The other day, my one-year-old daughter Ella and I snuggled up on my bed for our morning routine: watching Disney YouTube videos and singing along to the inspirational ballads. But then something happened.
‘I am Moana‘ came on. The tune starts slowly as Moana almost gives up on her quest to save her island. But then her grandmother’s spirit appears. To draw Moana back to herself, the grandmother describes her: a daughter who makes her family proud, a girl who loves the sea, a woman who fights for her people. She then asks Moana who she thinks she is – and that’s when the anthem swells.
Moana sings the roles that make her her: daughter of the village chief, a descendant of the seafarers, a self-traveller who has traveled the farthest of anyone in their tribe. A girl guided by her grandmother and her own inner voice. The song ends with her proclaiming, “I am Moana!”
Witnessing the three-minute clip always gives me chills.
Lately I’ve been drawn to the idea of staying true to myself because I’m in a place where I’ve been questioning everything. The clothes I’m wearing (can I be a mom and still wear crop tops?). The road I put on makeup (should I keep my glam look or simplify my routine?). The hobbies I invest time in (should I pick up the guitar again? will I ever finish my reading list? I’m going to make an English garden!!!).
Maybe my doubts come from being a new parent trying to hold on to my pre-baby self and exploring who I am as a mother. Or maybe it’s because I turn 30 in December and am evaluating my life decisions. Am I the person I thought I would be?
Trying to clarify my identity to an elevator pitch is not new to me. Sometimes I feel embarrassed that I’m not 100% sure of who I am. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that getting older will always lead to new places and more digging to find out who you really are.
Over the years we move through identities: child, student, mentor, friend, ex-friend, sibling, co-worker, lover, life partner, parent, grandparent and so on. Each role comes with learning curves and personal interpretations. So how can we not fall in and out of touch with ourselves?
In foggy moments, I’ve found that identifying my simple pleasures helps ground me:
– Slow folk love songs
– Immigrant stories
– Resting my head on my mother’s lap
– Wearing gold hoops
– Rereading books about family and friendship
– Roast chicken and potatoes, with a side of crusty bread and a glass of white wine
– Run in the early mornings when I can smell the dewy grass
– Hour-long phone dates with my friend Angela
– To help relatives find the positive when they are in complicated situations
– To sing old church hymns about joy and hope
These personal joys are ropes that bind me to my true self. They calm and inspire me. Once again I am able to see what I love about myself and what I know to be true, like how growing up a single parent can be difficult and beautiful, and that Greek yogurt with strawberries and honey is the perfect breakfast.
Maybe one day I’ll reach a point in my life where I know 100% who I am, although I’m not sure if that’s even possible. But I know that over the years, as life changes, I’ll always have the things I love to fall back on.
What about you? What are the moments or people that remind you of who you are? I would very much like to hear.
(Photo by Stocksy/Akela)