“How important is your identity?
What makes you… YOU?
What defines you? What are your interests, your hobbies, your passions? What lights a fire in your soul? If you had to define who you are, what would you say?
I feel like you hit a wall somewhere in your 20s. Life becomes WEIRD really fast. Some people have graduated and are nurses, accountants, or are on their way to law school. Some are still figuring out what they want to do with the rest of their lives (a daunting, nagging thought to consistently be present, may I add). Some have moved across the country and have homes of their own. Some still live at their childhood home and have meals cooked for them by their family every night. Some are married. Some are drunkenly basking in the hookup culture. Some are hoping to settle down soon and some are allergic to the thought. Some, like myself, have children of their own.
With these new, huge, life-altering changes come life-altering perspectives. These changes readjust, remold, and restructure who we are, who we have been, and who we knew. These life milestones we go through bring growth and growth inevitably brings change.
Change, for me at least, is not an easy thing to adapt to. Pre-baby, I knew who I was. I had an idea of where I was heading. I knew I loved my boyfriend, now promoted to husband. I knew I liked to have F-U-N, I knew I enjoyed traveling, and I knew I would get where I needed to be someday, but that day was not today.
Imagine the shock I endured when I found out we had a tiny human en route. I knew life was going to be different, but I didn’t realize just how different. I failed to realize what moving on to the next chapter meant. I was about to meet a completely new version of myself and say goodbye to the old me (well, partially but I am getting to that part).
Even though I read every book, blog, and pamphlet available, I still was not fully prepared for what becoming a mother entailed. I did not realize just HOW MUCH it would turn my life upside down. It changed my outlook, my mindset, and my thoughts. It changed my interests, values, goals, and dreams. Now, this can be said with any huge life milestones as well. When you face change, it is going to shake the ground you walk on. It is up to you to learn how to deal with your earthquakes.
My first BIG life ‘earthquake’ was afoot: the arrival of my daughter. Life was AMAZING but at the same time, it was not. I lost myself. I did not understand who I was anymore, what I liked to do, or what made me happy. My name was Mom, not Jess. My hobbies included changing diapers, breastfeeding, and taking a million pictures of the CUTEST BABY EVER (Okay, maybe I am a bit bias). I ate, slept, and breathed motherhood. It consumed me whole and the Jess I loved was silently falling through the cracks, begging me to help her back out.
This type of situation can happen in more than the process of becoming a parent. You can lose yourself in a job, to a relationship, by moving and leaving friends behind, or even to the stress of trying to figure out your future. But you can always, always, always be YOU again. It just takes some work.
As I started to become more and more aware of my loss of identity, I was yearning to be my old self again. I missed that girl, but she was gone. I was desperately trying to grasp on to her for comfort. I could not stay out till 4 a.m. or pick up and leave the country when I wanted like I used to. I was accountable for more than myself now. The new me felt like a stranger. I felt like I had no idea who this chick was or even if I liked her and if I didn’t, what was I going to do about it? I knew old parts of me were still alive. I just needed to re-find them and redefine them.
The first step at meeting and knowing the new me was acknowledging I existed, I mattered, and I was important too. I know this can be a huge challenge, especially as a mother. You cannot take care of a baby, a career, or anyone else if you fail to take care of yourself. It started out as small things like taking longer showers, buying a good coffee, and putting on clothes that made me feel more put together. This meant changing from the ‘bad’ sweats into the ‘good’ sweats. I am still realistic over here.
Those small intentional self-care attempts brightened my spirits so, so much. I then started to experiment with the activities I used to do, that I used to like. I re-tried soccer, snowboarding, thrifting, going out with the girls, reading, writing, binge-watching my favorite shows — the list goes on. I went to church again and reestablished the healthiest relationship I had ever had with God. I truly felt that was my pivotal point in feeling myself again. I was starting to feel at home and at peace with the new me. I liked who I was becoming, I was proud of this new girl I was.
At this point, I was on a good path but still was not 100% transitioned from pre-baby Jess to my new self. I found myself scrolling through VSCO and Pinterest for inspiration on a version of motherhood I wanted to embody. Do I still get to be fun like I was? Is dressing hot okay or is that like weird? Do I want to be the mom who spends every Sunday morning basking in cuddles with my toddler? Or do I want to cheers with my friends on Saturday night? Do I want to stay in and love my baby or go out and live my life? Both. The answer is both. The answers will always be BOTH.
I can dress up and have cocktails.
I can spend Friday night at a bar with my friends.
I can go to church.
I can play on a summer league team.
I can go to a concert.
I can go to mommy and me group.
I can go to the farmer’s market.
I can go snowboarding.
I can blog.
I can play baby dolls with my daughter.
I can go to the movies and watch 50 Shades of Grey.
I can go to the movies and watch Secret Life of Pets 2.
I can visit cute coffee shops, baby in hand.
I can spend Friday night cuddled up watching Moana with a toddler.
All while being a great mother. You can be a mom here, there and anywhere. That is what moms do. We do it all. You can be you. You NEED to be you. You have to be more than your job title, relationship status, and family role.
I cannot provide value as an individual without being an individual. There is nothing to your job, relationships, or family if you are not your own person with your own hobbies, goals, and dreams. You absolutely need your own skills, opinions, and thoughts. I encourage you to get to know YOU better because you are important.
Sit down with yourself today. Ask yourself, what do you like to do for fun? What defines you? What are your interests, your hobbies, your passions? What lights a fire in your soul? If you had to define who you are and what you enjoy, what would you say?
Ask yourself, what makes you YOU?”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jessica Edmisten, 23, of Ohio. You can follow her journey on Instagram here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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