The words I used to define myself are many and varied: Radiation protection scientist, principal investigator, researcher. Leader, manager, colleague. Wife, mother, lover. Vegan, runner. A non-drinker (just now). Extrovert. Good intentions, kind, easily riled. Not great at recycling, but trying. Happy, some of the time.
The words I sometimes wish I could define myself by, but never will, are things like: Nobel prize winner (ha!), an upstanding citizen, a good example, someone who gets things right. Faithful, honest, considerate. Someone who can drink with moderation. Happy, all of the time.
When I think about the words others might use about me, these words are often negative, or used in a negative, hurtful, way: Loud, opinionated, argumentative. Superficial, flippant, silly. Fat, ugly, not as young as I used to be. I know I’m not alone in having this quiet, mocking, internal voice, and in this being the voice that often speaks the loudest.
One way or another, we are constantly asked who we are. This is perpetually evolving. But why does how we think others perceive us mean so much? Why does it have so much power over us? I am some of these things all the time and all of these things, and more, some of the time.
Can I learn to be kinder to myself? In the end, I am who I am. I am me, and if I’m not hurting anyone I should never have to explain, justify, apologise. You don’t like it? That’s your problem!
If I say it out loud often enough, I hope I will come to believe it.