Tuesday, December 22, 2020

On Identity

I've been thinking lately about identity and why people identify themselves the way they do . . . And what I want to say is that I am glad I had the parents I did. AND I'm glad I attended the church I did. Let me explain:

  1. My parents did all kinds of things. I often saw my dad reading thick books in our library/study. He sat in there for hours reading and thinking. I also saw him sitting in his office at Oklahoma State University, surrounded by books that looked much heavier than the ones in our house. I saw him play basketball, saw him laugh with friends, heard him whistle golden oldies, watched him work in the yard, and went on walks with him. My mom often read, too, but she read in her cozy bed. While my dad read non-fiction prose, my mom read mysteries and thrillers. I heard her sew clothes and wedding dresses and watched as she built a successful greeting card company all by herself. I watched her apply make-up in the car and marveled at her ability to talk to anyone and everyone. I heard her whistle, too, but she preferred music of the 60s a bit more than the 50s hits my dad liked. She introduced my sister and me to Hollywood classics, and she treasured art from the Impressionists. She also liked science, and I remember saying goodbye to her at night, when she left to work at the hospital as a nurse's aid.

    Both my mom and dad had varied interests and by just being themselves and living their lives, they imbued in me a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world around me. I never thought of my mom as "just a mom." I thought of her as a mom, an artist, a performer, a business owner, and a woman who just . . . got things done. Similarly, I never thought of my dad as "just a dad." I thought of him as a dad, a speaker, an athlete, a psychologist, and a professor. They didn't have one identity; they had several. They didn't put their kids first; rather, they lived their lives and let their children come along for the ride. I didn't appreciate that until much later in life, when I realized that not all people have the advantage of having such fascinating parents. I rarely thought I couldn't do anything because I had parents who did nearly everything. My mom spoke up when she needed to. She knew when there was a problem with the car, and she knew how to talk to the mechanic behind the counter. My dad was the early-riser who made breakfast and waved us off to school each morning. Their sometimes "gender-bending" interests, can-do attitudes, and constant reading essentially gave me a blank slate. I never expected a book to be too hard and never assumed I couldn't do well at math or science. Perhaps more importantly, I never thought of myself as one thing. In my mind, I could be many things: a daughter, a good student, a scientist, a writer, a baker, and a great friend.

  2. The first song I learned in church primary was "I Am a Child of God," not "I Am a Mormon." Similarly, the heading in the first lesson of Preach My Gospel (a missionary handbook) is "God is Our Loving Heavenly Father." Look up any Church manual, and I'll bet a hundred bucks that the first lesson is always about how we're children of God and He loves us. This may not seem like a big deal, but to me, it's a crucial distinction. Being "Mormon" or "Latter-day Saint" is just one small part of my many-sided identity, but really, at the heart of myself is just one thing: I am a child of God. Put simply, I am a person. That's it, really. I am a person and everyone else on this planet is a person, and we're all interested in lots of things. I guess in that way, I'm just a person who is a daughter, who likes to do well in school, who is interested in science and writing and baking and who likes to make and maintain friendships.

Why does this matter, you ask? Especially now? And why did I feel the need to share it here? Truth be told, it was inspired by a friend's Facebook post I took issue with, but more than that, I suppose it matters to me now because the world seems a bit fractured at the moment. I wonder . . . Would we all do a little better, if we remembered that everyone else is just a person, too? Trying to make it in this world while holding on to the things they know and cherish? I think so.


Thing I'm thankful for: Post-it Notes. They really are one of the best inventions ever. :)

3 Comments:

Blogger Lexia said...

That was great, Sara.

5:19 PM  
Blogger cardlady said...

Thank you Chickadee! You are an awesome writer and story teller! I love you!

5:28 PM  
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