Who Does She Think She Is?

At thirteen she filled in her first personality test. Who do you think you are? Tick a, b or c. She was sure the crumpled teen magazine would expose the truth. Her pen hovered over the options. What would the person I’d like to be say? If you were to scratch the surface of her skin, you could almost see her nerve endings twitching with anxiety. Too many freckles. Her knees were knobbly. She was never the best, she desperately wanted to be the best, just once. She was sure she was nearly good enough – nearly. She pretended not to care, it was only when you looked her in the eye and asked a direct question that her voice would shake, her eyes searching desperately for an exit strategy.

By twenty, she’d become an expert at pushing the self doubt from her head to the bottom of her stomach for just enough time to be deceiving. Jobs were gained at the first interview and offered on the spot. Six months later she’d move on and repeat the process in a messy concoction of self sabotage and apathy. She knew she wasn’t meant to be there. She just wasn’t sure exactly where she was meant to be.

At twenty three, she realized that time was her luxury, life appeared to stretch on for endless miles. Days went forever. Weekends were lived by the minute, which made them last for weeks. Conversations with new and old friends continued throughout the night. Confidence grew with debate and conversation. She was okay, which was better than nearly good enough. She began again and once, maybe twice, she was convinced that she was on the right path. The other times, the darker times, she concluded that she was underserving. Who did she think she was?

By twenty five it was becoming clearer, she was still making mistakes but she could see them coming. She watched them happen. Why do I always do that? I chose that. I don’t want to be that.

By twenty eight she had the answer. The right job, good friends, there was peace. She loved breakfast with girlfriends dissecting first dates over coffee, dinner in groups and weekends at the markets. “If this is how it stays forever – I’m okay with this. This is good” she said to a friend. “I’m okay with this”.

There is no forever. There is always change. And sometimes it will come with a force and speed that has you running towards a noise that you don’t recognize or understand, you just know you have to be there. Change can be both exhilarating and wonderful, but it can also leave you lost and unsure until you find your way toward the comfort of familiarity.

She was briefly lost. She stumbled.

At thirty five, as a mother of small children she looked in the mirror and was almost surprised to see her reflection. She was sure she was invisible. Wasn’t she meant to be doing more? How did you do more? She needed to sleep. She needed to laugh, a raucous thigh slapping, I have no oxygen left and there is no noise coming out of my mouth laugh. When was the last time she did that?

She asked herself is it possible I’ve spent half of my life trying to work out who I am, only to spend the next half trying to reclaim who I was?

And then finally, she realized, it was irrelevant. She was better than okay. More than she ever thought she could be. She would continue to change and evolve. There would be more mistakes.

There was no category. No a, b or c. She would remove the labels. Wife, Mother, Home, Office. She was the same woman no matter the role.

At forty she felt that maybe she could finally claim the title.

She had become a woman.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00016952176301597208 Kelly Exeter

    Nice. Very very nice. And timely too for me 🙂

  • http://www.brightandprecious.com/ Deb @ Bright and Precious

    I love this! I really REALLY love it. Can relate to so much of it. This is my big 40 year too. x

  • Reluctantexpat

    I could probably send this to every girl I know. Love it. Thank you xx

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06124224647059797583 kim at allconsuming

    Oh my GOD, this, THIS.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07503841496399417535 Carli (Tiny Savages)

    As a 36 year old mother of small children I could really really use a thigh slapping, oxygen depleting laugh. Love this x

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02893083162115591562 Catherine Rodie Blagg

    I’ve got goose bumps and a lump in my throat!

  • Anonymous

    Great read! Im at the early 30s, small child stage 🙂

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03869928507704160403 Kim-Marie

    Beautifully written x

  • http://theheadmastershandbag.wordpress.com/ theheadmastershandbag

    Yes! I was 40 last month. I wish I’d known earlier to ‘accept’, that being me was better than ‘good enough’, that I didn’t have to portray a self-confidence that I didn’t feel inside.
    I know I am as much of a part of the problem, as I am the solution. I joined that gravy train of being a different person on the outside than I am on the inside. Hugely confidence exterior, I have never not been offered a job I interviewed for, I’ve received promotion after promotion and finally reached the top. For what? To still feel that someone, someday is finally going to realise that they’ve made a monumental mistake and they will realise I’m not the person they think I am! But I created this image of myself because it looked to me like everyone else ‘knew what they were doing’ …..so I did the same. And then people looked at me and thought, she knows it, feels it, she has arrived.
    I perpetuated the problem.
    But, now I’ve stopped! I realised, a few months before turning 40, that I just wanted to feel comfortable with who I am, and to stop feeling like I am on a journey without a destination. So now I look in the mirror and SMILE, and finally I can see who I am. And I like it.

    As ever, Kirsty, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Brilliant blog.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00730557217264985056 manycoloured-days

      a bit scary how universal this experience is….. somehow it’s very comforting to realize one’s not alone…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10437498511254202582 Sarah-Jane

    Wow – excellent post 🙂

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10422112561804877205 Hopeless in the Nederlands

    Great blog as always… On my 40th birthday I stood on a beach in Greece and cried at all the time I wasted worrying. From that moment on I chose to stop stressing over things that may or may not happen, and take risks with life. Which is probably why I’m two stone overweight (I’ll risk one more slice of cake), and permanently broke (Yes I’ll risk giving up my business to become a trailing spouse).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05302489120654085490 CATE PEARCE

    Brilliant. I had a thigh-slapping, tears streaming, gasping laugh on Saturday night (unfortunately over dinner in a crowded bistro at the pub, but that’s ok), and at 47, I now have many, many of them.
    Come on in and join me , the water’s fine 🙂 x

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07937706773267639646 Madam Bipolar


  • http://www.theculturebroker.com/ Sanda Ionescu

    Turned 40 a couple of years ago, but am still riling and fighting. Only small, occasional glimmers of acceptance. And the laugh keeps you from crying…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17830126186468062827 Margit

    What’s the hassle? Life was good is good. Just keep learning looking living.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07285709209953730580 Fraudster

    Great post that rang bells. My moniker is Fraudster/fraudulent teacher because I always felt I was pretending & might get caught. Everyone else seems so righteous & self-assured. I was getting the jobs but felt I was tricking people. Lately, aged 55, feel I should change my moniker to ‘don’t give a flying’ you-know-what. Wish I could have convinced my young self of this.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17675971818550682692 Two Point Five Kids

    Really really love this, just in time for the big 40 next year with two little boys as well.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12590311970938503722 Eileen

    Wow! Amazing!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11937511046069347576 edenland

    This is bloody gorgeous and beautiful and heartwarming and heartbreaking.

    Love it. Love you.


  • http://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/ darlenefoster

    This is an amazing post. It took me a long time to accept who I am. This post needs to be shared with women of all ages.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10673014424525900380 Always Home and Uncool

    You have arrived at your destination. Congrats.

  • Anonymous

    Oh my I cannot share this enough thank you for putting into words so much of how I feel.

  • http://sarahwaldin.com/ sarahwaldin

    WOW this is an excellent piece of writing Kirsty. thank you so much for speaking the truth on behalf of us all. sharing and reposting in the extreme.
    love and light xx

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for this Kirsty. I’m catching up late but you don’t know how much I needed to read this today of all days. I’m turning 40 next year, does that mean there is still hope for me?

  • Callmebubbles

    Thank you for this amazing post. You may have just saved me $$$$ in therapy 🙂