And I should add blogging to the list below.
For some time I’ve had a post brewing in my head about distorted self-perception… perhaps I’ll take a stab at it now.
The day before we headed out on our Christmas trip I joined a friend at the Y for a Step/Sculpt Fusion class. I’ve been meaning to try out a class at the Y for sometime, but have been in a bit of rut between a strength training workout on their machines and cardio work on the treadmills or the road. I haven’t had the guts to break my rhythm or pattern by trying out a class because it was astounding that I, at last, had a rhythm or pattern… and… I didn’t want to try a class on my own. Well, I broke my rhythm/pattern in the last month of the semester, working out hardly at all, so… why not give it a go when a friend asked if I joined her? And so I did.
Neither of us had done a step class before though she had spent a lot of quality time with aerobic d.v.d.’s so she was a bit more up to speed than me. We were front and center as we were the first to arrive which meant I had a relatively unobstructed view of my form in the mirrors that stretched across the wall in front of me. Frequently when looking at myself I saw a woman out of sync with the instructor and other participants, but what I consistently saw was an unbelievably thin woman who looked like she belonged there. I do not mean that I looked “too thin,” rather, I mean that I looked far thinner than I imagine myself to be most of the time. I also do not mean to suggest by this that I think I am fat, I do not. I have been maintaining below my goal weight for nearly a year and a half now and am happy where I am. But on this day in the gym, and occasionally when looking at certain pictures, my breath is taken away and I think “Really? That’s me? That doesn’t look like me.” I don’t know when I’ll ever have a mental image of myself that matches the actual image of myself. I’m not sure what it would take to arrive at such a thing.
But this is not the only instance of my self-perception being out of whack. The tag line for this blog is “On my way to becoming a scholar and a mother…” I created this blog as we were moving south so that I could begin a doctoral program, and in the second trimester of a long desired pregnancy. Several responded that I already am a scholar and a mother. I smiled and thanked them for their affirmation, but felt the tag line appropriate… well… I haven’t changed it… it still seems appropriate… I feel, somehow, like I’m not yet a scholar nor a mother… this is absurd, on some level, as pretty much my entire existence these days is scholarship and motherhood… but… maybe it is because I was becoming both at once, neither identity feels fully formed or secure. I know I feel I do neither justice even as I try to do both. In fact, I’m certain I give motherhood the much shorter end of the stick because I have such an unbelievably giving and present husband who serves faithfully as primary caregiver to our daughter. But… saying this does not mean that I think I’m a bad scholar nor than I think I am a bad mother. I think I’m decent enough in both roles… I just don’t feel that I own either identity. And this feels as silly as not feeling as thin as I am.
I had a voice teacher in college who shared with me that he used to have major struggles with breath support. He worked at it diligently in his practice sessions and never felt he was making any progress. In his senior year of college his teacher gave him a particular piece to perform because he was the only student with the breath support to handle it. “Me?!!” My teacher declared incredulously. “Yes, you. You have outstanding breath support.” “I do?” He was shocked.
Maybe when we’re working really hard at something, over a long period of time, we just can’t see what we’ve accomplished. May I find ways to see more clearly in 2011.