Searching for an Identity

I am watching my daughter grow and I see her searching for her identity. She is trying out a variety of sports that she never had the confidence to play before; she is beginning to find her own style of dressing; she is beginning to reflect on issues that a younger child never speaks about.

As I see her going through this process, I remember my own experiences. The search for my own identity peaked once I had finished high school and was able to escape the restricting confines of rules and expectations housed there. It was truly at university that I was able to discover what I believed in and what issues I could be passionate about. Within the free-thinking environment, I was able to grow not only intellectually but also in confidence and self-esteem.

When I married it seemed my own identity took a back seat for a while: it seemed to hide behind that of my husband’s, and later those of my children. For a while I lost myself; a loss I have noticed many women experience when they change their status from single to married. After a few years of marriage, however, I found “me” again – instead it was a “me” that encompassed the words “wife” and “mother”.

Moving to another country has also required another search into myself for who I am. As with each occurrence in life, I have found my identity has become more rounded and richer with each experience.

In what ways did you search for your identity?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

(Join me in the Five Minute Friday Challenge hosted by The Gypsy Mama. Participants write for 5 minutes with no editing, no over thinking, and no backtracking. This week’s prompt is: Identity)

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About Colline Kook-Chun

I am an educator, blogger, wife and mother. I enjoy reading, scrapbooking, crafting, photography, and spending time with my family.
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41 Responses to Searching for an Identity

  1. scrapydo says:

    I identify with you. Know the feeling of change for the best

  2. newsferret says:

    A year in the old South African Army made sure I had an identity.

    • Colline says:

      I remember seeing my cousins come back from that experience quite different from the young boys they had been when they entered the army.

  3. niasunset says:

    Nice written piece as always, I agree with you. Thank you, dear Colline, have a nice day and HAPPY MOTHER’ s DAY, with my love, nia

  4. aFrankAngle says:

    Identity is also tied to time and place … thus have different identities in different situations with different people. Meanwhile, enjoy your Mother’s Day weekend.

    • Colline says:

      Yes, your identity always depends on your situation in life in the moment of time. I have certainly noticed that in my own life.
      Thank you for your wishes – my children assure me that I will enjoy my day :)

  5. transitionalwoman1 says:

    It is a joy and challenge to watch our children grow and discover their identity. As we all grow and change our identity grows and changes too. We expand and develop and become the people God wants us to be, if we let Him work in us.

    • Colline says:

      We all have within us the potential to be as we were created. As you say, it depends on us whether we make the choices that will lead us there.

  6. Northern Narratives says:

    Nice post. It was also at university that I first found my identity. Happy Mother Day to you :) Judy

    • Colline says:

      I think university is a place where we are independent for the first time. We begin to take responsibility for our own learning – and are beginning to contribute financially to our future. It is also a time when we do not yet have the full range of responsibilities that adults have.
      I wish you a great Mother’s Day too Judy :)

  7. Sandra says:

    After four years of marriage and six months of being a mom, my husband and I packed up and moved from Canada to the USA. I went from being fifteen minutes away from my mom and dad to twelve hours. It was the best thing I could have ever done. Being the baby of the family I always allowed myself to take that role. I was forced to grow up. Find answers to questions myself, develop my own parenting skills, figure out how to be a wife, and how to lean on my husband instead of my parents. That’s is how I found my identity. It was like being a bird being pushed out of the nest for the first time to see if I could fly. Thank God I found my wings.

    • Colline says:

      Your experience has shown that our inner identity can only be found if we are truly independent of our parents. I had a similar experience: I went to spend a year in Europe (based in Paris) and it was there I had to sort out problems on my own (and in a language that was not my mother tongue). I grew up in many ways that year.

  8. Indeed. The more we are exposed to other environments and cultures, the more we enrich our life. I also find one can have many identities, and to feel comfortable with different settings, to be more receptive.

  9. Sandra says:

    Thanks Colline. I did it! It was super fun and rather liberating. Thanks again and I linked to your blog in the post.

  10. shimmeshine says:

    I can relate very well to you, I can see myself in my daughter, almost every time :)
    I agree, change is inevitable, and we change our identities with time, with all the new labels we get – a wife, a mother…….

    • Colline says:

      … and in the future a mother-in-law, a grandmother :)
      I find my life has become richer as more labels are used to define my identity.

  11. magsx2 says:

    As we move along in life, and our experiences changes, we seem to learn a little bit more each day, and I don’t think this stops at any given point, as we continue to learn new things about ourselves as time goes on. :)

    • Colline says:

      I agree – especially if we are open to learning new things from people we know and meet; and from the experiences that we have. And that is what makes life exciting!

  12. Leanne Cole says:

    You often post really interesting posts Colline, they are great. I find I often can’t wait to respond, I can be very opinionated, so I hope you never take offence to anything I say, just ignore me like everyone else does.
    My eldests daughters search for an identity was destroyed by someone in our lives and now she has to start all over again. She really isn’t sure about anything right now, but she has much help around her and she will find it, just a little later than everyone elses.
    My own search has been constant and I am still finding that I search for where I belong, do I belong and what will I be when I grow up. Thanks Colline, lovely post.

    • Colline says:

      I love it, Leanne, when people add their own thoughts – that what begins a conversation :)
      With the love and support your daughter has, I wish her the best in her continued search. In some way what she has experienced may now define her identity in an unexpected way.

  13. I think that if we always search for self-discovery at all the stages of our life, we will feel the feelings of our youth. Attempting to fit a square peg into a round whole has always been me..a polite rebel! I have spent my entire life asking why do we live as we do? Why are people, especially those in developed nations – not happy? Why are the numbers of those experiencing depression reaching epidemic proportions. What is it that makes people feel balanced, at peace and fulfilled?

    I always wanted the best for others. I enjoy seeing others succeed. But, in a capitalistic society, we are pitted against each other competing for jobs and economic stability. All companies speak of being a good team player, but, really I ask, what does that mean when everything we have been taught is based on competition?

    I have found my identity right where it always was…right here with me. It’s right there with you, too . Helping others and really being part of a team where all members are valued and the work they do together far exceeds what they could accomplish individually makes my heart soar. Especially when no paycheck is attached and no one is influencing the outcome or saying the budget is not big enough. It’s great to do some work – unpaid – where you can really bring your conscience along! It makes me feel connected with others and the universe in general. It makes me a child of the world!

    I love the work I do for the greater good that pays me nothing…but pays me everything I need. I go to work as a nurse and carry this same concept that sometimes seems to be in direct contrast to what a profit making center is attempting to accomplish – increase the bottom line in answer to their shareholder concerns. This pays my way through life and pays my mortgage and keeps food on the table for my family. But, when the day is done, I come home and look forward to the next rally, the next blog piece that might influence someone to think differently for the greater good of all society, the next meeting with others who think like I do…and my heart is right at home…peaceful, happy, content…fulfilled – knowing that my small contribution paired with anothers is making a difference in someones life.

    Making a positive difference in someones life is what I live for. If that happens just once per day…I’m doing great because they take that with them and it just carries forward and forward like a ripple in the pond after a stones throw – some small act of kindness..but it’s huge in the end..and it’s even greater for you too. It’s almost impossible to feel sadness, hatred, anger…when you are trying to make a positive difference.

    And, when you’re not feeling sad, angry, competitive, hatred…well there’s only joy left!

    • Colline says:

      How much easier it is, Darlene, to know what you identity is when you are working at something that you enjoy – something that helps your community at large. How often we link our identity to the work we do and to the size of our pay cheque. As you suggest, we should also link our identity to the volunteer work we do, to the actions that we take everyday to help others. Focusing on a part of our lives that is within our control can only bring a more positive aspect to our lives than if we rely on others for our validation.

  14. Rana Armoush says:

    A very well written piece, dear Colline! I think every new situation we face in life, forces us to look deep into ourselves and try to rediscover our identity. As a child I was rather calm and peaceful, as a teenager I truly became rebellious, artistic and sarcastic. As a grown woman, a wife and a mother I’m going through the process of discovering a new feature in my identity everyday. Blessings.

    • Colline says:

      The identity we show to the outside world may be different but I believe that deep down we are the same. I am sure you still have within you the calm and peaceful Rana you were as a child. Often adolescents act differently in their search for who they are. As an adult you may still have the aspects within you that you had as a child, but now with added traits.

  15. I like to think that I have found my identity are a very convoluted life of three marriages , 20 years army , 12 months Vietnam and New Guinea and now my Chileana wife to slow me down and three new grandchildren to enjoy and watch as their own identity emerges.Wishing you a beautiful Mothers day Colline
    Aussie Ian aka Emu

    • Colline says:

      You have had a life full of experience, Aussie Ian, that many of us cannot imagine. I am sure your new grandchildren are a great blessing to you – and I am sure you will enjoy experiencing this new aspect of your identity.

  16. caseyhoward says:

    Love this post Colline :) I am a recent graduate (undergraduate) and completely agree that I found my identity when at a university, as well. Scary, but exciting at the same time. Something that everyone experiences at some point in their own lives.

    • Colline says:

      Sometimes more than once. I remember feeling the same on the first day teaching; the first time I moved into a place of my own; the first day of my marriage; the time I moved to a new country. And yet all of these experiences have made me who I am today.

  17. eof737 says:

    Moving away really brings that one up and it can take time to find one’s place … Eventually we build a community or find a hobby and the process of reconnecting begins.

  18. rommel says:

    Yikes, I never ponder much about this. I am someone who is somewhat, in larger percentage, receptive to change. I guess I always embrace the old me so much. I think I ought to er? change that. Thanks for the good read.

    • Colline says:

      I guess for some people the reaction to change is more obvious than for others. Being receptive to change is a good thing I think – so maybe it is something that should not be changed?

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