Remembering Who We Are: A Method of Self-Discovery

In the face of life change we can come to the realization that we don’t know who we are.  As we face mid-life we may discover that who we are has been defined by our career, children, and a plethora of things that may or may not have anything to really do with us.

We realize we have to figure out who we are.  How can we navigate life change if we don’t know who we are?  How can we fulfill our life purpose if we don’t what the purpose is in our life.

We begin a journey of self-discovery.  Reading books, taking classes, talking to friends, working with a life coach, mentor or going to counseling.  Some people may decide to cope with alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography or other self-destructive behaviors.

What if we just remember?

Instead of going on some mystical journey to discover who we are, what if we seek to remember who we are.  This would require some time, and quiet contemplation, but has the potential of producing better results.  Instead of looking out, what if we look within?

As I have begun to do this I have found more answers during mid-life than when I was seeking outside help to define who I am.  I have learned more about myself than I ever would from all the self-help books.

Who Am I?

I think I know.  I don’t know, yet, what that means for my future, and how this knowledge affects my career transition, but at least at the end of the day I have a foundation for understanding who I am.

This all sounds stupid I admit.  How in the world can you not know who you are.  To be honest I am not sure how this happened.  I got married.  We had four children, and navigated the journey of raising them, establishing careers, buying a home, and growing up while we did that.

Something happened as our careers matured.  They took over our lives.  Our careers became who we were.  I wasn’t Marcy, I was a nonprofit leader.  My husband wasn’t Bruce, he was a manager.  We became enthralled in our work, and came home exhausted and lost.  We did the best we could to be good parents, keep up the house, and survive.  We, as individuals, got lost somewhere.

When I left the career that defined me, I suddenly didn’t know who I was.  When some of those kids we raised left, my identity was lost.  How did it come to this?  What happened to Marcy?  How do I find her again?

Figuring all that out is a mess.  There is no better way to say it.  For me it’s crying, it’s contemplation, it’s worry, it’s a mid-life crisis, it’s trying new things, and getting rid of old habits.  It’s something I am really looking forward to being over.

I told a friend recently, that when I was in my 20’s I was going through the same thing, but didn’t know it.  I didn’t know who I was then, but I thought I did.  I thought I had a bead on life, that I knew everything, and knew exactly what was to come.

In mid-life, you don’t know who you are, you know you don’t have a bead on life, you know you don’t know anything and you dread what is coming.  Oh how life has changed.


I started riding a bike again.  I loved it as a teenager.  I realized it wasn’t just a teenager thing.  It’s something I forgot that I love to do.

I love writing.  I remembered that I used to write poems as a teenager.  I stopped during my maturing/ messing life up years.  I am writing again.

I love books, book stores, studying, and journaling.  I never quite lost that, but I forgot how much it means to me, and is a part of who I am.

I remember that it’s vital that I get out and enjoy nature.  I need it.  It encourages me, and eases my mind.   Nature refreshes my soul.

I remember that I love to travel, and seek new adventure.  I remember that I have let fear and misplaced priorities get in the way of my heart for new places, and new friends.

I remember that I love to decorate and create beautiful spaces.  I stopped doing that.  Perhaps that’s why it feels like a part of me is gone.

If we can remember who we are then we have a foundation to grow on.  Remembering is something we can actually do.  There is no magical experience about it.  We just have to take the time to contemplate, to remember.

Once we remember, we can then grow that foundation, and add to it.  You know who you are, if you will but remember.

Marcy Pedersen

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