top of page

Reconstructing my identity



By KIRRALEE NICOLLE

When I was growing up, I shaped my ideas of identity mostly on people I admired for their adventurous or courageous actions. I collected pictures of heroes while other children my age were collecting Pokémon cards.

While some of that natural tendency set me on paths I am grateful to be still following, the actions of many of my heroes eventually left me baffled, confused and unpacking the remnants of what I had once believed.

“Our limitations needn’t define who we are ...”

Whenever I found a new person to admire, whether they were a sportsperson, a pastor or a professional in some other area, I found myself throwing away all my previous ideals to adopt every value and feature they held. Not to mention, I tried out some strange hairstyles and hobbies! This was destabilising, to say the least, and it made decision-making on any important topic a constantly changing arena.

As I grew older, more and more people in my life betrayed or disappointed me. Again and again, I was lost in a whirlpool of ideas, grasping for new role models.


Gradually and thankfully, as I watched my heroes fall, I came to a new realisation.


Values and integrity


In the Bible, Colossians chapter 3, verse 12 talks about how God’s people are to be clothed with “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”. Those words have a lot more to do with who we are than our career or what kind of car we drive.

I grew to realise that identity is less about our roles in the world or level of privilege and more about our values and our integrity. What connects me with another person should not be about how many children we each have, what we do for work or how much money we have.


“My identity is ... more about how I use what I am given to best fit into the world and make a difference where I can.”

While we’ve spent our whole lives thinking such choices are within our control, in many ways they are not. Infertility is real. The cost of living is high. Sadly, in much of the world, factors such as where we come from, our skin colour, our gender and our health still affect the kind of work we can access and the kind of money we can make. This is not how it should be, and it is something to grieve and work to change.

However, our limitations needn’t define who we are, and I have come to believe that how we work within our limitations and use our unique opportunities is key to our integrity.

An unexpected outcome

One thing I thought I would never do is have children. Most of the role models I looked up to were childless, and the way I planned to live my life did not involve family. I was determined to chase goals that would make such a lifestyle impossible. However, life brings unexpected trajectories, and one of those, a happy relationship and marriage, led to me having children.

If I had chosen a different path, that would also be okay. But I had to confront my perceived limitations.

I had to come to terms with the fact that not all women everywhere naturally love everything about children – me being one of them – but that doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy raising my kids to be responsible adults and seek to build meaningful relationships with them.


As it turns out, I love being a parent! While I’m not likely to spend my spare time listening to parenting podcasts, shopping online for nursery decorations or reading books on sleep patterns – those things bore me to tears – I do love watching small people grasp new concepts and build their awareness of the world around them.


I’ve come to realise that my identity is less about what I set out to do, and more about how I use what I am given to best fit into the world and make a difference where I can.


While so many choices are out of our control, our character is something over which we have ultimate sway. I look forward to developing mine and surprising myself with who I can be.


Comments


bottom of page