Vs. Self Identity

woman and baby happily pose for selfie

I’m a mother, daughter, sister, aunt, girlfriend, boss and student. I’m also a photographer, a columnist and a millennial.

My pronouns are her/she/hers. I identify as a Black female.

These are just a few ways I self identify.

When I decided I was going to write this column, I was completely interested in writing a column for college students who were also mothers. I wanted to research and write about things that would help mothers on campus know their resources and to motivate them to keep going.

Then I wrote my first column and I got feedback from mothers who are students, mothers who aren’t students, students who aren’t mothers and people who aren’t mothers or students. This is when I realized that my audience couldn’t be defined simply by motherhood.

Being a a mother is only part of my identity. It is not the only thing that I am.

Life is about constantly trying to figure out who we are as people, what our purpose is in life and where we fit in in this crazy world. We spend years in grade school developing and molding into who feel we are supposed to be.

We first learn this as what type of kid we are. Do we like sports? Do we enjoy school or dislike school? What do we want to be when we grow up?

Then we grow up and we wish we were kids again, back when answering questions about ourselves was so simple.

Just last semester I noticed that most, if not all of my professors started our first class meeting off by letting us introduce ourselves in someway and expressing what our pronouns were, whether it was out loud or written down on paper. This to me was an important step in the right direction for our campus, because it shows that our professors were paying attention and keeping up with an ever-evolving community.

The way we self-identify is important to our existence, and people understanding that may make life a little easier.

We as young adults are still finding ourselves in a place where we have so many opportunities to be whoever we want. Some will accept us for who we are, and some won’t, and that’s okay.

How we see ourselves and having the confidence to be comfortable with who we are will help allow others to do the same when interacting with us.

I say this to say that no person has only one identity. Who we are may change based on who we are encountering. I’m a mom, and I interact differently with my friends who are moms than with my friends who aren’t.

As young adults we may still be struggling to figure out who it is that we are exactly. Adults older than us feel that we should have it all together by now, forgetting that when they were our age they probably were nowhere near as together as we are, no matter how much they would like to convince themselves they were.

We may also be hard on ourselves, expecting ourselves to be further along in life. We are young – not saying that we should not be responsible – but we are still learning. We still have a long way to go. We have a whole life ahead of us to make mistakes and “get it together.”

Find yourself through the things you love to do, the things you are good at, and the things that make you the happiest.

Your identity is what you want it to be, not what everyone else wants to see.