Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Missing Identity

For the most part I have considered myself to be fairly self-confident. Granted, everyone has their moments in adolescence when they wonder who they are and what their purpose is, and I am no different. However, I always had something to set myself apart from others.

I loved the scriptures as a teenager ( strange, I know) but I loved the stories and the teachings and in Sunday school, I knew all the answers and the stories. I felt special because I knew those things, and I loved surprising the teachers with how much I knew. ( Now I realize how LITTLE I actually knew but hindsight is always 20/20).

Maybe that was because during those years I was in podunk Idaho, but even in the huge cities in Japan, I felt confident. Maybe that was because I was a missionary and I knew I had a special purpose and I knew that the Spirit would guide us and Heavenly Father would protect us, no questions aksed.

But for some reason, in coming to Washington DC, I feel like I am experiencing an identity crisis.
I am just one of how many hundreds of thousands of people here? I am a mere peon in an office run by the Japanese government (though they won't admit it). People identify themselves differently here. " I'm Republican", "I'm a Democrat", " I have a Ph.D", "I'm going to law school" etc...

On top of all this, I have to figure out who I should be as a woman within the church. Part of me would really like to go back to school ( admid horrible fears that I will fail miserably) and while trying not to have heart attack at the thought of how much our combined student debt would be....

On the other hand, I also feel a strong push ( especially from Sheldon's mom- thanks) that we need to have children. I am actually excited at the thought of someday having children, but the time just doesn't seem right. And in this regard, I have found something interesting here.There have been some instances where I feel like I have been discriminated against because I AM NOT A MOTHER, yet. There is a certain mother, who, while friendly enough, seems to put a wall around her everytime I try to befriend her. She talks freely and spends lots of time with other "MOM"s, but because I don't have children, I feel like she is purposefully pushing me away.

In a sense I can see why over-identifying with one aspect of ourselves can be dangerous, as in Mom above, but what if you don't feel like you have a label that you can attach to yourself? I suppose that's not necessarily a bad thing. Knowing that we are children of our Heavenly Father and that He loves us should be enough of an identity, shouldn't it?

Anyway, I'm not quite sure what I wanted to say, but if anyone has any thoughts on any of the subjects on which i rambled, I would love to read them.


At 11/09/2005 09:32:00 PM,

CAT "CATHERINE" IS MY WIFE. SHE IS WONDERFUL! That's mostly what I have to say.

At 11/10/2005 02:20:00 PM,

I've been wearing a label that says, "trying to find my label" for the past 7 years. I looked in Russia, Utah, New York, Thailand, China and DC. Lately, I've begun to embrace it. I mean, just the fact that my wife is able to make sense of my garbled worldview is enough to get me up in the morning.

I think the one thing that has stuck out in my mind as I've grown older is how unsure people are about things. For instance, I recently had a conversation with my mom - a 15 year elementary school principal, YW Pres, RS Pres, etc. - who revealed that she has had serious questions about the Church and her role as a working mother for years. As far as I was concerned as a child, my mom was comfortable with herself and had an unwavering testimony of the Gospel (I'm sure that's what she wanted people to see).

Thanks Cat for being so honest. I often wish that we could express ourselves like this in Church and have a real dialogue about the difficulties we each face. Ideally, we could learn from each other and share experiences with each other in a meaningful way. Unfortunately there seems to be a stigma with going there and we are left with trite lessons, cliche participation and, in the end, I often feel like nobody really understands my life, or the things I do. (I'm sure being shunned by a "mom" wouldn't help either).

I guess that's one reason Chris created LYMA. That and, well, so he could propogate his crazy existentialist ideas as a "thinking reed."

At 11/10/2005 04:00:00 PM,

Doug's comment is much more profound than anything I have to say, but I just wanted to let you know that I totally understand what you're going through. I think the fact that our husband's moving in a direct line toward their careers right now makes it even more difficult because it only makes us more aware of the fact that we haven't gotten it all figured out yet (i.e. the role we plan to play in the work force, in the church, and in our homes). It's tough.

At 11/10/2005 09:21:00 PM,

Brigham Young:

As I have often told my sisters in the Female Relief Societies, we have sisters here who, if they had the privilege of studying, would make just as good mathematicians or accountants as any man; and we think they ought to have the privilege of studying, would make just as good mathematicians or accountants as any man; and we think they ought to have the privilege to study these branches of knowledge that they may develop the powers with which they are endowed. We believe that women are useful, not only to sweep houses, wash dishes, make beds & raise babies, but they should stand behind the counter, study law or physic, or become good bookkeepers & be able to do the business in any counting house, and all this to enlarge their sphere of usefulness for the benefit of society at large. In following these things, they but answer the design of their creation.

At 11/12/2005 09:29:00 AM,

It was so interesting that right after i read your blog, I had a talk with a friend of mine who said almost the exact same thing. She said when she was in her last years of the YW program and trying to get into BYU she felt that she couldn't show that she had a weakness. "We're supposed to be problem or struggle-free" she said. So I found it very appropriate that you mentioned how "trite" our lessons sometimes are. I agree.

Janelle- you and I are kindred spirits :) sigh.... It is so hard to figure out where exactly we fit into the whole picture of the family. President Hinckley says, "get an education" but how do you work that into family? Do you wait? Do you try to do both at once? It's mind-boggling. It honestly is. I was thinking about Eve the other day. What do we know her as? A mother. Hannah in the Bible- a mother, Abrahams wife- a mother. But- I don't think women were allowed to work back then, so there's not really any comparison..... :)

At 11/12/2005 09:30:00 AM,

Sheldon- Thanks for the quote from BY. Too bad I can't call the prophet directly and have him tell me what to do....

At 11/12/2005 02:26:00 PM,

"I was thinking about Eve the other day. What do we know her as? A mother. Hannah in the Bible - a mother, Abrahams wife - a mother."

True. But these stories were all written by men.

Of course, Abish is known for something else, but she seems to be the only one (Jesabel and Isabel excluded). Unfortunately, I think no matter where you turn, you'll find convoluted answers. Sheldon provided us with a great quote from BY, but there are numerous others that are less sympathetic. Even President Hinckley has told women to seek for education and leadership roles and yet remains atop the list of authors of the Proclamation. There is definitely good reason for frustration.

At 11/13/2005 09:31:00 PM,

I think it is no exaggeration that we are given "mixed signals" to a degree. I guess that's where personal revelation comes into play, along with that spiritual and very personal growth that while sometimes painful, is so necessary.




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