It's my 36th birthday today so I hope you'll forgive a bit of self-indulgent navel gazing.
In The Truth About Transition I shared bits and pieces of my personality to explain why change and transition are so difficult for me.
In today's post and the next (or near to next) I'm going to talk about my personality a bit more, something I've wanted to write about for a long time.
During the winter season last year (I mention it on last year's birthday post) I spent a lot of time in self-evaluation and reflection mode. I think this was brought about by a few factors:
- The natural course of personal development through my thirties. After the intense years of raising littles I was discovering myself all over again.
- My heart's desire to prepare for my children's young adult years when I know the relationship dynamics will shift and I need to be ready for that.
- The creative urge to grow professionally beyond the career of homemaker, my main gig for the last 15 years, and subsequently needing to know who I am beyond mother and wife.
- Our impending move that I knew would change the course of our lives and trying to understand who I might be in that new context.
Some might call what I did digging deep and indeed, that's what it has felt like.
Anyway, during those months of reflection I journaled quite a bit of my discoveries (about myself and others) that I hoped to publish someday at FIMBY. Now is that day. A birthday gift to myself.
It's a bit personal and self serving. But you might find parts of it fascinating in a "isn't Renee strange" kind of way. And I suspect Type A readers will identify with quite a bit of what I write, though I don't think personalities are as simple as one type or another.
In my follow up posts (since this post grew longer than intended) I will share links and resources that might help you gain insight into your own inner workings. I'm not so self-serving after all!
As a Young Woman
Way back when... when I was just a young woman studying in university - meeting my life's love and experiencing the freedom (and responsibility) of adulthood for the first time - understanding my personality type didn't matter much to me. I have always been fascinated with how people learn, including myself, but personality per se did not matter much to me.
I am an outgoing person, a natural born leader. I'm gregarious and laugh loudly. I get things done. I'm committed and responsible; opinionated and hard working. I like putting things in order. I'm also direct and honest. I have a strong internal compass, know my mind and am not afraid to speak it.
If you find any of this surprising (if you've been reading long enough you're probably not surprised) you should know I filter a lot of my outspoken-ness in this very public space. Though it bubbles up from time to time. I wish I could edit my speech the way I edit my writing. Ah...but I'm getting ahead of myself in this story.
So when I was a young woman I had a "you can take me or leave me" and "what you see is what you get" attitude. I wouldn't say I was cocky, in the athletic jock fashion. I truly cared about friends and family and like to think I was loving and welcoming. I was just really self-confident also.
Somehow, in spite of myself, I snagged a keeper who wooed me with his calm, steady nature, his sparkly blue eyes, who loved me exactly as I was. Still baffles me to this day.
All I know, is that during my late teens and early twenties as I came into adulthood, I didn't give much thought to my inner workings or the inner workings of other people for that matter.
Either people were like me, (in which case we might not get along!) or they weren't. And if they weren't, that was ok but I didn't feel the need to dig deep into understanding it all because I was a confident young woman, who was admired (by at least some or those that mattered - in my opinion!) and unconditionally loved by family and my husband.
And then everything changed.
Becoming a Mother
Funny how motherhood changes us. For me, having children has been the biggest character changing event in my life. Moreso than marriage (An aside: Once I consciously stepped back a bit and encouraged my husband to express his own person more, marriage became a character changing relationship in my life also!)
My love for my children opened up my heart in ways I had not unexpected. A challenge for someone who wants to know what to expect.
There's not enough space in this post to go into my whole journey of change as a young mom. Let's just say motherhood un-did and is continually un-doing my attempts at perfection. Thank goodness!
I'm almost ashamed to admit it now but I started mothering from a "this is my life and you will fit into it" mindset. There's whole books on parenting geared toward this mentality. I was used to approaching life this way. Along the lines of "take it or leave it".
Over the course of three children, who ripped open my body to be born and whose love ripped open my heart, my mentality changed to I surrender to this calling of motherhood.
I surrendered my body, my plans, my quest for perfection, my sleep. Oh, I surrendered my sleep. All for love.
It blows my mind that as we open our hearts to love, by choice or by circumstance, we are changed in so many unexpected ways. To be honest, it scares me because love is out of control, illogical, unpredictable and loss of those you love is inevitable.
As my children started to really come into their own personalities I wanted to truly understand them as individuals. My sincere parenting desire is to help them reach their full potential and I want more than anything to have a loving and open relationship with them - always.
Love will do that to you. Change your attitude from "take it or leave it" to "please never leave".
And so started, in earnest, a journey of discovery. Discovering who my children were so I could better parent, relate to, teach, train and educate them. In the process of course I discovered more about who I was, learning how to be a better partner to my husband also.
To be continued...
PS. The photos in this post describing me as child are from a family memoir Two Beats in My Measure written by my mother. I write about that memoir, and journal keeping in general, in Because Story Matters.