You are so much more
Previously published in the Hughson Chronicle-Denair Dispatch
Upon a Google search, Wikipedia stated “One’s self-concept (also called self-construction, self-identity, self-perspective or self-structure) is a collection of beliefs about oneself. Generally, self-concept embodies the answer to ‘Who am I?’.”
In my self-concept, I look at a self-painted self-portrait of my own ideas of what makes me the person I am, my likes and prejudices, the type of person I have been and who I will be as the days wear on.
It is not a mirror because a mirror reflects what is really there. As a child, they said to me, “you’re too sensitive.” Childhood statements often become internalized and we can find them our self-talk, the words we hear in our thoughts and personal judgments.
I may have been accused of laziness as a child. If I have only washed the laundry, vacuumed the floors, schooled the children for three hours, fed them three meals, and provided for their unique-to-them daily needs, I think, perhaps, I have not accomplished enough because I sat and read a book (about grammar!) for an hour (or two).
Self-concept paints the portrait of whether I was generous or a good friend and whether I am likely to be so when the opportunities arise again.
It can be less important, as well. As a child, my family listened to country music, so I did as well. In junior high, I hit the rebellious road to listen to B93.1 in all its alternative glory (“alternative to what?” my mother asked).
I thought I was a tomboy after being a girly girl wearing dresses all day. Then I found I really liked doing the feminine thing again. Adolescence was the season to answer to that question: who am I?
Ideally, we settle the question.
Or thus we think.
The question is only settled when we stop living. I was a stay-at-home-mother. Then I was a working mother. I liked designed. I was a life coach.
The world of our little family rocked a bit and I became a medical mom, began to love San Francisco, to feel passionate about art, branding, and business. Goodness, I became a journalist.
And now folks, I ride horses.
That is, twice I rode a horse.
It does not seem to fit. It is the love of a childhood passion in which I read the Saddle Club books, the breed encyclopedia, watched Black Beauty, and rode horses. This great love persisted for two years.
Well, for health and happiness, I took a lesson. It felt strange and childlike to “take a lesson” in anything. A workshop sounds much more grown-up. My 8-year-old is perplexed. Isn’t the lesson for her?
And then I love it. Where in my life does this fit? Where in my concept of who I am now am does running my hand down the neck of this large animal fit? I, who hardly pet our outdoor cats and do not generally hold our chickens, held daily by our little kids, who would rather not be snuggled by your dog.
Are there rules in your self-concept that seem impossible to break because they are the rules?
I don’t like animals.
I love farmhouse style.
I don’t wear sandals or shorts or sleeveless blouses.
I’m not good at drawing.
I’m the serious one.
I’m the silly one.
I’m the faithful friend no matter what.
Our society loves to scratch away the rules.
Wear skirts without pantyhose.
Where black and blue together.
Let your wood furniture be different finishes.
Your reality is what you make it.
There is a natural law and a moral law, and there are some things that, friends and I were apt to say, “are not a salvation issue.”
Yet we make them into rules and laws that govern who we are and what we will try.
Parenting blogs will say not to box our children into stereotypes, but what do we do for ourselves? Rather than dictate the paint, can you look at the self-portrait and think, “what can I discover here?” Like little children, there may yet be untapped potential or unexplored hobbies or atypical interests left to discover.
What will you uncover this week?
You might just find yourself riding horses.