Earlier this summer, Maggie Stiefvater posted a Q&A on Instagram about identity and being true to yourself. I loved the things she said, which got me thinking a lot about my last few years. During that time, I’ve transitioned from a person who knew herself well, even if she wasn’t always terribly self-confident, to someone who has no idea who she really is anymore. The last three years have been a time of breaking down and rebuilding from the ashes. I’ve discussed this at some length in the past and don’t want to go into it again. The point is that despite being very confident about who I was three years ago, my confidence and identity both shattered and scattered in the time since then. I’ve been trying to rebuild ever since, with little luck.
It’s this last part that made me think a bit harder about things. Why has this been so difficult? Why do I keep losing threads as I try to sew myself together? And I thought back, and realized that I’ve been constantly barraged by people who don’t like who I am and want to change me in some way. There have been people who accused me of being selfish or spoiled because I’m a stay at home mom rather than a working mom. People who accused me of being manipulative because I don’t hide my feelings well. People who accused me of being possessive or “cult-like” (seriously) because I wouldn’t leave my husband and let go of all claim to my kids. All these accusations came from people who wanted something from me that I wouldn’t give – either I wouldn’t get a job when they thought I should, or I wouldn’t keep living in a place that made me miserable, or I wouldn’t give my husband and kids to another person who wanted them, etc.
I’ve spent most of the last three years having my self-confidence and sense of self ripped apart, trodden on, and beaten down, until I’m fighting not to loathe myself as much as they loathe me. And none of this because I’m an inherently bad person or making bad choices. I’ll never claim to be perfect but I do okay. This is all because they want me to be someone I’m not, and that’s not okay. I’ve fought against it, because I know it’s not okay. But even fighting, it’s very, very difficult to hold together that internal sense of identity when so much of the world around you is trying to force you to change.
I am so DONE with people who think they can dictate my life and my choices, and with people who pile on abuse in order to bend me to their will. I am DONE trying to placate them, or meet them halfway. I am who I am, and if they don’t like it, that’s their problem, not mine. As long as I’m not hurting others, and I’m looking after myself and my family, then my choices are my own, my life is my own, and my personality is my own. I don’t need to change. I’m just fine the way I am, and I’m just fine with the self-improvements that I choose to undertake. The last three years have been an exercise in Becoming Someone Else To Make Everyone Else Happy, and I’m so done with that. Now, it’s time to become Amanda again.