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Friday, January 28, 2005

Identity

"The man who renounces himself, comes to himself," Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I've been thinking about my identity. It used to be that I knew who I was by what I did. I was in sales and marketing and was very good at it. So, when I described myself, I would think, "I'm Jessica Polson. I'm in sales and work for xyz company. I've been the top salesperson for several months in a row contiguously, and have gotten that award continually since I began in my profession. I've brought a company that was in the red by $30K, up to $100K in a year. I'm great at publicity. I serve on this and that boards and work for alot of charities in the community." , etc.

Now, I'm Jessica Polson the migraneur, a mother and wife. I've had to redefine how I see myself. I'm no longer a powerhouse of energy and a workaholic. I'm a "stay-at-home" mom. And by that I mean, I can't leave the house! lol I have extreme photophobia to bright light, movement brings on the migraine pain even worse, and I certainly don't like to ride anywhere in a car right now.

Redefining yourself is a process. I felt so lost for awhile. I didn't know what my place was in the world. How could I be useful when I couldn't contribute financially to my household? I know that sounds like I was really materialistic and maybe I was to an extent. Basically, I just wanted my family to live comfortably and my daughter to get everything she needed in life. Plus, I like designer clothes and shoes, so I had to support my habit, my addiction. lol

But, seriously. I lost my identity. Who was I outside of work? At the time, it was horrible. I really had an identity crisis. But, now, I realize that I'd imprisoned myself in a defined box. I was such and such but nothing more or less.

When you're in a box, there are protective walls around you. But those walls also stand between you and everyone else. It's cramped. You can't move freely. You can't explore new places. There are no adventures. You only take calculated risks. And at some point, you become your box, identifying with it as if it were you inside and out. William Shakespeare hit the nail on the head when he wrote, "This above all: to thine own self be true,And it must follow, as the night the day,Thou canst not then be false to any man."

Now, I know that I'm so much more, and sometimes less, than the box. The box doesn't define who I am. I do. I have the freedom to explore who I really am. Who am I? It's the age old question and it takes a lifetime to answer. If I'd never become sick, I'd never have taken the risk to look for the answers. I might not even have asked the questions, or even known the right questions to ask.

It makes me think about the movie, THE MATRIX. Where your daily life is actually a false escape from reality. Your identity is keyed into something that isn't truly real. But, if you have the opportunity to wake up and smell the coffee, you discover a whole new side to yourself. And you finally come into full realization and awareness of the truth that is in you. It's almost as if you're reborn.

When you have to redefine your identity it's like being born and opening your eyes for the first time. You truly see yourself. All of your flaws are on display. All of the things that make you fallable, human and mortal. And, all of your good qualities are also brought into the light. Those things that make you a unique individual.

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