Identity

I've been thinking lately about identity and the way people see us, and how we see them. This was partly inspired by reading a friend's blog who was talking about how she teaches piano students and arranges music and things like that. I realized that most people who have known me for the last few years would probably not think of me as a musician, or even musical. Yet all through high school I thought of myself as "musical" and it was an important aspect of my identity. I was in band for the first two years of high school and I also played the piano. I played for Young Women's as well as for extra things like baptisms, enrichment nights, etc. I also spent nearly a year playing piano for sacrament meeting in the Spanish-speaking ward that shared our building. For a few years I planned and coordinated an annual sacrament meeting program that the Young Women put on (it was modelled on the Primary program with musical numbers and talks). I also loved playing piano solos or accompanying people for talent shows. When I got to BYU, I discovered that most other people I knew were "musical" too, and my help was not needed as desperately in the ward. Since then I've rarely had the opportunity to play the piano (except as a missionary) and I find that I miss that part of myself. I especially love accompanying people who sing or play other instruments, so my new goal in the next year is to find us a cheap piano so I can start teaching my children and we can sing together as a family. I want my children to feel like we have a musical family.

I find it interesting that many people I know don't see this side of me at all, and I realize that there are sides to them that I don't know or see either. Our identity shifts throughout our lives as we focus on different things we need to do. I feel like I'm still growing into my role as a mother and it's sometimes strange for me to contemplate the fact that I am as important to S-Boogie as my mother is to me. I think of the love and admiration I've felt for my mom while growing up, and our complicated relationship, and it scares me that my own daughter looks to me in the same way. The other day we were having some frustration and she said "mom, you're always mad at me". And I felt really bad because I think it does seem that way sometimes. I don't want her to feel like her mother is always grumpy, but I'm also equally glad that she won't have the "my mother is a perfect self-sacrificing saint" problem either. I hope she realizes that her mother is human and is trying her best to learn a new role. When a child is born, a mother is born too, and I'm realizing that it takes a lot of struggling to grow into motherhood. Hopefully my children will learn from my example that they can always forgive themselves and others, keep going, and change for the better. I know that's what I learned from my mom and all the different things she has been and done in her life and I try to keep that long-range perspective as much as I can.

Comments

Em said…
I don't know what to do with myself with regard to this very idea...most of the time I feel like I can't devote time to all of the parts of myself without neglecting some other important aspect. I've started running again, but I always feel sort of guilty about it because I could be at the park with BeeBoo...I like your post.
Silly Marie said…
FoxyJ, I can really identify (hehe) with this. In High School, choir and academics were my life.

I TOTALLY felt the same when I went to BYU. In high school I'd been top of my class and super musical. In college I was just average at both it seemed. I tried out for women's chorus twice and never made it. I had a major identity melt down after my freshman year when I got a 3.52 (GASP!!) and didn't make the choir. (Insert my China trip here.) I think only a handful of my BYU peers even knew I was musical at all.

While I teach piano now, I had about 7 years where my life contained little to no music. Buying a piano off Craigslist was awesome. We only paid a couple hundred bucks, so rest assured, you don't have to shell out thousands. There were a couple of people in our ward who sold theirs for under $100! (After I'd already bought mine.)

I feel a big loss that I don't sing anymore except in the church congregation.
Emma said…
I agree. Most people don't know the things I did in high school, because I don't devote much time to them anymore. I wish I had been more disciplined and learned to play the piano better. I hated practicing and cutting my nails (I still keep them long), so my parents let me quit after 3 years. I promise to take lessons again someday. This is also the first ward I haven't participated in the ward choir. I miss it, but I feel like I don't have time, and if Aaron is home it's the only time I get to spend with him without the distractions of work, and the house etc.

I feel like I get angry too quickly. David asked me why I get made at him more than I do at Timothy. I felt so bad. The boys are so forgiving, but I don't want them to think that I'm always mad, because most of the time I am really happy. I need to be better about showing them that side more.
Great post!
Desmama said…
I liked the line about how when a baby is born, a mother is born too. I think that's going to give me a lot to think about. Mother's Day was great, but I still snuck out of sacrament meeting early under the guise of "having to set up my Primary classroom" when I really just hate standing up and getting a flower when I feel so uncomfortable sometimes as a mom. Don't get me wrong; I love my kids more than anything, but I feel bad for them sometimes. Does everyone have things they wish they did better? I sometimes think there's just something that I'm missing that other moms know or something. Anyway, good post. Lots of food for thought.
jules said…
I LOVE what you said about a mother being born, too.

I was also the piano player and choir singer growing up...then I didn't play much until now in Primary. I was a computer teacher in college. I also taught seminary. Now I'm a mom, housekeeper, and friend. Life is interesting that way.
"When a child is born, a mother is born too." That reflects so perfectly why the first several months after my first baby was so difficult for me. As I've accepted my limitations, I've come to see that with all my mistakes toward my kids, I love them so much that I think things will be okay in the end.

I was center of the drama/debate universe in high school. This is a thing that nobody since has really known about me. And while I miss it, I am always grateful for the gifts that stayed with me as my focus shifted from performance and competition to teaching and cooperation.

I have loved my 30's for the simple fact that while indentity still shifts, I have finally become comfortable with my core self. As I move on with new hobbies or talents and old ones fade, I have finally started understanding at the heart of it all what really matters.

I just love your blog.
Julie said…
We could use a good piano player in our ward! We bought the piano we have for under $200 off craig's list when we were living the Bay area, so you should keep an eye on that after you move. (Hint: Don't buy it before you move and then pay to move it mulitple times like we did!)

I was greatly scarred musically for a long time after my rejection experiences at BYU (still am a little bit.) It's nice to be back in a choir again.
Katya said…
It's funny, because my current ward knows almost nothing about me, except that I play the piano (and am sorely needed in that capacity). I don't even think of myself as terribly musical, since I didn't study music in college (except for one organ class) and I come from an extended family with a lot of musical talent, so I don't consider myself a "real" musician.

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