Do We Have the Right to Become Who We Are Inside?

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I’ve been detecting an interesting controversy lately, one I find most troubling. It has come to my attention that there are some that believe we really don’t have the right to be who we are.

So I ask you, do you have the right to become who you are inside, or is that just too selfish?

Most of us were raised to play certain roles in our lives, roles like daughter, teenager, college student, wife, mother, grandmother, etc. We all act the way we are expected to act to some extent. We learn from our family and our culture how to play these roles, and when we’re younger we really don’t know what else to do. Most of us follow the rules.

Family traditions have also often determined what we do for a living. If we were raised in a family that specialized in certain trades, we often follow in our mother or fathers’ footsteps because it is familiar and we have the proper training and connections to keep doing the same sort of work. This provides a simpler if much more limited existence, and makes it more difficult to change your status or move up the ladder of success.

Today we have a whole new generation of Americans (the boomers) who believe they have the right to become whomever they find themselves to be, as my new book, Midlife Magic: Becoming the Person You Are Inside, suggests.

Even if we take until midlife to figure out what that is, we still believe we have the right to pursue our own interests, identities, and goals regardless of past roles, indoctrination, and training. This struggle is often defined as a midlife crisis.

Our internal battle may be to reconcile what we are “supposed to be” in our jobs or relationships with others, with what we know in our hearts is our authentic self. The struggle within can be as difficult as the whole “coming out” experience of those who decide that they are gay.

I took a copy of my new book to an exercise class at my local senior center recently. The instructor announced the title to the class and at the end an elderly woman made a point of coming back to talk to me about it. She said, “I’m eighty-eight years old and I still haven’t become the person I am inside.”
I loved this lady for sharing her truth with me! She hasn’t ever felt free enough to allow her true self to show through. I realized then that this is a major generational difference! Previous generations have suffered by only feeling free to play their proper roles in life, never finding and then acknowledging and honoring their true character and uniqueness in the world.

I honor this elder for informing me of this fact. She instructs us in how much the world has changed in the past thirty or forty years!

“The fifty’s are everything you are meant to be!”—Maya Angelou

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