Describe yourself…

How do you describe yourself?

Is it about your roles or jobs, your appearance, what you like or dislike, or something else? Some descriptors are easier to use…mother, wife…They are based on fact, rather than anything else. But even then some descriptions still have values attached to them – ‘stay at home mum’, ‘housewife’ anyone?

In my everyday life, I often use other people to describe myself; ‘P’s wife’, ‘P/E/L’s mother’. Or I introduce myself as ‘Alice – as in Alice in Wonderland’. Somehow it’s as if I don’t have enough of an identity on my own. I hate needing to describe myself, like in writing my ‘About Me’ page. I like to hide behind something, normally sunglasses!

Once I attended a corporate event with my husband (for his work), introducing myself as ‘P’s wife’, Alice. I then got rather embarrassed when the person I was introducing myself to called me out, saying I was a person in my own right. Maybe it shows how naïve I am and how little I get out, but for me my husband was the reason I was there so it was fair for me to say this.

But deep down, I know the person had a point.


We are all someone.

What is identity and where does it come from? Identity is what make you ‘you’, a distinct individual. As with many psychological concepts it is hard provide concrete answers about how identity develops. But it is clear that it is partly about you in relation to others. If lived in an isolated way, would we feel the need to describe ourselves?

Identity connects the internal and external selves that we have. Description, values and perceptions. Starting my blog was about beginning to link those parts of me together.

And yet, I still find it uncomfortable to describe myself as a writer; every time I type it I cringe, fearing its pretentiousness. Like selfies, it is drawing attention to myself. Imposter syndrome was something I felt when I first became a mother, as a newly qualified staff nurse. I know that it largely diminished over time, and I know it will happen with the ‘writer’ title.

Who are you?

New identities take time to adjust to; I haven’t know anyone who hasn’t felt the huge change you feel once your first baby is in your arms. Isn’t it right that when you first start a new job, you don’t assume you know it all? I even took several years and a name change to become accustomed to being a wife.

To anyone that feels they don’t know who they are, they don’t know what their identity is; it will come if you let it. We need time to be ourselves in whatever form that may take. Clarity will happen if we allow time for discovery and exploration. Some people just do that quicker than others.

Follow what gives joy, with passion, and you will blossom into what you are supposed to be. Sometimes one part of you engulfs the rest. You can find balance. Feeling comfortable in yourself comes from recognising and accepting yourself.  I overthink things a lot, but it’s who I am; I hear the worries I have and then I let them go. Our actions mean that we become who we want to be – I keep writing and publishing even when the doubts creep along.

Our lives describe us, but don’t define us.

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9 Comments Add yours

  1. Rachael says:

    “Our lives describe us, but don’t define us.” Oh yes, I love this post! How I describe myself usually depends on where I am and the references I think will be useful to the person I’m talking to…. I usually start with ‘I’m Rachael’

  2. Rachael says:

    I didn’t mean to hit send yet! Sorry…. But like you, in many cases I’m ‘Mushroom”s mum, Mr B’s wife, a coach, a writer (took me a while to own that one, too!) but I feel it’s ok to start with these parts of our identity as an introduction, and take it from there… After all, we are all of these things… And then some! What do you think..? 🙂

  3. caramckee says:

    I was in the kids’ school yesterday, giving poetry workshops. In several rooms I was introduced as X’s Mum, and I smiled and said that yes, I am X’s Mum, and Y’s and Z’s too, and I’m also a writer. I told them some of the things I’ve achieved in my writing career, which I wasn’t going to bother doing, but I was glad I did. One kid commented that they never knew that actual writers lived in our town, so I felt like I made something seem possible. That said, I have no objection to being known as someone’s mother – that’s the best thing I’ve ever done, but not the only thing.

  4. Kamsin says:

    Interesting post. I hate writing self descriptions too.

    The concept of identity and the ways we define ourselves, and others define us fascinates me. It’s something I often come at from the point of view of language as I teach English as a Second Language, so the ways people acquire a new identity as they learn a new language is of professional interest to me. Many people say they feel like a different person when speaking a different language, especially ones where the culture is very different.

    I should say I taught ESL. I’m a stay at home mum now, and I writer. I still struggle to use that word too, so I’m practicing. Lol.

    But for me identity is not a fixed thing we need to find but an evolving and changing thing. We don’t stay the same. And often claiming the new identity we want for ourselves is an important part of the process when we want to change something about ourselves.

  5. suz says:

    I think the person at your husband’s event was extremely rude calling you out on this and you were perfectly justified in your introduction as it explained your reason for attendance. OK, maybe you could have said ‘Alice, Mr P’s wife’ rather than ‘Mr P’s wife, Alice’ but you shouldn’t have to watch the political correctness to such a degree – you were making small-talk at a party, not meeting the Queen. I hope you told this person that it was obvious you weren’t going to get along and moved on.

    We all have multiple name-tags which alter depending on the people we are with. (so we can be mother, daughter, sister etc). They form part of our identity but they don’t change the fact that you are you. You still have brown hair, are a writer, or, in the case of the person at your husband’s corporate event, are a self-important prat.

  6. maddy@writingbubble says:

    I love that final line! I never really know how to describe myself and it definitely alters with context. I often struggle to call myself a writer but, funnily enough, on the phone to my car insurers the other day they asked for my occupation and I said “Writer”. The guy I was talking to said “Oh that’s different to what we’ve got here so I’ll have to send out a document confirming it” so I’m expecting a formal document displaying that title any day! Honestly, I think I call myself a mother more than anything else though. It feels like a huge part of who I am at the moment. This post has really made me think! Thanks for linking to #WhatImWriting xx

  7. I have found this hard ever since I left teaching… For ten years I was proud to call myself a ‘teacher’ – it might not have been all that I was, but it encapsulated so much of what was important to me (social conscience, intellect, creativity) that I was happy to wear that label. I still sometimes refer to myself as a teacher – all of the things that label meant to me then still apply – but I always have to qualify it when I do. Essentially since embarking on this motherhood journey my identity has become so much more obviously multi-faceted – I am a mother, a wife, a writer, a councillor and many other things besides… It was actually this quandary that was the catalyst for me to start my blog – as an attempt to work out just who ‘Sophie’ is. And I’m still working on it! But I guess that’s probably a good thing… xx

  8. Marija Smits says:

    “Follow what gives joy with passion and you will blossom into who you are meant to be.” YES! I definitely agree with this. Although it may take a lifetime to do so… Thanks for your thought-provoking post. 🙂

  9. Nicola Young says:

    Lovely post Alice. I agree, it’s hard to redefine yourself sometimes, particularly when you leave your job to bring up the children, then one day, you find you are branching out from that role into something else, but you’re too scared to fully admit it because it’s been so long since you had another role to motherhood.

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