Episode #19: Why do we struggle with who we are?
Hi. Welcome to this week’s episode of the Samantha Leith Show with moi, Samantha Leith. This month, we’re frolicking around that wonderful part of us, known as our identity. One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is to understand exactly who you are and to love it. There’s no right or wrong answer, no right or wrong identity. Only you. So let’s have a look at what makes us, us.
Why do we struggle with our Identity?
This quest for enlightenment about who we are often leads to internal and external struggle. We’re all someone’s child, so I’m sure you’ve got memories of some heated arguments with a parent or guardian that was based on a difference of opinion about who you are. I remember a very heated argument with my mother when she discovered I was a lesbian. Okay, I chickened out and got my sister to tell her, and that’s a whole other story. The problem was she truly believed this meant I’d never be a mother. I was letting myself down. Yet, I knew in my bones that one day, someone would call me mom.
So after much screaming, I pulled over to the side of the road, and I asked her, I may have been yelling, to get out because I was sure as shit not a disappointment because of my sexuality. This sexual identity changed me over the years. And yes, one of the best parts of my existence is that I am mum to the gorgeous Elodie. For your info, mum did get over it, got on with most of my partners, male and female, and lived long enough to have a great relationship with my daughter.
We get conflicted as we go, especially if we ask the big questions, and that’s what’s important. We don’t simply take what were those parts of us that we were developed by the world around us as gospel. Sure, you’re really smart, and all the people that influenced you led you to become a high-flying corporate attorney. Only you’re not fulfilled. Why? Because that identity that you wear was probably not based on your desire at all. Maybe you spent your adult life as a heavy bearded biker, and your struggle has been with that deep knowing that you really identify as a woman. Thankfully, thank God, the universe that we now live in it’s a world where those struggles don’t have to continue for most people, and you can proclaim who you really are to the world.
Sometimes people can even latch onto this struggle, and that becomes part of their identity. We all know someone that slips into victim mode at every available opportunity. Why? Because it’s part of their identity. It’s who they have become because of the path they’ve walked. We’re sponges, us mere mortals, absorbing that which is around us. So occasionally, we soak up the crap, assume it’s part of us, and can’t get it out of us until we have a really good scrub at our core. Not sure how I came up with that visual. But I’m sure if you’ve ever tried to clean one of those sponges with all the gunk from the barbecue, you know exactly what I mean.
It’s natural, and it’s normal to struggle at times with who we are. It’s a challenge, and this not having a strong sense of self can lead to anxiety, insecurity, and depression. When we don’t have this stable sense of who we are, we can feel a disconnect, often seeking validation and security from the world around us for the answer to who we actually are.
Anyone for a Midlife Crisis?
Does anyone really, really want to have a midlife crisis? Probably not, but we have them. We can have them as late teen crisis. We can have a middle twenties crisis. We can have a seventies crisis. It’s those moments where we’re like, “Ahh.” We just want to scream from the rooftops, we don’t know who we are. Something may have triggered it. There may be a divorce. You may have lost a job, moved countries. There may have been a death in the family. And you question everything, and it’s okay. And you know what? If you want to go and ride a motorbike and get dolled up in leather, that’s okay too, because it’s probably part of this journey that you need to go on in order to find out who you really are.
But when you have these moments, go back to the questions, go back to that knowing of who you are, those 100% ones you know to be sure, and stick to them while you’re experimenting with everything else around you. Oh, and don’t burn any bridges while you’re at it.
Being who we say we are
Who am I anyway?
Am I my resume?
That is a picture of a person I don’t know.
What does he want from me?
What should I try to be?
Those words are from A Chorus Line, and I love it.
When I think of this song, and I often do, it makes me ask the question because it’s both true and not. Our resume, all those bits that we’ve done, are part of who we are, but it doesn’t define us. We do try to mold ourselves to be what’s needed or desired of us at certain times. But again, that doesn’t define us. I think one of the most important questions there is, what should I try to be? And only you can answer that, my friends. When we’re holding true to ourselves or parts of who we are, we walk the planet differently. There’s a bop in our step, an ease with which we fit into our lives.
Some may say this is even when we’re in flow. Maybe it’s a brief moment. Maybe it’s you 99% of the time. If so, I bow down to you, you legend. I’m 47, and I think I’ve only really known this ease for the last few years after what I call the numb years. Don’t get me wrong. There’s always been moments of absolute integrity with who I am, but probably not enough. Sometimes in these, I know who I really am moments, we can have our ego take over and can almost become aggressive in our shouting our truth from the rooftops.
In some cases, like the fight for marriage equality, equal rights for women, and many, many more, this fight was needed and still needs to be loud and proud. But sometimes, we can get a little carried away with ourselves and become bloody obstinate when having a discussion about a part of our identity that we hold firm onto, and it doesn’t match the viewpoint of someone we’re engaged with.
When someone asks you, “Who are you?” How does it make you feel? I know I stumble sometimes, and I think I need to make it sound like an elevator pitch. “Hi, I’m Samantha Leith. I do blah blah, to help blah blah, with insert issue here.” Other times I say something dull like, “Oh, single mom.” I may be a single mom, but it is not who I am. The question makes me question myself sometimes with an unease that rises in my belly. In order to be who you say you are, you have to understand it. So if you head to the freebie section on the website, you’ll see the worksheet that will take you through some of the big questions.
Being a chameleon
When I was about 18, I sat in a car, and I had a list of people I was friends with, people in my life. There was a list of my nerdy friends, my singing friends, my gay and lesbian friends, my really smart friends, my family. And I sat in this car, crying with my manager because I thought I was, I don’t know, maybe had multiple personality disorder, or I was a little bit schizophrenic because who was I that I knew all these different people? Was I pretending to be a different person for all of them?
He encouraged me to look at the parts of me that were the same for all those groups and to think of it as, “No, I was just showing different parts of myself with those people.” And that’s what I want you to do. We’re not pretending. But what we like to do is, in different situations, pull out those parts of us that suit the situation we’re in. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Now, 30 years later, I think my ability to tweak the parts I’m showing to any room anywhere and any people is my superpower. I should have one of those masks up the back.
Thank you so very much for watching this week’s episode of the Samantha Leith show. I hope you’ve loved it. Please head on over to Samanthaleith.com/freebies to get the worksheet for this month. And don’t forget to spread the love, by subscribing, pointing, liking, sharing, and everything else you do with the video. And remember, however you define your identity, you are worthy, you are enough, and you are extraordinary.
🎶 I Am What I Am Songwriters: Mark Owen
© BMG Rights Management, Universal Music Publishing Group
🎙️ Produced by Samantha Leith / Michael Allen Vocals by Samantha Leith
🙏 Special thanks to Stonewall Hotel Sydney for the stage!