knew? Give it to me in the comments. Chances are I will relate and if not me someone somewhere reading this will!

 

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