Monday, June 17, 2013

To Thine Own Princess Be True

"First I'm going to be a princess," she says haltingly in not-yet-three speech. "Then I'm going to be a mommy. Then I'm going to be a grandma." 

Then she adds for good measure, "Mommies wear snoods." 

A conclusion I made for myself recently is that personal identity cannot be based on something outside of oneself, or defined by others. Say, being a mommy; while yes, being a mommy is something one is, it is not one's identity. It is a role I aspire to achieve, but it is that: a role. It should not be, however, my identity.

Nor is my identity based on a spouse. Nor is it on my siblings, or on my parents. Hallmark cards sing praises to the mother, wife, sister, daughter. Yes, women can be all these things. Yet that is based on the external, on other people. 

Nor can one's identity be their career. Doctor, lawyer, real estate agent. I remember an episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond"; after thinking for years that his father had retired, his mother tells Ray that he was fired. Ray can't understand why Frank didn't tell the truth. Once, Marie says, men had their jobs and that's who they were. Being fired meant a lot more than just an end to a paycheck; it lead to an identity crisis.

Loving your job doesn't make it who you are. Identity has come from within.

What is my identity? Then things get complicated; it does not seem to be easily quantified. It is my beliefs. It is my personality. It is my ideals. Some may remain steadfast as time passes; others may change.

When my niece says she will first be a princess, I suppose that is the closest one will get to a personal identity. She isn't mentioning Prince Charming, which is all well and good. 
A princess, in updated Disney fare, is the master of her fate, who can wield swords and save the day (Star Wars was quite revolutionary). Frankly I doubt I would ever strenuate myself that far, but I like to imagine myself in chainmail. 
With sufficient eye shadow, of course. 

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