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who am i?

Oh Joy

Oh Joy

Last week, I traveled to Vancouver (more about what I did later this week). I was supposed to take my family with me but ended up making it a work-only trip at the last minute. Because I had been planning the logistics of traveling with the kids in my head for the months leading up to this trip, it was kind of a sigh of relief to make the short trip on my own. To travel solo is a very rare treat these days when I go on work trips. And while I was sad they didn't make this trip, it was so peaceful to be able to just bring a light bag and go through security with minimal belongings.

But then you know what happened? I watched other parents at the airport with their kids—doing those things I normally do like making sure your kids are fed, entertained, and hopefully not screaming the whole time while carrying a ton of stuff for "just in case". I empathized with them and wanted them to know I understood what they were going through. But then I also felt weirdly sad—like no one knew that I was a mother and that all of those things are things that I usually experience, too. It was the first time that I felt like I was defining my identity and how I wanted to project myself to strangers was that of a mother.

It made me think…how do I define who I am? How do YOU define who you are? When we meet strangers on the plane, we almost always talk first about our jobs or what we do for a living. We never really talk about what we like to do on the weekends or our favorite dessert. Sure, I have a fancy professional bio that I use most of the time for work stuff, but how would I define myself to a complete stranger if I had to tell them briefly who I am?

So this is what I came up with…

My name is Joy. I design things that I hope will make people happy. I come up with ideas for life that I hope will surprise and delight, and I share those ideas on the Internet. I am the mother to two girls who have taught me to enjoy the simplicity of every day. I am the wife to a person who has always believed in me even when I didn't know what the heck I was doing. I work really hard, and I go after what I want. I try and spend my time doing things that make me happy because life is too short to spend your time doing too many things that you hate. I also think about ice cream…all the time.

What about you guys? Who are YOU?

{Photo by LK Griffin

49 comments

  1. My name is Katie. I love to sew, to cook, to create, to be out in nature. I also love to learn, to achieve, to be successful and to arrange my books in height order. Most of my life is swinging from one side to the other of my personality, and trying to marry them together. I also make lists but procrastinate. Annoyingly. Lastly and mostly, I am the mother to three boys who made me who I am and give my life purpose and joy, the wife to a wonderfully strong, thoughtful and reliable man, and the family member of parents and brothers who I wish I saw more of. Oh and I eat too much chocolate. Pleased to meet you!

  2. Joy, this is beautiful. Your description of who you are really fits you perfectly. So often we define the who we are by the what we do and many a times people who don’t work in a professional setting are at a loss of how to define the who they are. I always remind myself that we are human beings first and not human doings. The who I am is much bigger that what i do. Thanks for reminding us again!
    Who am I: I am a fun loving, creative person who loves color. Passionate about photography. Lucky to be married to a man who is a gem. I live in the moment and am blessed to be surrounded by loving people and doing things I enjoy.

  3. This is wonderful. I recently wrote a blog post about the identity transition you go through when you become a mom, and how long it too me to absorb that new identity. Now it’s all consuming and I feel the same way when I go to Target on my lunch breaks that you did in the airport. I get this weird urge to tell all the moms with their kids “Hey! I get it! I’m a mom too!”
    Anyway, my name is Melanie, I’m a mother, a creative person who spends countless free hours designing and the bulk of my day at an boring job. I love to cook, read, play outside with my kids, drink warm beverages, travel, be in or near water, and watch movies and have deep philosophical conversations with my husband.

  4. I so get it. I took a solo trip a couple of weeks ago for the Better Homes & Gardens stylemaker event. I’ve got 2 kids, and the youngest is 8 months old. It was the first time I’d been away from the baby and I alllllmost didn’t go. But then I did go and it was great, and I so needed that alone time to refresh before diving back into nonstop motherhood and work. And much like you, I saw fellow moms with kids on the plane, and wanted to empathize, etc. I think there’s an identity crisis that happens after you have a baby (I wrote briefly about it here: http://pencilshavingsstudio.com/2015/06/state-of-the-studio-2015/) – with my first, I was hesitant to identify as a mom (I didn’t want to be *just* a mom) and now with my second, I’m so much more comfy in my identity. Maybe it’s the confidence that comes with being in my 30s or maybe it’s the fact that you’re already so deep in the trenches of motherhood that there isn’t as much of a jarring experience of going from no kids to 1 kid.
    I’m rambling, but nonetheless, loved this post.

  5. Yes, yes, yes. Whenever I am out and about without my little ones (two boys, 2 and 7 months), I always feel like part of me is missing, and get that “weirdly sad feeing” that people looking on me don’t know about that part of my life. It’s such an interesting question to ask oneself, and I love the exercise of crafting a personal bio. Working on it!

  6. I love this post! I find it so difficult to define who I am…how can you summarize your entire identity? I guess I’d say:
    I’m Audra. I like to design print materials and help people communicate their ideas effectively. I get excited about bright colors, scarves, and mac & cheese. I like to travel, cook, and be creative. I try to be a good daughter, sister and friend. And I’m excited to see how this summary might change in ten years 🙂

  7. My name is Caroline. I`m an architecture student and I hope one day I will have my own office. Being an architect has been my dream like forever and I`m so happy that I finally can realize it!
    I`m a perfectionist, but I prefer to say that I`m a passionate person. Everything I do, from painting, knitting, cooking to playing the piano, I do and did it with all my heart. Because of all this passion I feel inside of me, I started writing a blog. I want to inspire people by what I do!
    Life is meant to be lived fully!
    Thanks for this beautiful post 🙂
    http://www.carolinespassion.wordpress.com

  8. I love this post! Lately I’ve felt ready for motherhood, and you post pulled my heartstrings. Not to mention that a fancy bio doesn’t mean a lot without the identity behind it.
    I’m Andrenna. I find everyone and everything interesting. I dont believe in doing things because one “should,” and as a result, I’ve lived an adventurous life. By day, I analyze laws and help my judge make important decisions. By night, I’m the mother to a puppy that warms my heart, and wide to a husband who has allowed me to become the person I always knew was inside me. I have an inner creativity that I’m struggling to let out. My favorite moment of the day is when I am walking to work with the sun in my face, and the perfect song playing in my headphones.

  9. Love this post! “Life is too short to spend your time doing too many things that you hate.” Well said. I need to work on this, and have the courage to say ‘no’ to things I hate.

  10. I know!!! I had the exact same feeling when I was travelling lately on my own, without my baby. It’s like I wanted to scream to the others: “I HAVE A BABY TOO – I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH”. But that would be weird, wouldn’t it?
    I recently wrote about my first trip without a baby and why you should do it 🙂 : http://www.patternsandmilk.com/take-a-break-and-go-travel-for-work-without-baby/
    Did you enjoy your time? I missed my daughter a lot, but also rediscovered who I was, where I was heading with my life and business – and came home so recharged!
    So here am I: HI, I’m Anke. I grab life with two hands, I’m completely in love with my boy who owns an italian restaurant, with my lovely baby girl and my job as a designer in my own studio. In my spare time I blog, eat a lot of chocolate combined with coffee and I’m usually planning our next move. Also, I speak 5 languages and could only live in a sunny country!

  11. I know!!! I had the exact same feeling when I was travelling lately on my own, without my baby. It’s like I wanted to scream to the others: “I HAVE A BABY TOO – I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH”. But that would be weird, wouldn’t it?
    I recently wrote about my first trip without a baby and why you should do it 🙂 : http://www.patternsandmilk.com/take-a-break-and-go-travel-for-work-without-baby/
    Did you enjoy your time? I missed my daughter a lot, but also rediscovered who I was, where I was heading with my life and business – and came home so recharged!
    So here am I: HI, I’m Anke. I grab life with two hands, I’m completely in love with my boy who owns an italian restaurant, with my lovely baby girl and my job as a designer in my own studio. In my spare time I blog, eat a lot of chocolate combined with coffee and I’m usually planning our next move. Also, I speak 5 languages and could only live in a sunny country!

  12. I know!!! I had the exact same feeling when I was travelling lately on my own, without my baby. It’s like I wanted to scream to the others: “I HAVE A BABY TOO – I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH”. But that would be weird, wouldn’t it?
    I recently wrote about my first trip without a baby and why you should do it 🙂 : http://www.patternsandmilk.com/take-a-break-and-go-travel-for-work-without-baby/
    Did you enjoy your time? I missed my daughter a lot, but also rediscovered who I was, where I was heading with my life and business – and came home so recharged!
    So here am I: HI, I’m Anke. I grab life with two hands, I’m completely in love with my boy who owns an italian restaurant, with my lovely baby girl and my job as a designer in my own studio. In my spare time I blog, eat a lot of chocolate combined with coffee and I’m usually planning our next move. Also, I speak 5 languages and could only live in a sunny country!

  13. I know!!! I had the exact same feeling when I was travelling lately on my own, without my baby. It’s like I wanted to scream to the others: “I HAVE A BABY TOO – I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH”. But that would be weird, wouldn’t it?
    I recently wrote about my first trip without a baby and why you should do it 🙂 : http://www.patternsandmilk.com/take-a-break-and-go-travel-for-work-without-baby/
    Did you enjoy your time? I missed my daughter a lot, but also rediscovered who I was, where I was heading with my life and business – and came home so recharged!
    So here am I: HI, I’m Anke. I grab life with two hands, I’m completely in love with my boy who owns an italian restaurant, with my lovely baby girl and my job as a designer in my own studio. In my spare time I blog, eat a lot of chocolate combined with coffee and I’m usually planning our next move. Also, I speak 5 languages and could only live in a sunny country!

  14. I know!!! I had the exact same feeling when I was travelling lately on my own, without my baby. It’s like I wanted to scream to the others: “I HAVE A BABY TOO – I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH”. But that would be weird, wouldn’t it?
    I recently wrote about my first trip without a baby and why you should do it 🙂 : http://www.patternsandmilk.com/take-a-break-and-go-travel-for-work-without-baby/
    Did you enjoy your time? I missed my daughter a lot, but also rediscovered who I was, where I was heading with my life and business – and came home so recharged!
    So here am I: HI, I’m Anke. I grab life with two hands, I’m completely in love with my boy who owns an italian restaurant, with my lovely baby girl and my job as a designer in my own studio. In my spare time I blog, eat a lot of chocolate combined with coffee and I’m usually planning our next move. Also, I speak 5 languages and could only live in a sunny country!

  15. I know!!! I had the exact same feeling when I was travelling lately on my own, without my baby. It’s like I wanted to scream to the others: “I HAVE A BABY TOO – I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH”. But that would be weird, wouldn’t it?
    I recently wrote about my first trip without a baby and why you should do it 🙂 : http://www.patternsandmilk.com/take-a-break-and-go-travel-for-work-without-baby/
    Did you enjoy your time? I missed my daughter a lot, but also rediscovered who I was, where I was heading with my life and business – and came home so recharged!
    So here am I: HI, I’m Anke. I grab life with two hands, I’m completely in love with my boy who owns an italian restaurant, with my lovely baby girl and my job as a designer in my own studio. In my spare time I blog, eat a lot of chocolate combined with coffee and I’m usually planning our next move. Also, I speak 5 languages and could only live in a sunny country!

  16. I know!!! I had the exact same feeling when I was travelling lately on my own, without my baby. It’s like I wanted to scream to the others: “I HAVE A BABY TOO – I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH”. But that would be weird, wouldn’t it?
    I recently wrote about my first trip without a baby and why you should do it 🙂 : http://www.patternsandmilk.com/take-a-break-and-go-travel-for-work-without-baby/
    Did you enjoy your time? I missed my daughter a lot, but also rediscovered who I was, where I was heading with my life and business – and came home so recharged!
    So here am I: HI, I’m Anke. I grab life with two hands, I’m completely in love with my boy who owns an italian restaurant, with my lovely baby girl and my job as a designer in my own studio. In my spare time I blog, eat a lot of chocolate combined with coffee and I’m usually planning our next move. Also, I speak 5 languages and could only live in a sunny country!

  17. I know!!! I had the exact same feeling when I was travelling lately on my own, without my baby. It’s like I wanted to scream to the others: “I HAVE A BABY TOO – I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH”. But that would be weird, wouldn’t it?
    I recently wrote about my first trip without a baby and why you should do it 🙂 : http://www.patternsandmilk.com/take-a-break-and-go-travel-for-work-without-baby/
    Did you enjoy your time? I missed my daughter a lot, but also rediscovered who I was, where I was heading with my life and business – and came home so recharged!
    So here am I: HI, I’m Anke. I grab life with two hands, I’m completely in love with my boy who owns an italian restaurant, with my lovely baby girl and my job as a designer in my own studio. In my spare time I blog, eat a lot of chocolate combined with coffee and I’m usually planning our next move. Also, I speak 5 languages and could only live in a sunny country!

  18. I know!!! I had the exact same feeling when I was travelling lately on my own, without my baby. It’s like I wanted to scream to the others: “I HAVE A BABY TOO – I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH”. But that would be weird, wouldn’t it?
    I recently wrote about my first trip without a baby and why you should do it 🙂 : http://www.patternsandmilk.com/take-a-break-and-go-travel-for-work-without-baby/
    Did you enjoy your time? I missed my daughter a lot, but also rediscovered who I was, where I was heading with my life and business – and came home so recharged!
    So here am I: HI, I’m Anke. I grab life with two hands, I’m completely in love with my boy who owns an italian restaurant, with my lovely baby girl and my job as a designer in my own studio. In my spare time I blog, eat a lot of chocolate combined with coffee and I’m usually planning our next move. Also, I speak 5 languages and could only live in a sunny country!

  19. I know!!! I had the exact same feeling when I was travelling lately on my own, without my baby. It’s like I wanted to scream to the others: “I HAVE A BABY TOO – I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH”. But that would be weird, wouldn’t it?
    I recently wrote about my first trip without a baby and why you should do it 🙂 : http://www.patternsandmilk.com/take-a-break-and-go-travel-for-work-without-baby/
    Did you enjoy your time? I missed my daughter a lot, but also rediscovered who I was, where I was heading with my life and business – and came home so recharged!
    So here am I: HI, I’m Anke. I grab life with two hands, I’m completely in love with my boy who owns an italian restaurant, with my lovely baby girl and my job as a designer in my own studio. In my spare time I blog, eat a lot of chocolate combined with coffee and I’m usually planning our next move. Also, I speak 5 languages and could only live in a sunny country!

  20. Oh I always have that feeling, especially since I’ve been moving a lot in the last few years and I my job title does not reflect at all “the whole picture” of me.
    Thank you for sharing this!

  21. I feel this way all the time! I want alone time, then when I get it, all I do is miss my boys (3 years old and 10 months old). I also get sad when people dont know that I am a mom. Sometimes if only to explain why I am not a size 0. Even though I never was a size 0 even before kids. LOL
    SO here is my attempt at me: My name is Ashley. I am a daydreamer, introvert who enjoys the simple things in life. Avid chocolate eater, coffee lover and pasta passionato (I dont think that is a word). My greatest joys in this world comes from being a mom, wife, sister and daughter. I am a continuous work in progress… 🙂

  22. Hi! I’m Kate. I feel very lucky to have pursued my dream to become a speech pathologist. It is the most rewarding and oftentimes heartbreaking career- but I feel so fortunate that I’m so passionate about my life’s work. I am also elated when I’m done with work for the day because I love to be with my 2 beautiful, spirited babies and being their mama gives me strength I didn’t know I had. I crave days full of: exercise and spending time outdoors and reading and cooking and family and rest. I am so lucky to have wonderful, close friendships but nothing gives me more pleasure than solitude. I believe in treating everyone with kindness and have empathy for most people I come across. I cannot tolerate blatant and deliberate rudeness. I’m so grateful for so many things in my life and particularly my mom and dad who raised us to be hardworking and inquisitive and generous. I talk to my mom and sister almost everyday. I’m self conscious about my body. I’m happily married to the best person I’ve ever met. I’m a morning person and an introvert and I’m crazy about my bulldog. I haven’t always loved being me but as I grow older- I am so grateful for this life.

  23. Hello I am Sue. My favourite sound is that of my children laughing… together. I am a mum of two, beautiful, spirited children who make me smile every day and have reminded me the world is an exciting place to be even when I am exhausted from trying to juggle a design career, part time job and being a mum/wife/friend. I want to be the best I can be at whatever I put my mind to and I sometimes struggle to decide what that should be. Colour, pattern, strong coffee,flowers and music make me happy. I love my life and should remember that a bit more often.
    Thanks for the inspiring post Joy, love it!

  24. My name is Anna and I’m a twenty-something living in sin with my boyfriend of seven years in Washington, DC. By day I work in international development in the Middle East and North Africa; by night I make stuff and work towards slash worry about my next career move. I love to garden, travel, and art journal.

  25. Thank you Joy – this post couldn’t have been posted at a better time for me. My daughter is 9 months old and we moved home to New Zealand after an exciting 4 years of working as a designer in London and Melbourne. We wanted our daughter to grow up with her extended family and this choice was at the sacrifice of me having to leave a great design job while I was on maternity leave. I have been freelancing and am very confused as to whether or not I should continue freelancing or try and return to a more stable job…. it was really great reading your post and the comments from the lovely ladies who have been through what I am going through right now.
    My name is Steph, I am a graphic artist / freelancer and I live near the beach with the love of my life and my darling baby girl. I love reading my favourite blogs every day with a coffee while my baby naps, I experiment with gluten free baking, love exploring / traveling and have such a strong drive to continue living my dream as a designer and also learn how to balance motherhood.

  26. It was so fun to meet you finally Joy here in Vancouver! Only wish we could’ve connected more but due to just that – parenthood, better planning, getting sick, etc. It’s an interesting juggle, motherhood and working. I struggle with it all the time – being apart from my son feels so strange, yet sometimes it just makes the work I have to do there easier. Oh life…

  27. How I identify myself with what you wrote!!
    In my case, I take my daughter everywhere … music festivals, theater, musical theater, opera since she was 3 months old.
    Who am I?
    My name is Marisa Martins and I live on the other side of the ocean … in Portugal.
    I am (as many call me) a Jill of all trades… I am a graphic designer for 12 years, I love to draw, photography, singing, to mimic the voices of cartoon characters … Basically I can’t stand still, I love to do and explore everything.
    I am the mother of a 4 year old girl that fills my home and heart with joy.
    I have a fantastic husband who supports me but also calls me down to earth whenever needed.
    I can’t have everything in life … but I’ve got the cutest wake up every morning with a sweet kiss from my little one and one passionate from my love.

  28. This is such a beautiful post, Joy! I too have had the same exact feelings 🙂 This has even happened while running a quick errand sans kids (which is rare!). Thank you for sharing, such a beautiful post and such a good reminder to think and know who we really are!!

  29. Who am I?
    I haven’t answered that question in awhile, but here’s a stab at it:
    I am a military wife, mother of four, sister, daughter, cousin, business owner and friend.
    These roles take up the majority of my days and I’m grateful for all the opportunities to serve the people in my life.
    But stripped away from all that, I am Annie. Grace giver and peace maker – that is what I want to be. And no matter what I role I have or don’t have – I hope I will leave my little corner of the world better and happier, always.

  30. What you wrote here is so hardly meaningful for me. What you describe on the airport, that weirdly sad feeling, is not leaving me, never.
    So what if we would met on an airport ?
    I am that french girl who may turn the head if your kid tries to catch my attention at the waiting line, smiling at me. I would pretend I did not pay attention. I am the person who would ask changing seat on the plane if I were seated close to a family. But I would look at them sometimes, feeling so close yet so alone. I am a mother, I have a baby born and died the same day. I’ve been fighting for years to get pregnant, and when it finally came we discovered I have health problems I ignored. So I gave birth too early, my tiny little son dit not survive. And I’m not sure I’ll have another child one day even if I try and do my best, taking treatments and surgery.
    When I see families, I can not stop thinking “we should be like them, this is how it was supposed to be”. I am a mother, no one knows, it is so hard. I think of him each second of my life. And then I play with my phone and listen to my music during the flight.

  31. Elise,
    I also thought of my loss when reading this post. People don’t often realize that when you lose your baby, you not only mourn the loss of that life, but also feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself, a part of your identity. I too believed myself a mother during those months that I carried my baby, and it made me feel very alone when no one understood how I could feel so attached to that title when I never got to actually take care of a live baby. So sorry for your loss.

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