Who are you?
A question that is fairly common, and even an innocuous ice breaker ("Describe yourself in ten words or less." etc). I feel like I could answer this question differently at various times in my life. Perhaps that's the same for everyone. But at this exact moment, I'm at a loss. So much of what I considered part of myself has changed that I am not entirely sure what the answer is...
You can call it an identity crisis, an early (??) mid-life crisis, whatever. But things have changed in the last few months and I find that I can no longer identify with some of the major hallmarks of who I was for a very long time: an Expat, a Londoner, an HR Manager, even a New Yorker (city, not upstate). At my job in London I was the American girl in HR. In New York I was the girl with the shoes who had the greatest apartment location. But I'm not sure how someone would describe me now other than "M's wife" or "Bug's mom." And it's not that there isn't great validity in both of those things, because well and truly there is - but after having a child and leaving my career and repatriating back to my home country, I am finding it difficult to think of what else defines me as a person.
So who am I...? I'm still a wife, a mom, an upstater who's just returned after nearly 12 years gone, a friend, a daughter, aunt, granddaughter, sister-in-law, cousin...but all of that is relationship. What makes up me...?
I'm a 32-year-old girl who worked my butt off to earn a Masters degree from NYU that I'm still paying off. I'm a middle child who feels more like the oldest at times. I'm bogged down by an ironclad sense of responsibility and an incessant need for organization and rule-following that I wish I could pare down just a little bit. I'm a hopeless romantic who ironically has the hardest time sharing my feelings, unless they're in written form. I am a lover of crime shows, old romcoms, 'Friends', foreign languages, scented candles, trying new things, traveling, salty snacks, mystery and thriller novels, and all genres of music. I am someone who cannot help but start dancing when I hear the beat of music in the background - and often sing along without realizing it, too. I am fascinated by neuroscience, abnormal psychology, and absolutely anything involving the brain.
I am the girl who hated anything but bland, spice-free food growing up - which forced my mom to cook my dinner separately to the rest of the family - only to discover I love spicy food later in life. Hot curries, chili-filled Mexican food? Yes please! I am a girl who has never owned a piece of property in my life - who rented for 11 years in huge cities - and has now moved back to my hometown where I'm working on the purchase of the first house I'll ever (co-)own, in a smallish village outside of the downtown area. I am a longtime urbanite who now needs wide open spaces for my daughter to run and grow and play, and then one day spread her own wings. I am a girl who decided after starting my career in HR to go back to school for medicine, was accepted into an Ivy League school, and then had to move to London for my former partner's job, effectively shutting the door on that dream. I am someone who loves to ice skate, who took ballet 4 years ago for the very first time because I was told I was too klutzy to do it when I was a child, who used to swim in school and who misses the rush of diving in for a race something fierce.
I am a perpetual hobbyist - regularly deciding that Hobby X will be my new hobby, promptly going out and purchasing all accoutrements for Hobby X, giving it a start, and then somehow losing interest or gaining realization that I am genuinely no good at Hobby X....and repeating the process with Hobby Y. I am a control freak who itinerises all trips, builds in contingencies, and prepares my packing list at least a week in advance. I get on edge if we haven't left at the time I think we ought to have left for our plans. I am a highly anglicised American, who worries about not fitting in, in my own country, after living abroad for the last six years. I am a Christian, who loves God and my family more than anything in this world and am rebuilding my faith after turning away from it for several years because it was the path of least resistance. I am a dreamer, a believer, a procrastinator, and a cheerleader. I hold my friendships near and dear to my heart and wish often that I could see my friends in person - because most of my close friends live far away after all of my moves.
I am Rebecca. I am me. (Whoever that may be.)
My favorite quote is by Henry Stanley Haskins: "What lies behind us and what lies before us are but tiny matters compared to what lies within us." And my wish today is that I remember to take those words to heart. That I reconnect with the pieces of my identity that became less visible than my job, my nationality, my location. That I reacquaint myself with all that lies within. And that I be happy with - and proud of - what I uncover.