Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Shades of Me-aning

Have you ever given much thought to your identity? I’m not talking about the one that con artists can steal and use to get new credit cards, or even the name change that may occur when a woman gets married or a child is adopted. I’m talking about all the you’s that exist simultaneously.

I have realized that there really are a lot of me’s.

I’m a different person to lots of different people. To my parents, I’m still a child. To my children I’m a parent, and I’m probably even a slightly different Mom to each of my three kids. My professors know me as one of their students, yet I, too, have students to teach. Among my students, you’ll find a few who’d say I’ve touched their hearts and changed their lives and some (only a few, I hope) who are so angry over grades earned and deadlines not extended that they’d probably cross the street to avoid me if we met downtown. Childhood friends know a Stephanie that my current colleagues do not, and my friends from church see me differently than my new friends at Ole Miss do.

My husband, who probably knows me better than any other person, doesn’t even fully know the me I see in the mirror. But that’s not really so surprising. Some days I think I see myself clearly, and other days even I’m not quite sure who I truly am.

It’s intriguing. It’s not that I’m a hypocrite, or that I purposefully present different sides of myself to different people, playing games, keeping or revealing secrets according to some master plan. Is my identity what I present to others or what they draw out of me? Is who I am always internal, or is it all about context? or some combination of the two?

Some parts of me carry over into every me--my worldview, my personal value system, my connections to the people closest to me. Yet other parts of me reveal themselves or exit the scene, depending on the person I’m with.

Maybe this is just one of the many things that make life such a wonderful adventure. All in one lifetime, I get to be multiple me’s.

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