By Jen Lee
Everywhere I go, I meet women who are redefining themselves. Many are leaving a career behind—some are working toward a known next thing, others are still searching for what's next. Some are saying good-bye to paths utilizing college degrees, others couldn't take the moral compromising of their previous industries any longer. All of them are asking these questions: Who am I? Who am I in the transition time, and who will I be on the other side?
I had a redefining season just over a year ago when my family relocated to Park Slope from a Denver suburb. I transitioned out of the business world and stepped into a new expression of myself: writer.
Many of us have journeyed thus: through long, steady, life-as-usual times, and then, suddenly it doesn't fit. It doesn't work. Life is the outdated hair style that must go. Now.
What launches these flurries of redefinition? Is it having a milestone birthday (30, 40, 50)? When I talk to friends of mine who are older than I am, they say that other people's expectations hold less power over them as the years go by. Or is there something about becoming a mother that causes us to see ourselves newly? I realized that if I wanted to teach my daughters to be brave, they would only really learn by watching me take good risks, by watching me celebrate when they paid off and watching me survive when they didn't. Maybe knowing our children are watching us causes us to live differently.
Other times, it seems like a slow, steady build-up of encouragement has to accumulate before we can cross the redefinition threshold—enough desire for the self to come is needed to give us the ability to say good-bye to a self whose time has gone. The final nudge might be small, but all it has to do is tip the scales.
Precipitous events like bereavement can remind us that time is short, and planning to do things “someday” might be a luxury we can't afford. Knowing this is our only shot at living the life of which we dream or imagine kicks many of us into gear.
I think we know who we are all along, and we forget to listen to ourselves, to trust ourselves. The people around us, the world around us, practically yell out who they want us to be or what they believe is possible. That inner voice can have a difficult time competing. Lucky for us, it's much harder than that to silence, and though it may be reduced to a whisper—it is a nagging one.
I am encouraged by every redefining woman I meet. They remind me of what is true, of what is possible. I am growing, they say. I am learning. I am fluid. I am many things. I am still emerging. I am not just a past, but a present and a future. I am many good things yet to come.