Know Who You Are and Happiness Will Follow
Do you know who you are? Have you thought about it? Do you even think it’s important to know who you are? I chose the picture of two happy children for this article because childhood is the time for us to explore and discover, so we know who we are when we go out into the world. I envy people who, at the age of seven know what they want to be when they grow up and they become that person. I think there are very few of them, but they’re out there.
How culture influences us
I spent half of my adulthood trying to be someone who I could never be. Why did I do that? I got married very early and started a family. Feminism wasn’t on my radar. I loved being the mother that my mother wasn’t. I loved the traditional family.
Feminism charged through the 70s with a blinding torch. Women were supposed to reject all of those domestic chores and frivolous interests. The liberated woman wouldn’t be caught dead baking a cake. We were supposed to find a fulfilling career. My husband wanted me to find a fulfilling career. He wanted more money coming in.
Okay, so I’ll become a go-getter and bring tons of money in from a fulfilling career. I obviously was letting the media and my husband do my thinking for me. It’s hard to become who you were meant to be when you get married three days out of high school to your complete opposite. That’s another story.
A therapist once asked me, “Brenda, have you ever thought of accepting who you are?” I didn’t answer that question, but my head was spinning. No! Absolutely not! I don’t want to be this person.
It’s understandable, I thought that way. At the time, women and men were told they could be anyone they wanted to be. We were told that in elementary school. Men were being told to be sensitive, and women were told to be like men. It was all very confusing.
It was a time of transition for both men and women in first world countries.
Realizing who I was at the age of 50
I had a breakdown at the age of 50 and had to retire on disability. I was tired of trying to be someone who I wasn’t. Then one day, I had an epiphany. I started thinking about the things that made me happy, and it wasn’t a fulfilling career. Here’s what I came up with:
- Accepting that I’m an introvert and somewhat of a loner
- Sunshine and warm weather. It makes me happy.
- Painting and drawing
- Being single
- Driving and going on long drives
- A good drama on TV
- Meeting a friend for coffee and having a long conversation
- Talking on the phone to friends and family
- Reading nonfiction
Things that don’t make me happy
- Being married at this point in my life. I was married for 26 years. I don’t make a very good companion now, and I didn’t when I was married.
- Cold weather
- Working for someone else or with people. I’m not a people person.
Putting it all together
The most important thing I carried away from this exercise is that it was the simple things in life that made me happy. They cost either nothing or very little. I could live a simple life and be happier than I’d ever been. I didn’t need to live like everyone else.
I started a pet sitting business and an educational business. Both of which supplemented my disability retirement nicely.
Who are you
If you don’t know who you are, try the exercise that I did. List the things in life that make you happy and the ones that don’t make you happy. If you’re still young enough, you can use the knowledge to make better choices about a life partner, career, or even the company you keep. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble in the long run.