“You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis. You are the all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
Todd and I have been talking lately about our next car. Like the responsible ISTJ he is he managed to pay off his car loan early. I think close to a year early actually. So having not had a car payment for quite sometime and the recent addition of a large dog into our home he has started thinking about the next vehicle and what makes sense. He has decided we need a size upgrade so when he is ready he is going to look at SUVs. I must admit a piece of me is jealous.
It’s not just that he will get to drive an SUV while I am stuck in a car (I have never liked cars since being in a bad accident when I was 14). It’s the fact that I already know when the time comes for me to get another car I will be getting a minivan! It is what makes sense for us though. By the time I am ready for a new car we will either already be one child in or at least ready to start having children. When I was in high school my cousin and I always used to say we would never be “minivan moms” we were going to be the cool moms who drove SUVs. Well uncool or not I have grown up and watched my girlfriends struggle with baby seats in the back of their SUVs and cars plus at times not having enough room for all the extras you tote around not to mention trying to fit additional people in your vehicle. I realized it just doesn’t make sense.
Todd and I were talking about minivans and my silly ideas about them. Believe me, I know they are silly I do not need to be told. What would be more ridiculous though is not getting a minivan when the time comes because somehow I have attached my identity as a person to the car I drive. Or I allowed my ego to get in the way of what makes the most sense for my family. Anyway, Todd says Volvo makes a minivan so at least I have that. Half kidding, I do kind of love Volvos.
This whole idea of feeling less than because of the car I drive got me thinking bigger picture about my identity, about individual identity in general. What do we think of ourselves? Where does our self-worth stem from? How does this compare to how others view us? Are the two ideas in line with each other or are they incredibly skewed?
For example, They say the clothes make the man, what do my clothes say about me and how much do I let what I wear speak for me?
I think my style is feminine, relatively conservative and comfortable but always put together. I will usually pick a colorful flat over a heel to save my feet but I am not a t-shirt and jeans girl.
So I wonder what kind of first impression I give? What I always strive for is approachable. And in thinking about it I do identify with what I wear. I am not proud of it but I can honestly say I don’t feel as much like myself running around in a t-shirt and jeans, I actually don’t really own any t-shirts. I acknowledge that there is a degree of superficiality in allowing my mood to be affected by what I am wearing but I do care about how I represent myself in public. While I accept that this makes me superficial on some level I also feel it is about self-respect though and possibly even being respectful of those around me.
Let me elaborate a little, if I know I have a meeting with someone I will dress accordingly. It shows that I care, showing the person I am meeting with I take them seriously therefore have shown up put together. Not to mention in terms of the work world most companies care about how the people they hire represent them. I realize when I am out in the world I am not just representing myself but others as well. That means something to me.
When it comes to my identity, I do not want to be defined by material things ultimately. My car, clothes, jewelry, phone. I have never been into status symbols etc. I also don’t want to be solely identified by the roles I play in life.
Mother, Social Worker, Wife, Daughter, Sister, Friend. I have talked many times about wanting to be the same version of myself across the board, striving for authenticity. My hope is that as I go through life I am able to stay true to who I am in all of these different roles and that come across to those I interact with. I realize my children will only ever really thinking of me as their mother but I hope as they get older when they think of me it is more than just “Mom”. I hope my affection, support, empathy and compassion shines through.
I feel this way about all of the roles I will play in life. I don’t want to just be “Jill the Social Worker” or “Jill, Todd’s wife”. When people think of me I hope who I am transcends just the title I hold in their life.