Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Who Am I?

How can I figure out what I need if I don't know who I am?

There is a hole in me I have been trying to fill. I have been searching, reading, writing, thinking. Nothing fills it. I write about cowgirls and houses. I feel restless, wanting. What am I looking for? Where will I find it?

Megan "Joy Girl" guest blogged at Erasing the Bored recently, where she said,
"I’m in a relationship now with someone who respects me, wants for my happiness, has compassion, and uplifts me when I’m feeling down. He is mirror, reflecting back to me the truths I now feel about myself. As such, he’s shown me that in the last few years I’ve grown to love myself much, much more than I ever thought possible. But he’s also shown me that I have a ways to go."
Donald believes that I am whole and raises me up out of my low self-esteem haze. He can't imagine what I think might be missing. I teeter at the edge, believing that I have lost my identity, that I have no idea who I am. How do I find my way back?

Several of my favorite bloggers have posted about getting rid of clutter. I see my identity reflected in the things I own, the things that surround me. My stuff defines me because it represents my choices and tells people what is important to me. Perhaps I will uncover my identify by clearing out the clutter.

Communicatrix summed it up pretty well in this post when she said,
"So. The “why?” Well, clarity, for starters, or more clarity. Freedom, definitely. Tired of feeling bogged down by my environment, and trapped (rather than supported) by my stuff. As the piles start to dwindle, though, I get the sense that this particular stripping down is me getting ready to say, “I’m a writer; this is what I do—I write.”"
Janice at Sharing the Journey has written about this several times, too, most recently here. Dani at positively present also supports the decluttering goal.

The catch, though, is that in order to only keep what I need, I need to know what I need, so I need to know who I am. What do I think I'm missing? Do I really want to be more like that cowgirl? Do I really feel drawn to the West or is that just my imagination and romanticism talking? How do I figure out what I really need if I don't know who I am?

I'm supposed to listen to and trust that inner voice. How do I know I'm listening to the right one? Or the real one? I change my mind about projects often, throwing myself into something only to abandon it a few weeks later. I don't want to live that way. 

In an earlier review post, I talked a little about making decisions based on what I thought other people would think of me. Nadia at Happy Lotus writes in this post when she says,
"Years ago, if you were to ask me what kind of clothes I liked, I would not have been able to answer because my choices were based on what I thought I should choose."
I have done this more times than I can count. Those decisions did almost nothing to make me happy. I still often defer decisions because I have no idea what I think or want. Does this mean that I have no idea who I am?

My self talk goes downhill, saying "I am happy, but..." or "I would do this, but..." I spiral into second guessing myself. I worry about the danger of flying off and doing something spontaneous. What are the costs? What do I risk? What are the consequences?

How can I possibly make a good decision when I don't have enough information about who I am to know that I am acting with integrity?

(Have I made you dizzy yet?)

Lance at the Jungle of Life posted a Sunday quote that pulled me out of the spiral. There is so much to gain.

Evita's guest post at The Bold Life reminded me that bold steps must be taken and that it is safe to trust our inner voice.

At Quest for Balance, Lisis' favorite post of her own explained that everything I need I already have.

Peggy at Serendipity Smiles reminded me that I will not find what I am looking for outside of me. I need to look inside.

I am learning to hear my own voice. It is not a failure to be unsure of what I think about everything I encounter. Instead, it's an opportunity to learn more about who I am and can be.

The hole is gone. I am no longer spinning. I filled it with a list of things I know.


  1. Hi Daphne,

    Yay for the hole being gone! Woo hoo! :)

    And you are not failure. So many people have no idea who they truly are and somewhere along the line, we all have to face that question and do our best to answer it.

    Sometimes it takes years to get the answer since we are always evolving but it all begins with one step.

    I look forward to hear what you discover.

    And thank you so much for mentioning my post. I am honored. :)

  2. Nadia - Thank you so much for the kind words and support. I often find inspiration and encouragement in your blog. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with your readers.

  3. I'm honored to be among those you're looking at as you develop your writer's voice and learn to your inner voice.

    If it's at all helpful, I started seriously grappling with these issues of "who am I?" when I was around your age. In the 20 years since, I've gotten clearer and clearer on it, but as you can see, I'm not there yet. It's a process, and the joy is in the process, so you're doing everything right.

    One thing I wish I'd stuck with when I was younger was some kind of quiet practice: meditation, regular walks (sans audio device), sewing, what-have-you. If it can be qi gong (or however you spell it) or meditation of some kind, probably so much the better. The idea is not to quiet your mind, exactly--at least, not at first. It's to start *noticing* the chatter. The being able to notice and let it pass comes next.

    For discovering your voice, I recommend metric buttloads of reading and writing. Also helpful are the Listography books. There's something in looking at what attracts us over and over again that can teach us quite a bit about our voices, inner and outer.

  4. communicatrix - I'm honored that you visited and commented! I really enjoy your blog and this is not the first post of yours that has had an impact on me.

    I really appreciate you taking the time to tell me more about your journey. It gives me confidence and hope to know that other people have done it (successfully) too.

    The discovery is definitely the journey - I don't expect to have some solid definition at any point in time.

    Thank you so much for commenting and for the encouragement and support. I'll check out the books. I'm also working little bits of meditation into my life as I make time for it. More time will be made for listening.

  5. Hi Daphne,
    Taking a very simple Zen approach, you are the hole you think you see/feel. Notice what you wrote filled the hole..........it is filled with you! Lovely!

  6. suZen - Oh wow... I truly hadn't even realized that it worked out that way! I went through so many drafts of this post that I wasn't sure it made sense anymore. Maybe I know more about what I'm doing than I thought! Thanks so much for stopping by.

  7. Dearest Daphne,

    I am so honored that you mentioned me in this thoughtful, soulful, wonderful post!

    Hooray for you for making the list of all you know. It's an exercise that even I can learn from as my list needs a revamp! And as SuZen so brillantly pointed out: "what you wrote filled the hole...it is filled with you!"


  8. Peggy - It's an honor to have you commenting on my post, truly! Thank you so much for the compliment and support. Your blog often inspires me - the story of the way you and your daughter have handled the changes to her wedding plans moved me deeply and keeps me going when I feel frustrated. I transformed my lost feeling into a found feeling. I don't know where I got the idea of the list of all I know. I'm just grateful I knew it would be a helpful tool. Good luck revamping yours!

  9. As I was next to you in Janice's Clutter comments, I thought I'd say hello. Now I am leaving comment here, too! I think your question, Who am I? could be the wrong one. I think you are asking, (because you are unique), How best do I shape my life? So it fulfills the real me. There is no doubt who you are, even if you get confused! Chasing the perfect solution or the ideal you can be the problem. I recommend taking new paths every day. Cross the road. Walk on the other side. Repeat nothing! Wash, dress, cook, eat, hug, smile, always in NEW ways. Crazy ways that make you laugh. Be unpredictable. See and think about things (anything) differently. Change speed. Then you meet different people. You fascinate. It is a private game by which you let every new feeling and discovery amaze you. Then you are giving yourself POWER, which no one can remove and that shapes you. Your purpose is found by being different, in as many fun ways as you can. The real you is wonderful. If you suppose you don't know who you are, your loyal brain will support you by providing all the evidence you want to imagine you are confused. That's its job. Ask it, formally, to seek out the most wonderful things around you every day, to create a genius-filled life! (You or your brain may cry. For the first time in your life, maybe, you are giving it exact instructions, lovingly. When did you last say to it: Thanks? or Let's produce a wonderful Life?) I reckon we are all born geniuses of a kind, Education tends to smack it out of us. We are all weird. Always experimenting and changing. It is when joy does not flow back sufficiently, that we question who we are. Hope that is of use. Alastair. And best wishes to Donald. PS. Why not create another blog (costing nothing). Use the same material, but craft it differently. See which you and others like best. Have different readers. They will never discover this blog in a million years unless you tell them. So experiment. Why not have 3 free blogs? Keep surprising yourself and you'll just love your life. Then, somehow the question, Who am I? will disappear, by answering itself. You'll know. You'll just be handing out joy to others. That will become the real you.

  10. Alastair - My goodness! Sounds like you should write a post about this too. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and suggestions. Donald appreciates the well wishes. As for other blogs, one makes me happy.

  11. Daphne -- when I was young, my mom used to pick out all my clothes. As she was blond and blue eyed, the colors she picked usually didn't work for me, but I wore them.

    When I got older, I continued to pick the same colors because I was used to them. Then one day, I got daring and picked a shirt in this bold red that made me feel alive and sexy. It was just the beginning of finding my own clothes and my own self.

    Life is similar. It takes time to shed the stuff other people have told you fits you. It sounds like you're starting to do this more now...to figure what suits you and makes you feel alive and special. Be patient with yourself. You are emerging and the world better watch out when you free yourself:~)

  12. Sara - How perfect that you commented today about clothing! I'm working up my excitement to embark on the beginning of the Great Clothing Clean-out project this weekend because there are too many things in my closet that don't make me feel good or like the me I want to be.

    Good for you for finding your own way and choosing what to shed and what to keep. Thank you so much for the encouragement and support.

  13. I raise my glass to further findings...!

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  15. Jenny - Thank you so much! *clink!*

  16. I can really relate to what you're going through, and from where I sit, it just means that a change is coming. Does that mean you have to do something right away? No. Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is observe what our mind is wrestling with - how lost we feel, what scares or intrigues us - and accept it. That's it. Inaction in the midst of a chaotic mind is, I've found, better than action. If you turn inward, listen to your gut and ask for help deciphering which is the "real" gut and which is fake (I've been told our gut instinct is very soft and almost imperceptible, but it's steady; the false gut seems "loud" but will change in an instant). Your gut --- or heart, as it were --- will lead you where you need to go. You cannot be misled. If you get off-track, rest assured the Universe will step in and shove you back on!

    As for decluttering, I think that when our minds are noisy our outer worlds are noisy (cluttered). When our minds are peaceful our outer worlds are peaceful. The opposite is also true, so know that the outer can affect the inner just as easily.
    You can do this, and I'm glad that reading various things this week helped you. Keep shining!

  17. There's a lot to be said for decluttering. I'm a natural pack-rat and find getting rid of things to be excruciating, but I still push myself to do this as often as I can. And getting rid of ideas -- especially negative ones -- can be even harder.

  18. Great post Daphne! Very deep thoughts, this is what gets you to where you need to be. The discovery and journey is a wonderful thing!

  19. Actually, we will never know who we are unless we become aware that we don't know who we are. In the process of our query, we are lead deep inside us to discover who we are. The process in long and uncomfortable; the journey is exclusively within us, understanding will come in smalll chunks as we brave the debilitating habits of our mind.

  20. Megan - I really appreciate your reminder that action does not have to come right away. I do get impatient sometimes and it is such a relief to know that I can take my time and listen to my gut and see what happens. The decluttering project began this morning and I am happy to say that I feel much more peaceful already. You are so wonderful and supportive, thank you!

    Mary - The connection between things and ideas is amazing sometimes, isn't it? I am so excited to have accomplished quite a bit this morning with simply cleaning out my wardrobe. The peace that has washed over me is so encouraging. Thank you!

    Angelia - Thanks so much! I am having a lot of fun on this journey, finally, and I love the feeling of progress.

    Walter - Welcome to my blog and thank you for commenting! This process is definitely quite personal and unique to each one of us. It also takes a lot of time, perhaps is never ending. I hope that's a good thing!

  21. I haven't seen you in awhile - but I'm glad you're doing so well! You are totally opposite of me when it comes to sharing feelings and emotions...so calm... And I fly off the handle...it's refreshing, really...your serene-ness :)

  22. Jessica - So good to see you! I have been reading your blog consistently, just not posting as much. I'm so glad I come across as calm and rooted - it has taken some work. I enjoy your willingness to fly off the handle, actually. It reminds me to let go more often and stop being so buttoned-up. Thanks for stopping by!

  23. Hi Daphne,

    "Who am I" - that's a million dollar question and one I think we continue to ask all of our lives as we age, change, go through transitions and aging.

    When I was reading your post, it reminded me of when I didn't work for a short period of time (after working all of my life). Soon I became "the Mrs". and I felt I was losing who "Barbara" was. I ended up going back to work, and later went back to college, as well. Those two choices helped me to get my identity back, and aging helped too.

    You mentioned decluttering and I do agree, that does help. Even if it's as simple as cleaning out the junk drawer or a cabinet, for some reason the physical stuff can weigh us down.

    And talking about your feelings on your blog I'm sure has helped as well. Not only can you put it "out there", but others will share what worked for them.

    I'll keep you in my thought and prayers, Daphne.

    (((hugs)))to you.

  24. Barbara - It is amazing how identity is so connected to our surroundings and our jobs. I definitely agree that this will be a life-long process. Writing here and getting feedback from my readers has definitely helped. Thank you so much for your support and well-wishes.

  25. Oh, I so know this question and this struggle. I think we are both hopping along this journey in very similar ways. Your writing is just getting more and more amazing. You go girl! ;0)

  26. Kim - It's good to know that we're not alone in our quest, huh? Thank you so much! Your compliment means a lot to me.


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