Who Am I?

Who am I?  This is a question that I’ve asked myself since I was young.  It didn’t cross my mind very often when I was young, but a few times I can distinctly remember looking at myself in the mirror and having this feeling like I didn’t know who was really in there.  I don’t even know how to describe it in words now, but I suppose the best translation I can come up with is i felt confused about who I was.  I didn’t feel like I was the person I was looking at in the mirror. And although body image issues are a big part of my story, this feeling had nothing to do with how my body looked.  It felt like my body was just a thing that the other me was traveling around in.  Now I know that I am a spiritual being having a human experience, rather than a human being having a spiritual experience, but at the time I first started having this feeling, I had no clue what it meant.

I’ve defined myself many different ways throughout the years.  Blonde.  Curly-haired.  Academically gifted.  Driven.  Golfer.  Anorexic.  Skinny.  Fat.  Pianist.  Saxophonist. Collegiate athlete.  Friend.  College graduate.  Master’s degree earner.  Binge drinker.  CEO.  Distance runner.  Ultra-marathon finisher.  Successful.  Girlfriend.  Home owner.  Alcoholic.  Coach.  Spiritual junkie.  Sober.  Dog mom.  Exercise addict.   Vegan. Vegetarian.  Paleo.

I know now that none of these things are truly who I am, they are just characteristics or experiences I’ve been through on my journey so far.  But some of these things were “who I was” for years.  I was searching for something that fit.  Something that made me feel whole.  A role that made me happy.

Happiness is what we’re all searching for, right?  If I could be 130lbs, I would be happy.  If I can land that promotion, I would be happy.  If I make enough money, I will be happy.  If I get married, I will be happy.  If I move into that awesome house in that awesome neighborhood, I’ll be happy. If I get that purse or that new pair of shoes, I’ll be happy.  I placed so many contingencies around my happiness.  Each achievement I checked off the list of “things to do to be happy”, I found myself in search of more.  But, how can we not fall into this way of thinking when all around us are messages that are telling us that?

One of the messages that I received from a young age was that my “job” was to go to school, get a good job, buy a house, get married, and have kids.  This message wasn’t given to me by anyone in particular, and certainly not by my parents.  My parents were and still are the most amazing people in my life.  They have always encouraged me to do whatever I wanted as long as I was having fun doing it. The message was just something I picked up from the rest of the world. Television.  Other people.  Media.  It wasn’t even really a direct message, it was just something that I thought I was supposed to do. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I think going to school, getting a job, buying a house, getting married, having kids, etc. are all awesome things. I’ve even done most of them!  Most.  But, somewhere along the way I picked up the thought that if I did all these things, if I accomplished all these goals, that the promise from the world was that I’d be happy and content.  

I can remember walking into my great job one morning in December several years ago.  I had just closed on a great house in a great neighborhood, I had a boyfriend, I had Bachelor’s AND Master’s diplomas hanging on the wall in my office, I had sweet puppy, and a loving family.  And all I could think is “there has to be more”.  Was this truly it?  I had done everything “they” told me to do and I still felt empty.  Still lost.

I don’t want you to think I was like this lost and completely empty soul my whole life until now because that is far from my reality.  I’ve had awesome experiences throughout my life.  It’s only now that I have the awareness to look back on my life and realize that  I was standing in my own way of being truly happy ALL the time.  I have had plenty of happy moments, happy weeks, months, years.  But, I had always found myself at that place when the thing or person or experience subsided and I found myself back in that place of searching.

What I finally learned was that the entire time I was searching the world and all it’s people, places, and things, the whole time the answer was within me.

Jessica Hauser