Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Assumed Identity

With our marriage, HP and I are now in a new ward together at Church. We went for the first time on Sunday, and without consciously thinking about it, I did a few things related to my identity. I did introduce myself with my new last name. But I did not state that I had just gotten married. I did not want people to make the assumptions that would go along with that. I am a newlywed, but I am not a 20-year-old newlywed and all that would imply in their minds. And I am so much more than a newlywed. I know they are going to make assumptions about who I am, and mostly they will assume I am just like them, even if I am not. But if I can get them to know a few more things about me before they jump to conclusions, they might get closer to the truth of my identity.

I have been dealing with assumptions about who I am for years. People have assumed I was married and asked about my husband. People assumed I was single for all kinds of reasons. People assume I am in graduate school to pursue a completely different career path than what I could actually do with my degree. People made all kinds of assumptions about the wedding, what kind of reception we were having, where we were getting married, and many other things. People have assumed that I like certain things, that I do certain things, that I want certain things, that I need certain things.

Oddly, while I am sure that there have been times when people have made correct assumptions about me, it is only the innumerable incorrect ones I really remember. And the more incorrect they have been, the more annoying the person making the assumption is to me.

So now that my identity is changing, again (it is constantly changing), I am trying to protect the direction that it is changing. I want to be the one to shape who I am becoming not have others mold me into what they assume I am. And I think that no matter where we are in life, that is a challenge we face. How much control do we want to give others over our identity? Do we assume the identity others have created for us? Or do we continue to struggle against those assumptions and be who we are despite what everyone thinks about us? What do you do to prevent assumptions? What do you do to correct the incorrect ones?